"After four wonderful years of marriage, we have mutually decided to end our marriage," shared Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner on Instagram on September 6. "There are many speculative narratives as to why but, truly this is a united decision, and we sincerely hope that everyone can respect our wishes for privacy for us and our children."
Despite this seemingly amicable announcement, Jonas' PR team later hostilely dragged Turner's reputation through social media mud by not defending her. Outlets accused Turner of being a bad mother, claiming she spends too much time away from her two young children with Jonas.
One of the first media outlets to leak speculative narratives was TMZ. An anonymous source claimed that Jonas "had access to a ring (camera) that he said captured (Turner) saying and/or doing something that made him realize the marriage was over."
In this case, using anonymous sources is problematic, not to mention unethical by journalistic standards. They just fan the flames of misinformation.
"She likes to party, he likes to stay at home," explained yet another anonymous source in the TMZ article. The Daily Mail published an article reiterating these claims, releasing candids of Turner drinking and dancing with friends, insinuating that she'd partied "without a care in the world" just days before they announced divorce.
Yet the day after the divorce was announced, Jonas was photographed by TMZ at lunch with his daughters. "Joe kept a happy face for the kiddos, making them smile and trading high-fives as everyone ate and chatted," according to the article. Notice how TMZ failed to report any bad press on Jonas, who is also traveling, working and partying on tour with The Jonas Brothers.
Compared to Jonas, these accusatory statements have damaged Turner's reputation and left room for speculation to fester. A woman's societal value rests upon factors like motherhood and marital status. When rumors circulate, she is devalued and villainized in the eye of the media.
Turner is just one of many women to face this scrutiny. Time and time again, media outlets publish inherently misogynistic narratives to sell sensational stories.
The 2021 documentary "Framing Britney Spears" details the impact of Justin Timberlake's allegations against Britney Spears following their split in 2002. Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" music video featured an actress resembling Spears and played into rumors that she had cheated.
"The way that people treated her, to be very high school about it, was like she was the school slut, and he was the quarterback," explains Wesley Morris, a critic from The New York Times interviewed in the documentary. "(Timberlake) essentially weaponizes the videos to one of his singles to incriminate (Spears) in the demise of the relationship."
Yet, during various interviews, Timberlake has bragged about his sex life with Spears.
The alarming success of "Framing Britney Spears" prompted Timberlake to take accountability for his actions. In 2021, he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying, "I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny."
In an interview with People, a PR representative of Jonas claims accountability for the media's poor treatment of Turner. "(Jonas) has already disavowed any and all statements purportedly made on his behalf that were disparaging of (Turner)," the representative said. "They were made without his approval and are not consistent with his views."
But by urging Turner to "reconsider her harsh legal position and move forward in a more constructive and private matter," Jonas' PR team reveals themselves as being just as critical as the media outlets. Meanwhile, Jonas' only concern is "the well-being of his children."
The polar opposite connotations of "harsh legal position" and "well-being of his children" reveal the reversal of stereotypical gender roles. Whereas men are intrinsically logical, women are inherently motherly. Jonas is the victim in this PR spin, and Turner is vindictive.
While misogyny is "not consistent with his views," it's undoubtedly Jonas' PR team's approach. These unhelpful stereotypes and accusations only ensure the perpetuation of this pop culture pipeline.
Just be careful, Jonas: Winter is coming.