Wronged wife Sandra Bullock dropped the bombshell-of-all-bombshells when she announced on the cover of People magazine yesterday that she adopted a baby boy in January. And while I’m happy as a clam for Sandra and little Louis Bardo Bullock, I also find the way the media’s handling the story to be quite odd.
The New York Daily News‘ cover today says “Sweet Revenge!” and teases an article on their website about Sandra’s adoption with the line, “She doesn’t need a big baby like Jesse — she’s got a real one now.” Metro (a free newspaper handed out in big cities) trumpets, “Sandy’s Trump Card? Her Secret Adoption.”
I’m sorry, but why is a newborn baby a “trump card” or “sweet revenge”? It reminds me of celebrity tabloids’ whole “revenge body” concept: when a starlet gets a really bangin’ body after a bad breakup. Babies are great, but rather than getting a “revenge body” or a “revenge baby,” I would rather my husband just not cheat and lie. We can all agree that Sandra Bullock has been nothing but classy in her handling of this s**t show, so isn’t it odd that her “revenge” involves motherhood? How weird it is that her baby has emblematized a victory in the divorce battle?
I can understand why it’s tempting for the media to peg the story this way: Bullock and Jesse James began the process of adoption together four years ago and she’ll raise Louis as a single mother. She’s got enough love, smarts and money to do that on her own. Yes, in the great cosmos of “not screwing up at life,” Bullock wins and James is on the express train to Loserville (with a seat next to Jon Gosselin).
Why are we supposed to see her new baby as some kind of victory — as if a baby is the ultimate prize? Is a baby supposed to “make up” for a cheating neo-Nazi-boning husband? Literally, yes. She doesn’t “need” her soon-to-be-ex-husband, in the words of the Daily News, because she’s a mommy now! (She was already, of course, a step-mommy to James’ other kids. Poor souls!)
I’m not denying that to billions of women, motherhood is the most fulfilling, redeeming aspect of their lives — even for single mothers who are not millionaires like Sandra Bullock and seemingly have every card in the deck stacked against them. Yet I can’t help but think the framing of Sandra Bullock’s story is part of a crappy old narrative for women: Even if your husband is a liar and a cheater and romantic love doesn’t work out, a woman’s highest calling is to be a mom, so that will make you — and Sandra Bullock! — whole and happy at the end of the day.
Hey, if this is what really works for Sandra Bullock, good for her. But let’s consider the hypothetical opposite situation: If Bullock and James hadn’t adopted this baby, would she just be a sad, lonely, cheated-upon divorcée?