Everyone tuned into Sunday night’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians hoping the titular famous family would finally respond to the pregnancy rumors orbiting two of its stars, Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. What fans got instead, bafflingly, was essentially an episode-long media training for Koko, most of her sisters, and their momager Kris Jenner; Kylie didn’t even show up. While season 14’s “Press Pass,” didn’t deal with the baby speculation, it did wrestle with another subject constantly hanging above the Kardashians: sexism. In an unexpected turn, the monster of misogyny reared its ugly head during an appearance of basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of all people.
Former Lakers star Abdul-Jabbar hypothetically appeared on KUWTK to chat with Kris about her family’s place in pop culture. His eventual Hollywood Reporter story on the clan did, after all, appear in mid-August, less than a month before the Kardashians’ 10-year anniversary special. Yet, when you actually hear Abdul-Jabbar’s line of questioning for the famed reality TV mom, it sounds like he’s actually in Kris' office to interrogate her about the younger Kardashian women’s more sex-positive behavior.
From what we can see thanks to KUWTK’s editing, it appears the athlete-turned-columnist first asked about Kris’ laudable business acumen, since she is a woman without a technical education in the industry who turned most of her children into veritable, multimillion-dollar stars. That is a conversation worth having. Yet, Abdul-Jabbar immediately veers the conversation away from such a rich topic — one question does not suffice — to ask, “Are you comfortable with the sexual nature of the photos and Instagrams your daughters have put out there? Because, you know, your grandchildren are going to have to deal with some embarrassment and teasing.”
The number of issues with that statement are legion. Off the bat, it’s inappropriate to question whether Kris is “comfortable” with what her adult children do on social media. All of the Kardashian daughters are now fully grown women, spanning the ages of 20 to 38. It is in no way their mommy’s job to approve what they do with their bodies, or how the choose to share them with the world.
On top of that, Kris has long supported how everyone from Kourtney to Kylie has presented themselves through social media, no matter how scantily clad they might get. If you didn’t already know that, you simply need to scroll through Kris’ own Instagram page, which is filled with her daughters’ many curve-baring, nearly naked-to-actually naked photos. For example, in early August, likely when “Press Pass” filmed, Kris re-posted a booylicious photo of Khloé, which serves an advertisement for the youngest Kardashian sister's Good American brand. So, Abdul-Jabbar didn’t even need to ask the question, as Kris’ long-time behavior has already been her statement on it.
But, it feels like the former basketball player only asked his subject about her “comfort” level on the images to shame Kris for what he assumes will be the outcome of the Kardashians’ many sexualized photos. And you know what they say about making assumptions. The “you know” of his statement feels purposefully condescending as he predicts children like North West and Mason Disick will face “embarrassment” for their mothers’ behavior on the ‘gram.
The bigger question is why should those famous kids have to face teasing over the fact their moms sometimes go topless, or close to, on social media? Why does this fact mean the Kardashian grandkids will definitely have to be mocked by their peers one day? It would be far better to consider a world where children aren't bullied for the simple fact their mothers are comfortable and proud of their own bodies. Imagine if Abdul-Jabbar asked Kris if she believes her children are helping usher in that kind of shame-free society.
While business genius Kris is being spoken down to on her own show, famous fathers have never been asked similar questions about their shirtless, sexualized sons. Celebrity dad Stellan Skarsgard has never been interrogated about whether he believes famous son Alexander Skarsgard’s hyperrsexualized romps through True Blood have brought shame upon the family. The same goes for younger son Bill Skarsgard, who had an equally sexy, bloody time throughout oft-forgotten canceled Netflix gore-fest Hemlock Grove, and then subsequently turned a murderous clown into a Twitter sex symbol. Similarly, no one is trying to track down Hemsworth dad Craig Hemsworth to ask about his trio of sons — Luke, Chris, and Liam Hemsworth — who have all made a career out of bringing premium shirtless Australian beefcake to both Hollywood and Instagram.
Following Abdul-Jabbar’s logic, shouldn’t Liam Hemsworth’s iconic “ice baths and flexing in tiny shorts” photo also lead to a hearty round of schoolyard torment for is many nieces and nephews? Yet, no one is banging down Father Hemsworth’s door to ask that question.
After watching Kris and Abdul-Jabbar’s KUWTK conversation go down, it’s no surprise the resulting column about the Kardashians— patronizingly titled “Kris Jenner: Role-Model Businesswoman Or Queen Of Exploitation?” — has an entire paragraph criticizing the family’s sexualized aesthetic. “While the mother presents an icon of business success, do the daughters promote a destructive image of women, perpetuating the boobs-over-brains ideology?” reads one line from the story. Bizarrely, Kris, who was interviewed at length, as “Press Pass” proves, isn’t allowed to answer that leading question. Rather, it’s the athlete's voice once again, saying, “After all, robust cleavage seems to be the default persona for all the women.”
Throughout the entire paragraph about “cleavage” and the Kardashian women’s general lack of college education, save for Kourtney, who is merely referred to as “one of Kris’ daughters,” not a single quote from the KUWTK momager is used. In fact, only three of Kris’ responses are presented in the nearly 900-word story.
Amid all of this sexism, is anyone shocked Kris Jenner hates doing interviews?
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