Long Reads

“The online reaction to Channing Tatum and Jessie J’s ‘relationship’ is deeply disquieting”

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29: Singer Jessie J is seen leaving in outside 'Good Morning America' on May 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)

Who knew that a rumoured game of mini golf could trigger such a wave of truly disgusting comments on social media?

In this week’s instalment of ‘things which aren’t news, but have been reported as such’, Channing Tatum and Jessie J’s rumoured relationship ranks pretty high.

“Who knew a mini golf job could be so crazy,” read the tweet that kicked the rumour mill into action. “Tonight I had to watch one of my asshole ex professors make out with his fiancé, then my co-worker cut his hand open and had to go to the hospital, and finally Jessie j and Channing Tatum came in to play a round.”

When someone asked for more info on the celebrity sighting, @mpower127 replied: “They were hella nice. Jessie came down and I was shook and then when I went to get them to play, Channing turned around and I was like [eyes emoji].”

“We hugged and got a pic and then I got to hear Jessie singing Somebody To Love with the radio at the end of the course.”

As if this didn’t all sound legit enough, People and US Weekly magazine have both upped the ante by seeking out an anonymous (and, therefore, 100% genuine and true) source to confirm the news.

“It’s very new,” said the source, whom the publications imply is a close friend – albeit a very loose-lipped and totally traitorous one – of Tatum/J. “It’s new, casual and they’re having fun together.”

We guess that, if Tatum and J really were playing crazy golf together, at least the “having fun together” sentiment is true. But whatever: for all intents and purposes, now, the Magic Mike star is apparently dating J, five months after confirming his divorce from Jenna Dewan (a fact which many a screaming headline has been clear to thrust under the public’s noses).

If this news (and we use the term in the loosest sense of the word) is true, then fine. Good for Tatum and J, we guess. What isn’t fine, however, is the public’s reaction to this story – because the comments online have been truly disgusting.

“Channing Tatum, you can do better than this,” wrote one.

“Jessie J is a s**tter version of Jenna,” added another.

And one more chimed in: “What a weird pairing!”

There are more, almost all of which are utterly abhorrent and unexpected in their cruelty.

The overriding sentiment, essentially, can be broken down into three distinct complaints:

  1. Tatum is ‘too hot’ for J
  2. J and Dewan are basically one and the same person, because – presumably – they’re both dark-haired women (THAT’S ALL IT TAKES, PEOPLE!)
  3. J has ‘stolen’ Tatum’s husband (despite the fact that this rumoured sighting comes almost half a year after their decision to divorce)

Right. Let’s tackle this in stages, shall we?

Firstly, rating somebody’s attractiveness is entirely subjective: what you consider a 10 could be someone else’s six. It’s also, of course, deeply sexist, judgemental and reduces people to the sum of their physical parts. Let’s not, shall we?

Secondly, it makes sense that Tatum – like all of us – has a ‘type’. Possibly his ‘type’ involves some potent mix of dark hair, a blunt bob, and some degree of musical ability (although, let’s face it, none of us close enough to the situation to know anything about it). What’s interesting, though, is that people have specifically compared J to Tatum, which brings us neatly to our ‘thirdly’…

It’s a long-perpetuated myth that women absolutely cannot get along: in fact, for as long as we can remember, we’ve seen women in the spotlight dogged by catfight rumours.

Don’t believe us? Cast your mind back to the media’s coverage of the all-female Ghostbusters remake, or Sex and the City, or Ocean’s 8, or Snow White and the Huntsman, or, ya know, any film with a predominantly female cast: all were unfairly accused of on-set squabbling, all were forced to issue denials.

And this endless comparison of J to Dewan seems women cannot get away from this tired old narrative, even when it comes to their personal lives. Because, let’s face it, J is not the ‘other woman’ who broke up a relationship: she’s just… well, she’s the ‘next woman’. She’s the woman who, if you believe the sources, decided to go on a date with a guy who’s been single for over five months. 

Or, if you don’t believe the sources, she’s the woman who was maybe possibly spotted in the vicinity of a guy who’s been single for over five months. And that same guy’s ex isn’t sat home pining for him, either: in fact, she’s apparently in a new relationship of her own (if E! reports are to be believed).

It’s the crime of the century, isn’t it?

Perhaps what’s most interesting about these nasty online comments, though, is the fact that almost all of them have been written by women. And I don’t necessarily think that these women are bad people, either: it’s all too easy to get swept up in the comments section of a celebrity story – and there’s no denying that gossip gives us a heady thrill.

What we need to be aware of, though, is the impact of our snarkier comments: the little cuts, and digs, and sly jabs. Because, while they may seem harmless, these comments give society permission to enforce its more sexist narratives: that women are constantly competing with one another, for example. That we, and only we, should be held accountable for a man’s crimes (again, I urge you to look at the overriding narrative of the ‘Other Woman’: why is she entirely to blame for the man’s transgressions?). That we should bow down to society’s impossible beauty and sartorial standards.

That it’s absolutely OK – normal, even – to judge a woman solely on her appearance.

So what do we do if we really don’t like the woman that our favourite celebrity is dating? Well, to quote my grandmother: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

It’s that or we all make like Amy Poehler and start shouting the phrase, “Good for you, not for me” from the rooftops. 

There’s a lot of power in those six little words: they help us to build one another up, rather than tear one another down. They reinforce the bonds of sisterhood, rather than pit us against each other in yet another boring “catfight”. And they champion kindness (and, boy, does this world need a lot more of that right now) above all else.

Most vital, though, is the fact that “good for you, not for me” celebrates both difference and an assertion of self, making it the ideal response to someone else’s life choices. These six little words channel nothing but empathy, appreciation and esteem. I suggest you write them on a post-it note and stick it on your mirror so you can be reminded of it before you go to bed and when you wake up. It is a philosophy that works for all walks of life.

Images: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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