Comment: Enough of these 'poor Jennifer Aniston' headlines - you don't need a husband or babies to be happy
Poor, poor Jennifer.
I mean poor, poor, poor Jennifer. News that Jennifer Aniston’s marriage has broken up triggered the usual headlines. “Why Can’t Jennifer keep a man?” “What’s wrong with Jennifer?” Pretty much every story I’ve read about Jennifer Aniston tells me she’s the world’s saddest single woman.
She’s “miserable” and “alone”, “frustrated”, “sad” or “forlorn” about the fact that she’s man-less. Her “desperation” – which the media made up – will now probably be blamed for making her marry too soon. Now her dreams have “been shattered” after being “dumped”.
The implication of the “sad, poor” headlines here is that Aniston can’t be fulfilled if she’s single, even though she has family, friends, good health, a great career and wealth. Happiness, you see, is synonymous with “having a man”.
The why-can’t-she-keep-a-man question apparently “sends her into a rage”. Why can’t the husbands and boyfriends keep her? In the past she was “obsessed” with Angelina Jolie and “competed” with her for Brad’s attention.
They were engaged in “war” or facing a “showdown”. They “tortured” each other and tried to “sabotage” the other. When she was dating Vince Vaughn, she remained “devoted” to Brad.
Oh, and there are the babyless stories too. She’s “trying” for a baby or “having a baby” or “adopting” a baby.
There are endless pictures of her tight-lipped or allegedly on the verge of tears. This, obviously, means she’s frustrated and sad and all she does all day long is think of babies and boyfriends and how she doesn’t have them.
There are some “happy” pictures. When she married her now ex-husband, they were accompanied by headlines like “Finally!”.
There was the time Jennifer’s face was on the cover of the New York Post the day after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt announced their divorce. Not Jolie’s face. Not Pitt’s. Aniston’s.
The picture is a happy one – deliriously happy. “Brangelina: 2004–2016” was printed in the top-left corner and Aniston’s face explained the rest. She was dancing on their grave.
I can’t recall any other pop culture celebrity narrative that has been as sexist as what’s been inflicted on Jennifer Aniston in the years since her divorce from Brad Pitt, and that’s more than a decade ago.
If the headlines have tried to deliver a showcase of pity, they’ve managed to deliver a masterclass in misogyny and chauvinism. It’s all fuelled by falling magazine sales and desensitised readers hungry for real-life drama.
Aniston herself has spoken about the hyper-sexist coverage of her private life. She told Marie Claire magazine: “My marital status has been shamed; my divorce status was shamed; my lack of a mate had been shamed; my nipples have been shamed.”
Now the cybersphere will be buzzing with stories about herself and Brad being “reunited”. We’ll be promised “the truth” behind the rumours.
God help us all.