DA MPs weigh in after Helen Zille's Meghan Markle miscarriage comments

30 November 2020 - 11:00 By cebelihle bhengu
Helen Zille, the DA's federal council chairperson, has weighed in on Meghan Markle opening up about her miscarriage.
Helen Zille, the DA's federal council chairperson, has weighed in on Meghan Markle opening up about her miscarriage.
Image: DONNA WATSON

DA MPs have called for a kinder society after the party's federal chairperson Helen Zille seemingly suggested Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle should not have opened up about her miscarriage.

In a recent tweet, Zille weighed in on the debate around Markle's decision to open up about losing her second child, claiming "'wokeness' equates victimhood with virtue”, and “these public displays of suffering are intended to advance both”.

An opinion piece by Brendan O'Neill questioning whether Markle should have kept her pain private sparked the fierce debate online, and saw Australian journalist Claire Lehmann claim the shaming of public figures who express vulnerability was a “particularly British custom” she found “intolerable”. 

Zille disagreed with Lehmann, and suggested “a bit of stoicism is the real virtue that should be pursued”.

Zille was dragged by many for her comment, including by some who shared their personal experiences with loss.

DA members Mbali Ntuli, Phumzile Van Damme and Siviwe Gwarube said women should be free to share their experiences of grief without shame.

“Why does it need more stoicism? What's to be gained from an archaic 1950s culture that shamed those who dared share their feelings and entrenched a culture of suffering in silence? The world has moved on. Kindness, empathy and compassion are the virtues that ought to be embraced,” tweeted Van Damme.

Garube tweeted: “I’d want the world to cultivate a culture which deems vulnerability as a form of great courage, not emotional exhibitionism. Gender-based violence thrives in a society that gags women because some things should be ‘private’. Strength to Markle and millions more. Let’s normalise sharing our experiences.”

In her 2016 book, Not Without A Fight, Zille opened up about her struggles with an eating disorder and post-partum depression among other personal struggles. Ntuli said other women must be allowed to do the same.

“You've spoken about your post-partum, your rape, your anorexia. It was brave of you to do so and you gave a lot of women going through similar things a sense of feeling they were not alone. We need more kindness in the world, not stoicism which keeps us from reaching to each other.” 


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