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Misogyny & Media: Joe Jonas & Sophie Turner

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

As anyone with a social media account is already well aware, actress Sophie Turner and performing artist Joe Jonas are divorcing. I know, I know: old news. But public response to the breakup of this apparent power couple reflects so much of the relationship between modern media (and its consumers) and female celebrities — and it’s definitely worth discussing. 

The interpersonal drama between Turner and Jonas has been hashed over for a social media eternity (about a week and a half). He slid into her DMs in 2016 when she was twenty and he was twenty-seven, and the pair started dating exclusively within a few months. They got engaged the next year, married in 2019, and quickly had two children. Their older daughter was born in 2020, and their second in 2022. And then on Sept. 5 2023, seemingly out of nowhere, Joe Jonas filed for divorce.

The infamous tabloid news site TMZ was the first to announce the divorce, using the accounts of anonymous sources to confirm an incoming split. The TMZ article implied that the divorce was the result of Sophie Turner’s absentee parenting, stating that Jonas was the primary caretaker of their children despite his busy schedule as a touring artist. The article went on to claim that although Turner has “done some TV/movie stuff” since the birth of their children, she’s not nearly as busy as Jonas. Over the course of the past week and a half, the internet has been flooded with dozens of reports from gossip magazines and celebrity news sites with the Jonas-Turner divorce headlining. TMZ themselves went on to publish articles speculating about Turner’s love life, claiming she was “locking lips” with a co-star amid the divorce; neglecting to mention the fact that they are actors filming a movie together.


TMZ was immediately slammed for this misogynistic rhetoric: supporters of Sophie Turner flocked to social media sites such as Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) to defend her. Turner gained over 100,000 more followers on Instagram in just about a week. Long-time fans pointed out that Turner is a self-proclaimed introvert who took a multi-year hiatus from acting to care for their children at home, while Jonas himself is known to enjoy nightlife. Others joined the discourse to assert that Turner has a right to go out and have fun without her children and that nobody would bat an eye if their genders were swapped. Casual media observers made connections between the tabloid’s comments on Turner’s motherhood and their sexist treatment of Brittany Spears as a young mother, over a decade ago. Many accused Joe Jonas and his PR team of propagating a smear campaign against Turner in an attempt to maintain his public image, raising questions about journalistic integrity and celebrity influence over the press. 

Unfortunately, popular opinion has done little to end misogynistic journalism. Just last week, People magazine published two articles concerning the divorce in less than twenty-four hours: “Sophie Turner Allegedly Begged Joe Jonas to Wait for This Event Before Filing for Divorce,” and “Joe Jonas Teases His Brother in New Tour Photos amid Sophie Turner Divorce.” There is a very clear narrative established here: Turner is devastated by the divorce, while Jonas is laughing with his brothers. Intimate details concerning Turner’s emotional state are either fabricated or leaked to the press, while Jonas’ feelings are left unreported. 

Obviously, this is messed up media representation. But the problem isn’t just that tabloids are misogynistic — the problem is that people are reading them. These websites and magazines sell stories; they wouldn’t be fixating on Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas’ divorce if they didn’t know that it would generate profit. They are relying on our cultural obsession with the personal lives and relationship drama of celebrities, specifically female celebrities.

We’ve seen it a million times before; in Marilyn Monroe, in Diana Spencer, in Brittany Spears, and now in Sophie Turner. Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas are navigating divorce, co-parenting, and publicity. Sophie Turner stepped out for a walk after the story broke and was immediately caught by paparazzi. This bizarre advertisement of individual heartbreak is so normalized that nobody was at all surprised to find an article about two strangers’ divorce in The New York Times. What makes the situation especially surreal is the fact that their children will eventually grow into social media and find it, and themselves, to be the battleground of their parents’ PR campaigns.

The weaponization of motherhood is both blatant sexism and a callous tabloid tactic. But the question to ask right now is: what is misogyny in the media, really? Is it just hounding women for their lifestyle choices, vilifying them, and running smear campaigns with very little basis in fact? Or is it as simple as dragging their private lives into the public sphere?

The reaction to Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner’s divorce, online and on social media, is messy and misogynistic. It is also a reflection of changing attitudes in the relationship between the general populace and female celebrities, as well as in our outlook on tabloids and their role in public relations. But it’s also a continuation of the same old issue — a cultural fixation on gossip, and the ways in which it can damage individual relationships.

Moira Thidemann is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut studying English and minoring in History, with concentrations in Literary Histories and Legacies, English Teaching, and Writing and Composition Studies. She interned for the Connecticut Writing Project in the Spring of 2023. In her free time, Moira enjoys nature walks, reading, baking with friends, and discovering new music.