Jennifer Aniston Doesn’t Owe You a Baby
And neither does any woman or uterus-bearing person ever.
In a recent interview with InStyle Magazine, Jennifer Aniston sat down with her friend Molly McNearney (writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live!, married to Jimmy Kimmel in real life) to discuss her upcoming projects, her relationship with the press, and the question that has nagged her ever since Friends became a global hit: when are you going to have a baby?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve read tabloid headlines, watched canned interviews, and read a thousand think-pieces on the status of Jennifer Aniston’s womb. I can think of no other celebrity ever who is so closely associated with not having children. The media seem endlessly puzzled by Aniston’s lack of babies. Doesn’t she want them? Who is she having them with? What will she do if she doesn’t procreate?! Now on the verge of turning 50 (damn girl, is Smart Water bottled from the Fountain of Youth?), Aniston addressed the non-stop baby scrutiny.
It’s pretty crazy. The misconceptions are “Jen can’t keep a man,” and “Jen refuses to have a baby because she’s selfish and committed to her career.” Or that I’m sad and heartbroken. First, with all due respect, I’m not heartbroken. And second, those are reckless assumptions. No one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. No one considers how sensitive that might be for my partner and me. They don’t know what I’ve been through medically or emotionally. There is a pressure on women to be mothers, and if they are not, then they’re deemed damaged goods. Maybe my purpose on this planet isn’t to procreate. Maybe I have other things I’m supposed to do?
Jennifer Aniston is an accomplished actress, a businesswoman, and a philanthropist. She is wildly successful, genetically blessed, and richer than God. She has dated some of the most desirable men on the planet. So who gives a shit if she has kids or not? The non-stop obsession with Aniston’s fertility is indicative of a larger cultural conundrum: we are unable to see a childless woman as satisfied and content with her choices.
There is no cultural role model for this kind of woman, no icon of childlessness that we can see ourselves in. The narrative remains stubbornly in place, that if a woman doesn’t have babies, she is somehow sad or missing out on life’s defining experience. That a woman cannot be whole without a baby is a dangerous and toxic fallacy born from the minds of men who think women are nothing more than birthing chattel. It’s sexism, plain and simple.
I’ve definitely had my fair share of sexism in the media. Women are picked apart and pitted against one another based on looks and clothing and superficial stuff. When a couple breaks up in Hollywood, it’s the woman who is scorned. The woman is left sad and alone. She’s the failure. F that. When was the last time you read about a divorced, childless man referred to as a spinster?
Indeed, there is no male equivalent for “spinster.” There’s just “bachelor”, which conjures an image of a swinging silver fox surrounded by women. “Spinster” on the other hand, conjures a decrepit woman drinking cold soup out of an old shoe. Women of our generation grew up being told that we could “have it all.” And that’s true … if you are very wealthy. Otherwise, you may get it all, but not at the same time, and not without extensive planning and luck.
There is also a healthy dose of straight-up envy in this articles. Aniston appears to have it all, so the news coverage focuses almost exclusively on the one thing she doesn’t have. It’s tall poppy syndrome with a filter of misogyny.
While the concept of “having it all” is meant to be liberating, it puts insanely unrealistic expectations on women. We have to have a successful career, great friends, loads of cash, a smoking hot sex life, and 2 kids and a white picket fence. Ali Wong touches on this in her recent Netflix comedy special, Hard Knock Wife, saying that people always ask her, “How on earth do you balance family and career? Men never get asked that question because they don’t!”
I hope Jennifer Aniston gets whatever she wants in life. Whether that includes babies or not, it’s entirely up to her and no one’s damn business. Except for Courtney Cox’s.
(via InStyle Magazine, image: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
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