(Or: To assume makes an ASS out of you at the very least)
A 3 year engagement during which Jennifer had to endure countless snarky comments about calling off the wedding (which they clearly haven’t done, choosing instead to get married on their own terms rather than sharing it with the press), an iconic ex (the only guy in the world for whom the saying “he’s no Brad Pitt” doesn’t apply) who got married to the person he cheated on Jennifer with (not to mention the collected gang of children), and a whole lotta rubbish talk about how she could have kept Brad if only she’d agreed to get up the duff by him.
This stuff enrages me. If you look at the news articles today, everyone is speculating about how at 46 she’s “too old” to have children… Comparing her with Saint Angie the Fertile (and rescuer of multi-hued adoptees) and generally implying that she’s got a poor second choice in Justin.
The Daily Mail, aka The Daily Hate, took this happy occasion as an opportunity to revisit all Jennifer’s past “failed” relationships. Because 46 year olds shouldn’t have had any other relationships at that age… I mean, what a massive ho bag, right?
Yeah, because I bet being a newlywed she’s sitting around thinking about how she totally missed out on Brad Pitt and, err, John Mayer. (By the by, I always feel bad for Vince Vaughn – who wants to follow Brad Pitt? Actually he’s way more my type than unfunny Brad Pitt, and I think he is very attractive.)
The thing that really gets my goat is the assumption that the reason why Jennifer Aniston doesn’t have children is because she didn’t want them. A quick squizz through the DM comments section (a reliable way to remind yourself that the world is full of nuts) reveals that this assumption is depressingly widespread.
To paraphrase the prevalent views:
Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston because he wanted to have kids.
Yep, it’s a shame that Jennifer didn’t permit herself to be impregnated by her cheating husband. I’m sure if she’d have done that, Brad would have been completely immune to Angelina’s charms.
Jennifer obviously doesn’t want children. She’s too old anyway.
Uh huh. The fact that she doesn’t have children definitely means that she doesn’t want children.
Let’s just examine those assumptions for a minute, shall we?
Jennifer’s 46 and she’s never had children. What if… (let’s just think on this for a second)… What if she can’t have children? What if she’s been trying all these years to have children? (Okay, maybe we can leave out the Mayer years… Surely no sane person in their right mind would choose to be impregnated by Mayer the Player; I mean, it would be like getting up the duff with Simon Cowell or something… Oh.)
Imagine for a minute how bloody devastating it must be, not only to be dumped publicly by Brad Pitt who then flaunts his new relationship in Vanity Fair and various African countries but who then goes and collects/begets five children in a few years? Imagine again that you’ve tried to have children but never managed to have any? And then for the world media to blame you for the break up of your marriage, because you weren’t trying hard enough to please the cheating cad by having his children?
I could be wrong, and maybe Jennifer is one of those people who isn’t interested in having children. (I’m pretty sure I’ve read an article where she debunks this rumour, something along the lines of “I never said I didn’t want children”.)
The point is, we don’t know. And to speculate that she doesn’t want children just because she doesn’t have them… Well, firstly, it is a completely unfounded assumption that could actually be really hurtful and secondly, it is none of our business!
Extrapolate this to our own lives. How many of us have been hurt by the assumption that we don’t want children, that we are “career women” or child haters? That we’re childless by choice? That we should be objects of pity or scorn because of our presumed barren old hag-ness, the crazy cat lady stereotype?
I’ve been told by numerous people that I am a child hater just because I’ve objected at times about how children are prioritised over everything else, or I’ve not wanted to be surrounded by children or go to baby parties where I’ll be the only barren shrivelled up female.
Nobody stops to think that it might be self preservation. That we, the infertiles, might not want to be reminded of our childlessness all the time. That we might be cut to the core over accusations that our childlessness is a choice. That all the years we’ve been childless (15 and counting) have been years of monthly disappointment and loss.
So I’m asking all of us to take a step back and help make a change in the way that women are evaluated and assumed about.
Next time one of your friends of colleagues makes a comment about how so-and-so is a “career woman” who prioritised work over kids, or a Hollywood star who is “too vain” to have a baby… Tell them not to make assumptions.
Maybe your colleague has been going through gruelling IVF treatment and miscarriages, and hearing those words is wounding to her.
Maybe that starlet has a glittering career and glamorous life, and yet all the money in the world can’t buy her what she really wants, the ability to carry her own child.
Or maybe she just doesn’t want children. And that’s okay too.
The point is, you don’t know another’s struggles. Assumptions can hurt. They invalidate people’s experiences. They make us all a little less human.
So next time, compassion. And joy for those of us who are childless but who still find happiness without children.
Do these guys look unhappy to you?