The Turner-Jonas divorce, while seemingly another tally in the long list of celebrity decouplings this year, appears to have instigated a much more pernicious discourse. Even Taylor Swift, the patron saint of public breakups, did not receive nearly as much attention following her split from Joe Alwyn, and certainly not as many accusations from both the media and her ex-partner. With the addition of children, any parental split becomes increasingly fraught and entangled. Add TMZ to the mix, and implosion is all but certain.
While a number of paparazzi and fan photos alleged the couple’s involvement long before they confirmed it, Sophie Turner’s “insta official” post in January 2017 is a definitive beginning for the pair, at least in the public eye. The couple remained incredibly private, although in an interview that summer with the UK Sunday Times, the actress divulged that she had been in a relationship with someone who was encouraging an extrovertedness within her that she had previously forgotten. The relationship maintained ambiguity throughout the following months, until the couple took to Instagram to announce their engagement on Oct. 15, 2017. The couple reportedly broke up for just a day in May 2019, not long before they solidified their marriage in a shotgun-style Vegas ceremony. Their more official ceremony took place a month later in France, and just over a year later, the couple welcomed their first child in July 2020. Two years later, they welcomed their second daughter, and the couple seemed to happily endure quarantine and its aftermath. That is, until they were seen without wedding rings just a few weeks ago, and Jonas officially filed for divorce on Sept. 5.
After an interview with a public relations consultant, The New York Times alleged that the “amicable” split was anything-but amicable. Their expert-witness claims that in her work, public statements with such high levels of forced positivity are signs of a “spin.” It’s clear that Jonas and Turner are both invested in their images, but it seems that Joe is the only one actively involved in the reconstruction (or deconstruction) of his former partner’s public persona. In one of the first articles to break the news of the divorce, TMZ reveals from an anonymous source that Jonas has been the primary caretaker of the kids in the past year, suggesting that this is a contributing factor to the split. The Daily Mail takes the woman-bashing a step further with a headline that claims Turner had “partied without a care in the world” amidst her supposed divorce filings and marital troubles (how dare she). While there is no concrete evidence that Jonas or his PR team are behind this coverage, what is apparent is his silence amidst the cyber warfare against the mother of his children. In the most recent development in the now very public and very not-amicable split of the couple, Turner has filed a legal petition for the return of their children to the UK, alleging Jonas’ “wrongful detention” of their kids.
Facts and figures
The notion that Joe Jonas is a struggling single dad trying to juggle it all seems far-fetched. Jonas may be an industry-baby, multimillionaire, America’s sweetheart type, but he is certainly not the lone martyr he is being painted to be. The presence of nannies, babysitters, maids, chefs, chauffeurs and personal assistants in the lives of Jonas’ kids is all but certain. Even if the poor, struggling former child star was juggling it all on his own, the same sympathy wouldn’t be extended to the mother of their children if the roles were reversed. It is expected that mothers drop their careers to dedicate their lives to their children. In fact, doing the opposite has been viciously denounced until just recently. If Jonas was touring and left Turner to take the full responsibility of child care for a year, no one would notice. In the present cultural dynamic, however, Jonas’ responsibility for his children is congratulated, and the alleged reason for his divorce filing is regarded as legitimate.
While I cannot, nor should anyone else, claim to know the reasons behind the Turner-Jonas divorce, what is clear is that the immediate and unrestrained media persecution of Sophie Turner is rooted more in misogyny than in facts. Claiming to know what is right or wrong for any couple, family or individual is arrogant. Particularly when one goes as far as to defame the character of the targeted subject. Rather than what caused the divorce, my biggest question is why the immediate coverage of this family’s restructuring was taken as an opportunity for verbal violence rather than empathy. Furthermore, why did (or didn’t) the public fall for the PR tricks this time? Are we just evolving towards a more progressive society that regards women as whole individuals? Maybe we’re just getting better at smelling bullshit.
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