Why Some People Believed Prince Harry But Not Meghan Markle

Welcome to the gender credibility gap.

Meghan Markle Naresh / Shutterstock

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry sat down with Oprah to set the record straight about their break from the royal family. The interview was said to be unscripted and uncensored, with no topics forbidden from discussion.

Harry and Meghan had their stories straight, said roughly the same things, and even their manners of speaking were similar.

So why is it that some people believe Harry and not Meghan?

Welcome to the double standard known as the gender credibility gap.


Do people trust men more than women?

A credibility gap is a situation where confidence is not placed in one entity or another, for whatever reason.

The first use of the term is thought to have arisen during the 1960s. It was cemented in the popular lexicon when the press adopted it to refer to President Johnson’s controversial Vietnam War policies.

“Gender Credibility Gap” became one of many adaptations of its use over time.

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According to research, it’s more than just a plausible application.

A 2019 study put out by researchers at Washington State University found that attractive women in business were seen as less trustworthy than their male colleagues. Not only that, but the study also concluded that these same women were more likely to be viewed as expendable, in contrast to the men around them.

This tracks with what Markle and Prince Harry displayed before the world, and the ever-growing mound of thought pieces and memes suggesting that the prince is a victim of manipulation.

Public opinion is divided on whether or not women have it worse, but it skews slightly in the direction of the available research.


According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted while Hillary Clinton was running for office, the majority of Americans believed that women faced significant social and professional challenges in the current climate. While 63% of women surveyed were among those results, only 41% of men were on the same page. Only 35% of Republicans surveyed believed that difficulties remained for women, as opposed to almost 70% of Democrats who did.

But is there more to the nature of such disbelief?

In the interview, Markle herself pointed out that people are storytellers by nature. There’s a metric ton of compelling research that backs up her claim.

And we’ve been telling stories about women for centuries.


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What We Talk About When We Talk About Women

The Greek Philosophers argued the merits of women's words as early as the 4th century BCE.

Aristotle wrote that women are more emotional, less authoritative, and possessed of negative characteristics like a mischievous nature and a lack of shame. He goes on to label women “deceptive” and prone to “more false speech.”

Deception is a common thread tied to women throughout the world of mythology, too.

As humans are storytellers, the stories that we tell each other matter. They continue to represent a manner of viewing the world and its inhabitants.


The Sirens showed up in Homer to lure sailors out into the depths of the sea to drown them.

“Kitsune,” or magical Japanese foxes, were said to transform into beautiful women who enchanted men at night, often to disastrous results.

Should it really come as such a surprise, then, when the stories humanity has told for years then result in the systematic distrust of women?


It’s not just public confidence that’s lacking, either. Women are distrusted in numerous ways that can manifest in imminent danger for themselves or another.

A study completed by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession made startling conclusions about the obstacles female lawyers face in the execution of their regular job duties.

Not only are they often mistaken for custodial staff and other non-lawyers, but they’re also vastly underpaid and underutilized. And when they do speak up to gain equal footing with their male colleagues, they’re interrupted at higher rates than male lawyers or simply dismissed as overly aggressive.

It’s not a stretch to say that work needs to be done to ensure that the clients of female lawyers aren't entering the courtroom at a disadvantage, which could end in conviction bias.


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Intersecting Narratives

Markle doesn’t simply run into problems with trust because she’s a woman. She’s also a black woman.

In the contemporary landscape of social justice, more information about intersectionality and its insidious multiplication effect is slowly pervading public awareness.


Black women experience a unique mix of irrational systemic abuses that go well beyond those already covered. A prospective royal of mixed race striving to gain entry into an elitist institution that embodies the final death throes of Imperialism and Colonialism was bound to have a bad time.

Answering the question of trustworthiness between two members of the most tabloid-worthy royal family can be summed up fairly easily, as it turns out.

Both of them repeated the same information. They both expressed disappointment, heartbreak, perseverance, in much the same way, using practically the same speech patterns.

The difference is, the human family has an oral tradition of telling stories about the virtue of princes, and the deceitful nature of women.


It’s in the DNA of our culture to be skeptical of women, lest they drag the hapless men among us deep into the forest or out into the sea for nefarious purposes.

And then where would we be, without a man to give us his conscionable, upstanding, and more believable version of the story?

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Kevin Lankes is the Senior Love and Empowerment Editor at YourTango. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Here Comes Everyone, Pigeon Pages, Owl Hollow Press, The Huffington Post, The Riverdale Press, and countless blogs, webpages, and other media. Find him on Twitter.