Jennifer Aniston, Chinmayee Manjunath and the Baby Matrix

Jennifer Aniston

I predict you have seen Jennifer Aniston’s recent piece, “For the Record.” It coupled with Chinmayee Manjunath’s, “Why Motherhood is Choice I Decided not to Make” deserve discussion. 

Getting Beyond Being Fed Up

Jennifer Aniston’s had it with all the pregnancy rumors and more. In her words, she wrote the piece because she “wanted to participate in a larger conversation that has already begun and needs to continue.” Once and for all she has to state, “For the record, I am not pregnant.”

She feels fed up with how women are objectified and portrayed as “less than” if they are not married and mothers.  Spot on, she writes:

…we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.

Manjunath’s piece gives us yet another example of how society has a ways to go before we reach this point. As a married woman in her 30s, she gets so much pressure to get with the parenthood program. She smartly asks:

Isn’t it ironic that in a world in which we are redefining basic societal constructs and definitions, we want to stand by old, outdated constructs of marriage, parenthood and, especially, motherhood?

Beyond Ironic

Jennifer AnistonI’d say beyond ironic. At the root of the larger conversation both are speaking to is what I call the baby matrix. Like in the movie, The Matrix, – they are seeing through what we have been told to be “true” – in this case, about motherhood and womanhood. And pronatalism, a set of old beliefs (and I stress beliefs) that has been drilled into our social and cultural hardware for generations fuels this matrix. Aniston and Manjunath puncture holes in this matrix, and point to where the conversation now needs to go – and often.

As Aniston puts it, “We get to decide how much we buy into what’s being served up,” and stop buying the bullshit.”

And as Manjunath calls it out: “I like my life just the way it is – I feel grateful for my marriage, my chosen and given families, my work, and for the fact that my world is not incomplete without a child. Because it really is not. And if that bothers people, they need to examine their own lives. Not mine.”

We need to help others examine why they think the way they do about motherhood and womanhood. Why all the pressure to get with the pronatalist program? We need more and more people to see they are living in a matrix of beliefs – not truths – that have so many negative impacts on our society and the world.

Beyond being fed up, beyond lamenting, let’s see more of what these women ultimately do – directly call out pronatalist bull, and challenge people to question their pronatalist beliefs.

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