All hail the hyper-speed Hollywood romance. After four years of marriage, pop songstrel Joe Jonas is divorcing Westerosette Sophie Turner. Facts of the separation are thin on the ground, and I don’t really want to speculate on the icky ins and outs of uncoupling in the public eye when you have two small kids, but as Jonas has reportedly hired Tiger Woods’s divorce attorney and a bad-mother narrative is already leaking (deliberately rolling?) out against Turner….
Sources close to the couple say Jonas has been exhaustingly trying to salvage the marriage, that filing for divorce is his last resort, and, tellingly, that Turner likes to party, whereas Jonas likes to stay at home. “They have very different lifestyles,” a source told TMZ. It’s an interesting strategy, to lightly tinker on keys of absent motherhood, broadly painting Turner’s alleged over-partying as a hindrance to fully serving the domestic needs of her family. From an outsider’s point of view, Team Jonas is throwing a careless-mother narrative at proceedings and seeing if it sticks, sowing seeds of his wife being a less-than-gold-star parent. Nobody is saying out loud she’s subpar; it’s just heavily, heavily insinuated that her liking to go out clashes with his homebody status. It’s very read between the lines, please, she is not mothering at an acceptable standard.
This isn’t a new narrative—a woman supposedly underperforming as a mother—and speaks to centuries-old societal expectations on women to place nurture, for their men and their children, in front of their own needs. Having given birth, there’s an expectation for women to fully surrender all former parts of themselves for motherhood, to emerge postnatal as mothers (TM), forfeiting their desires and autonomy.
What will happen if women don’t fulfill our rules for mothers? God forbid a woman isn’t a domestic goddess. God forbid a woman isn’t balled and chained to her partner and offspring. God forbid she isn’t at home right this minute. Whatever next? Women working? Women voting? Women thinking for themselves!? I’m being deliberately facetious because the misogyny here is so ridiculously stark. All these motherly expectations serve only to keep women repressed. A barrage of judgment against their decisions keeps them in narrowly confined roles—Madonna or whore; party girl or good mother. There’s a feeling of comply or be socially shunned, be femininely docile or be called a witch.