America likes to punish a “bad mother” – and there is a long history of using celebrities as figures to reinforce the warning of “abominable motherhood.”
This explains the fact that when news broke that 34-year-old musician Joe Jonas had filed for divorce from 27-year-old actress Sophie Turner, the media narrative was that Turner wanted a night out, while Jonas I wanted to be a father.
Gossip sites like “TMZ” and “Page Six” talked about their “different lifestyles” – Turner as a party girl and Jonas as a “homebody” who tried to take care of his daughters.
For media literacy analysts, this seems like a tactic that supports the bad mother and selfless father version.
American society is prepared to swallow such narratives, given how eager we are to give parents awards for simply… Being parents.
I saw this first hand. My husband and I once went to Brooklyn for lunch with friends. I was in battle with my sandwich, my six-month-old son, and — yes — a glass of wine.
When my husband realized the difficulty, he picked up the baby and took him outside to give me a “rest”. Upon his return, he reported that at least two older women had stopped to compliment him on the way he was holding the baby.
We laughed at how low the bar for parenting was.
But I was secretly resentful. That same morning, a woman stopped to scold me for failing to put a hat on my son.
This narrative – whether used to valorize fathers or demonize mothers – is a tired, misogynistic critique of women who do not present themselves publicly as traditional caregivers or who are caught making some kind of “parenting mistake” on camera.
Britney Spears is one of the examples of victims of this type of rhetoric.
The singer was considered a bad mother in the early 2000s and, unfortunately, continues to be labeled that way today, despite everything we know about her abusive guardianship and her struggle for autonomy and self-expression.
But there is still a little hope in this story.
In the past, efforts to paint women as bad mothers during divorce have worked. But that’s not what’s happening with Jonas and Turner’s situation.
On social media, users were immediately skeptical of Jonas’ claims.
Many commented on the 7-year age difference between the two, in addition to the fact that Turner was only 19 when they started dating and that she became a mother at 26.
People mentioned Turner’s public outbursts about missing her homeland, including a desperate comment in which she said she missed her family and friends.
“I miss England so much,” she told Elle UK in May 2022. “The people, the attitude, everything. I’m slowly dragging my husband back.”
And why does this matter?
In many ways, celebrities help us identify and define our experiences and clarify our own anxieties.
We try to see how the world reacts to their lives. And in this specific case, we seek to see how our culture treats women who are implicit or judged as “bad mothers”.
All of these voices are joining in what appears to be a growing chorus of resistance against those “weary of the past.”
For every person who criticizes Cardi B for being too sexual, there is someone defending a mother’s prerogative to maintain and feel good about her sexuality.
For the people who accused Emily Ratajkowski and Meghan Markle of holding their babies “incorrectly,” many of them rolled their eyes at such sexist judgment.
And while people debate Julia Fox’s parenting advice, others are praising her candid comments and reality check when it comes to being a single mom.
The Covid-19 pandemic has opened people’s eyes to the amount of physical and emotional work mothers do every day – and how fathers are able to take on equal parental responsibilities.
Nobody is special; everyone is trying their best. Fathers shouldn’t receive bonuses for looking after their children while the mother is working.
Mothers shouldn’t be burned at the stake for going out with friends.
Are you going to judge me for not putting a hat on my son? Mind your own business, we’re trying to stay sane and alive here!
In their official joint statement, Jonas and Turner shared a post on their respective Instagram accounts.
“After four wonderful years of marriage, we have mutually decided to end our marriage amicably. There are many speculative narratives as to why, but in truth, this is a united decision and we sincerely hope that everyone can respect our wishes for privacy for ourselves and our children,” they said.
We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes with these two people. But that’s not really the point.
These tabloid narratives are opportunities to take the cultural temperature and assess changes in our attitudes.
Most importantly, however, they are opportunities to look less “voyeuristically” at what is wrong in the lives of others and more critically at how gender-defying parental stereotypes, however small, can have consequences.
Posted by Amanda Sampaio of CNN.
Source: CNN Brasil
Bruce Belcher is a seasoned author with over 5 years of experience in world news. He writes for online news websites and provides in-depth analysis on the world stock market. Bruce is known for his insightful perspectives and commitment to keeping the public informed.