As a feminist, this is why I love the Kardashians

They're not as bad as you think

As a staunch supporter of gender equality and women’s rights, my list of icons includes the usual: Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, Michelle Obama, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

With a laundry list of such empowering and world-changing women, one might think that I would scoff at seemingly more frivolous pop culture icons. But some may be surprised to discover that I include a glamorous trio in my list of empowering women.

So here I stand, firm in my belief after years of contemplation. I will shout it from the rooftops: I love the Kardashians and you should too (or at least stop hating on them so much).

The Kardashian clan is the family that everyone loves to hate. Their E! show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is going on its 10th year. It has 12 seasons, several spinoffs and more than 180 episodes. The show centers around the Kardashian-Jenner family, both their silly hijinks and more emotional tribulations.

Even saying the name “Kardashian” often elicits eye rolls and scoffs, which got me thinking about the harsh way we judge celebrities. A huge theme of the hate directed against the Kardashian women is a common experience for many women: sexism.

When Kim was tied up, held at gunpoint and robbed in Paris last month, many people (including many women) not only said she deserved it, but rejoiced in seeing someone they hate so intensely have their life threatened.

The hatred directed toward the Kardashians is unjustified, sexist and often sickening.

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Allow to work through some frequent comments on the Kardashians and explain why these women deserve more respect.

They’re famous for nothing.

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Forbes recently reported that the Kardashian-Jenner clan collectively earned $122.5 million in June 2015-June 2016.

In addition to their reality show, they own several popular boutiques, wrote several books and developed profitable smartphone appsa clothing line, perfumes and beauty products. They are entrepreneurial geniuses.

In addition, the Kardashians have changed the face of Hollywood beauty. They have shown that you don’t have to be skinny, white and blonde to be considered sexy.

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig is a journalism professor at ASU and self-proclaimed Kardashian fan. She said that it is important to see diversity in the media.

“It’s very important, not just in beauty but in TV, in film, in print, to see people that are like you and represent you,” she said.

The Kardashians are outspoken about their Armenian heritage, and Kim has fought for recognition of the often overlooked Armenian Genocide.

“That’s important to always highlight different ethnic groups and underrepresented people or people that have been done wrong through history,” Fitzhugh-Craig said. “I think it’s really important that we know about this. I think that’s what they do, in a roundabout way.”

The Kardashians are fashion icons and businesswomen who are smarter than you think, and they don’t deserve to have this title taken from them because of bullying or labels. Which brings me to my next point…

They’re sluts/whores. What terrible role models!

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The Kardashians have celebrated female sexuality and confidently embraced their bodies despite venomous backlash. They gloriously rejoice in their womanhood in a world where women are expected to be small and self-conscious.

Kim’s 2014 Paper magazine photo spread made waves by “breaking the internet." But models do this constantly. Imagery of bodies and depictions of sexuality have been used as art since the beginning of time.

Of course, there’s the sex tape. You know, the one that came out nine years ago without Kim’s consent. One only needs to look at the treatment of Hulk Hogan’s leaked sex tape to see the gender double standard. Hogan’s lawsuit was funded by a billionaire, Gawker was shut down shortly after, and Hogan received a $31 million settlement. (Kim got a $5 million settlement.) 

When a man’s privacy is violated, other men rally around him and the leaker is punished. When a woman’s privacy is violated, she is blamed, denigrated and attacked for the rest of her life.

As a feminist, seeing how quickly people spew “whore” at women they don’t even know is disheartening. What does this say about the tight constructs we hold women to?

Even if Kim Kardashian isn’t your idea of a feminist icon, please stop the slut-shaming. Your misogyny is showing.

They just want money.

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As I mentioned above, the Kardashians are businesswomen. They struck gold on reality television and made fame work for them. I find it hard to believe that most of us wouldn’t jump at the opportunity for a little extra cash or even fame.

At the end of the day, the Kardashians are also a family. They have suffered through the deaths of loved ones. They have navigated through the messy waters of divorce. They love their kids.

Fitzhugh-Craig said a main reason she likes the show is because as a mother and grandmother, she can relate to Kris Jenner’s devotion to her children and how family-oriented the clan is.

“They’re genuinely about family, and a very strong family,” she said. “That’s number one for me personally.”

Maybe there’s a little Kardashian in all of us. If that scares you, it shouldn’t.


Reach the columnist at lallnatt@asu.edu or follow @LibbyAllnattASU on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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