Over the past few days, my feed has been consumed with the news of Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’s divorce. After four years together, the couple has decided to “amicably” part ways. To be clear, their divorce is nobody’s business — despite the endless reporting and rumours that have ensued since it was announced. What does merit concern, however, is the blatant misogyny that has coloured much of the coverage surrounding their split.
Thanks to various “anonymous sources” the narrative that has played out in sources like TMZ and Page Six is this: Turner is the absentee mother who “likes to party”, while Jonas is the devoted father making sacrifices for his children. A recent headline suggested that Turner partied “without a care in the world” while her husband was out taking their children to brunch. In reality, the two agreed that it would be best for their children to remain in the US with their father while Turner was abroad filming in the UK. This comes after recent news that Turner is suing Jonas for the return of their children to England, stating that he has been withholding their children’s passports.
Let me be clear: Jonas deserves no gold medals for his performance as a dutiful father. It’s fair to say that had this headline come from the PR camp close to Turner, no one would have batted an eye. Women, after all, are expected to be the default caregivers for their children in ways that fathers aren’t, and a public display of motherhood would hardly constitute evidence of benevolence amid an ongoing custody battle. Fathers are allowed to have an identity outside their children, but when a woman becomes pregnant, everything she does and says is scrutinized to the closest degree. She becomes perceived through her responsibilities to her children and is instantly labelled a bad mother should she demonstrate a life outside her family.
Unfortunately, while such sexist reporting is upsetting and damaging, it is ultimately expected. Tabloids have and will continue to objectify and denigrate women for views. What is enlightening, however, is the online reaction to the framing of the divorce. Turner gained over 100,000 more followers on Instagram, with fans calling out the media’s sexist treatment toward the actress. It is heartening to see the public grow more literate in uncovering the double standards that pervade news reporting. Nevertheless, the media remains a powerful source of authority in reinforcing how the public ‘should behave’ because of their gender. We should continue to challenge such reporting, for while it is certainly degrading toward’s women, it is ultimately tradition and will not disappear anytime soon.