Jameela Jamil hit the nail on the head when she called out the Kardashians for being “double agents” of the patriarchy. In her viral Channel 4 interview, Jamil drops a long list of insecurities that the Kardashians profit off of, including body fat, gravity and wrinkles. “You’re selling us self-consciousness,” Jamil concludes.
Unfortunately, what Jamil recognizes as a “betrayal against women” is only the tip of the iceberg. Self-consciousness is just one manifestation of what the Kardashians are really selling us: conflict. From the moment Kim K’s sex tape leaked, we’ve been keeping up with hyped-up clashes, the majority of which force the women on the show into problematic roles and narratives. The Kardashians have an expansive platform, which they sometimes use for good.
But more often than not, what we see is fighting, tears, weight-loss, and regret; when they aren’t at conflict with each other, you can be sure they are at conflict with their own selves.
The latest scandal, involving Kylie Jenner’s best friend Jordyn Woods and Khloe Kardashian’s baby daddy Tristan Thompson, is no exception. After Jordyn’s half-hour Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith, Khloe tweeted at Jordyn, accusing her of lying and ending with “BTW, You ARE the reason my family broke up.”
This was in direct response to one of the few forward-thinking statements from Jordyn’s interview: “I know I’m not the reason Khloe and Tristan are not together.”
The rest of the interview, sadly, felt like pandering to societal expectations that women take responsibility for men’s sexual advances.
Why are you lying @jordynwoods ?? If you’re going to try and save yourself by going public, INSTEAD OF CALLING ME PRIVATELY TO APOLOGIZE FIRST, at least be HONEST about your story. BTW, You ARE the reason my family broke up!
— Khloé (@khloekardashian) March 1, 2019
Multiple times Jordyn states that she should not have put herself in the position for the cheating to happen. And while at the surface this feels like a decent attempt to take responsibility for her actions, the implications of these statements are direct replications of victim-blaming.
What exactly is she apologizing for? Being somewhere she thought was safe with people she thought she could trust?
These are situations that most women are in week by week, if not day by day. Regardless of what went down, Jordyn shouldn’t be apologizing for simply being in somebody’s house.
Whether the rest of Jordyn’s story checks out is not relevant. The media coverage will be used to generate more ratings for the Kardashians’ show, and then we as an audience will move onto the newest trend. What will stick is the message this sends to young women and girls everywhere: it is the responsibility of women to make sure men are on their best behavior. Don’t give him the chance to go astray. Both Khloe’s pettiness and Jordyn’s apology propagate this message.
The glaring double standard is Tristan’s absence in all this.
While Jordyn is being publicly dragged and threatened on social media, he is flying under the radar. Neither the media nor the Kardashian family pressured him into a public apology.
In fact, the opposite is the case: Khloe protects and praises his private attitude. But we need to consider why he’s being allowed privacy when Jordyn is constantly under fire.
As hip hop artist Masika Kalysha tweeted, “What [Jordyn] Did was very stupid. But [why are] we not keeping the same energy with Tristan?”
What she Did was very stupid. But y r we not keeping the same energy with Tristan? My biggest problem with Jordyns interview, was that in explaining her position, she threw Khloe under the bus U didn’t have to call him her ex sis ?yes we knew lol but it wasn’t publicly announced
— Masika Kalysha (@masikakalysha) March 1, 2019
Khloe supposedly protects him because he is her daughter’s father. But she fails to give Jordyn the same consideration, even though Jordyn is Kylie’s best friend and has a much longer history with the family. If we insist on giving the Kardashians the spotlight, we need to keep a critical eye on how their approaches to conflict mimic toxic and patriarchal behavior.
Tristan needs to step up and take more public responsibility, and Jordyn should take much less. And while Khloe has the right to protect her family, she should also have the maturity to stop adding Twitter fuel to this media fire.
It’s unlikely that TV’s guiltiest pleasure will disappear any time soon, especially as the youngest generation of Kardashians start growing up. But consumers can determine what content we feel is worth our time.
After all, 2019 is the year of Marie Kondo-ing all the BS and sticking with things that bring us joy. The drama-infused reality TV that captivated us in the early 2000s is getting stale, and so are the patriarchal practices that it promotes.
We know that these women are powerful, but we need to ask ourselves if they are empowering. As long as they are capitalizing off fighting between women, the answer is no.
Conflict, both internal and external, is a natural part of life. But so is healing and growth.
Turning our precious time, attention, and money to things that foster the latter is essential to thriving in a world that is already full of very real problems.
Editor’s Note: Khloe retracted her statement about Jordyn and put some of the public heat on Tristan. Watching her move forward is content worthy of 2019:
What’s been harder & more painful is being hurt by someone so close to me. Someone whom I love & treat like a little sister. But Jordyn is not to be blamed for the breakup of my family. This was Tristan’s fault.
— Khloé (@khloekardashian) March 2, 2019
I have to move on with my life & count my blessings, my family, my health, & my beautiful baby True.
— Khloé (@khloekardashian) March 2, 2019
What a welcome and pleasant plot twist!