Jen and Ange: One Woman's Pain Is Not Another Woman's Joy

When the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce spawns a thousand Jennifer Aniston rejoicing memes​

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I will guiltily admit that, last night after a couple of glasses of wine, my housemates and I spent a good 45 minutes scrolling through Instagram and sniggering at the many memes of Jennifer Aniston rejoicing or giving a smug side eye.

The news that Angelina Jolie had filed for divorce from Brad Pitt sent ripples through the Hearst office, with all of us falling over ourselves to cover if first, to make sure we had spelled the names of Brangelina's many children correctly and to deliberate noisily over what might have caused the split.

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Celebrity gossip is always a source of feverish glee, however disheartening that might seem. And before anyone gets on their high horse about the extent to which the media covers it - if the demand wasn't there, we wouldn't generate the supply.

So, while it's a difficult idea to stomach - that a Taylor Swift break-up story is always going to out-pace a post about women's equality or an interview with a rocket scientist  - it's also the nature of the internet.

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What we can do, however, is try to be sage in our coverage - or funny, where applicable - and to push back every now and then, when something feels too callous or unfair. 

And today, we need to have another think about the way we're pulling Jennifer Aniston into the context of the Brad and Angelina divorce.

This morning I paused my Twitter scroll when I came across this:

It made me feel horrendously sheepish for enjoying all of those Jen memes. 

For while it might be true that there is a rewarding sense of retribution in history allegedly repeating itself, we do also need to remember that at the centre of the drama is a woman suffering and that should never be celebrated. 

Smug-Jen memes might be funny, but they play into a concerning narrative about how we still portray women in these situations.

Namely, that we are pitted against each other in an endless catfight for dominance and attention.

It's reductive and blind to the nuances of any given situation. It also paints us to be frighteningly inhuman - the idea, as Amanda pointed out, that one woman's pain is the counterbalance for another's happiness, is upsetting.

In this particular situation, we're also perpetuating the idea that Jennifer Aniston is still just a sum of her marital and reproductive 'failures.'

This is an actress with a slew of Emmy, SAG, GLAAD, Golden Globe and People's Choice awards and yet we're still wasting time and column inches discussing why she hasn't yet given birth and whether or not she's still hung up on Brad Pitt, undermining both her incredible career and also her marriage to Justin Theroux.

As much as Instagram lols have been a source of light relief in what is actually a seriously sad situation, we cannot in one breath champion sisterhood and #girlsquads and, in the next, corrode all of that by celebrating a woman becoming victorious in the context of another woman's heartbreak.

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