If you haven’t seen it already, it’s been the top trending topic on social media this morning, and it’s most definitely worth a read. Actress, producer and director Jennifer Aniston has published a letter on The Huffington Post hitting back at the continuous objectification and scrutiny of her, and of women in general, and it is brilliant.
Though the constant obsession and speculation about her current reproductive status is the jumping off point, it is, she elaborates, indicative of a bigger media attitude towards women and their bodies, whether we are too skinny, too fat, in a relationship crisis because we’ve put on a pound, etc.
I say we because there probably isn’t a woman in the world reading it who won’t chime in with what she is saying. And it permeates from the poorest, most disadvantaged women to the biggest stars on the planet. It is a strange and sadly unifying shackle for us all.
I was recently reminded of it when asked by an Irish stars’ representative to not ask about marriage, and more notably motherhood in the interview. It was actually the first time someone had made the request and I was immediately happy to oblige but also highlight that I understood the reasoning. Because it wasn’t just her – all women’s wombs, particularly of those between the ages of 30 and 45, are subject to constant scrutiny, from family, friends, even strangers.
“When are you having children?” “Are you having more?” “Oh, will we be hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet?” Eh, none of your business. And if you are recently married, then you might as well accept that you are open season for speculation on when you will reproduce, as if this was still the only real quantifiable measure of your existence, your worth, and your union. If you somehow haven’t crowned the nuptials at some point with kids, then you are a bit tragic, a bit sad. And it seems it’s really just sad for the woman. Is anyone asking Justin Theroux what’s going on with his reproduction?
It is rare, if ever, that we celebrate the freedom of women in these positions, that they could potentially run the world, travel to their hearts’ content, fulfil all their dreams, just as men have been programmed and enabled to do since time immemorial. But no, we don’t want to read about that, we want to know when they will get pregnant.
And actually, the solution comes from us, as women. Men don’t actually obsess about this stuff. Men don’t care whether Jennifer Aniston has a baby or not. Women do. I have worked for a few different female bosses, and I’ve only ever heard women questioning why their boss was staying late in the office, and not rushing off to pick up her kids. Those questions are never asked by men, and also never asked of men. We need to change the record and start defining ourselves for the 21st and 22nd century, not the 19th. Lets start now.
Read Jennifer Aniston’s Huffington Post piece here