People Are Shaming Kylie Jenner For Her Age, & It Shows How Women Really Can't Do Anything Right
Fans lost it on Friday afternoon (at about 4:45 p.m., because I think Kylie Jenner has a sick sense of humor when it comes to breaking news) when news broke that Kylie Jenner is pregnant with her first child with Travis Scott. TMZ broke the news citing sources close to the couple, and then People confirmed the news, citing its own "sources." Regardless, it's reportedly happening, and people cannot even. I'm not exactly a Kardashian fan, so honestly my first reaction to this is to roll my eyes and walk away — that's until I saw that the internet is full of jokes about Kylie Jenner's pregnancy and her age. Like, really? The "jokes" are just a combination of slut-shaming and sexism, and they're exactly what's wrong with the way we "consume" and judge celebrities' lives.
Jenner, who is 20 years old, is reportedly due in February, according to People. (Neither Jenner nor Scott have confirmed the news themselves, and neither have their representatives.) A source told People, "They started telling friends a few weeks ago. The family has known for quite some time. She is REALLY excited and so is Travis!” And if that's the truth, we should all just congratulate her and go enjoy our Fridays, but it's never really that easy, is it guys?!
No, of course, people had to start giving their *hot takes* on the pregnancy. I sort of get it, because when you're a celebrity you put yourself in the public eye. To some extent, you just have to recognize that you will be criticized; like if you're Kanye West, you can't just support Donald Trump for president and expect to not get crap for it. But, that "right to criticism" defense for celebrities stops when you venture into criticisms that are racist or sexist, for example.
But unfortunately not everyone on the earth is a good person, so of course the sexist and ageist attacks on Kylie Jenner after news of her pregnancy broke rolled in by the dozens. It was as if someone had shouted, "Unsolicited opinions about a woman and her choices welcome here!"
And then someone shouted, "Where are the men?! Oh god, whatever will we do without the men's opinions!" And so god giveth:
It might seem funny to someone who I would not be friends with to joke about Jenner carrying her first baby at the age of 20, but there are so many issues with it (aside from the fact that it's none of your business). First, the idea that Jenner is too "young" to have a baby is the result of our constant infantilization of women even when they are older than 18 (the legal age that we consider someone an adult in a court of law). Just like we don't trust women to decide when they can't be pregnant, we also don't trust them to decide when they can. The effects of this are most often seen in anti-abortion laws across the country. But women know when they are ready to have a child. There is research to support this, and it's not worth spending anymore time on.
Second, it is sexist to assume that Jenner is too young to have a child and take care of it, but to not assume the same of Scott, who is reportedly the child's father. Scott is only five years old than Jenner. The difference between 20 and 25 — and I say this from experience — is your alcohol tolerance, how late you can stay up on weeknights, and your ability to pay your own bills, for most people. Much of Twitter is questioning Jenner's ability to take care of a child, emotionally and financially, but since we don't know her personally, we have no evidence that her emotional support would be insufficient. And as for the financial part of the equation: Jenner's net worth is over $45 million, so I think she's alright. But those facts aside, why isn't anyone looking into Scott's financial history if they're going to criticize Jenner's? Why isn't anyone questioning his ability to emotionally support a child? He will be one of the two parents. This double standard is yet another example of the issue with this age criticism.
The demand that we know a woman is "emotionally stable" enough to make decisions about her life — whether that be the decision to get married, to have children, to quit their jobs, or to have a hysterectomy at a young age — is one rooted in the idea that women are dumber than men, and that men "know best." But it's also one that results from the hypermasculinity that paints emotion as "weakness." Women's unpredictable emotions, which go haywire anytime they have a period or come within five feet of a bar of chocolate or an expensive pair of shoes, mean they don't really know what they need or want. They really can't ever take care of themselves without others' input, or so the sexist argument goes. But, obviously, all of that is horse sh*t. Having emotions doesn't make your decision-making less sound. And women are not intellectually inferior (I can't believe I have to say that).
Lastly, there's a slut-shaming aspect to criticizing whether Jenner should be pregnant at her age. We don't criticize women in their late 20s and early 30s for getting pregnant for a few reasons: 1, it's assumed that those women have stable partners or are married and haven't been "sleeping around," lest they be damned to the fiery pits of "slutty" hell; and, 2, people assume that they are more financially and emotionally stable and so have the time and energy to support a child. But we already addressed no. 2 above. Even though it's none of our business, Jenner has plenty of money, and we have no insight into her emotional status when it comes to raising a child.
Jenner is clearly facing slut-shaming, though, despite the fact that it is 2017 and a woman can sleep with whom she wants and have babies with whomever she wants. People have sex, often well before marriage, and often in their teens — this is just something that many people can't seem to accept. Additionally, Jenner is an educated woman who likely knows what happens when you have sex, so the idea that she is "too young" to understand her decision is really nonsensical and only rooted in sexism, for all the reasons I described above.
Jenner also doesn't owe us anything. She is not living her life for us or for our entertainment, despite what some people may think. We don't get a say in her decisions, just like we don't get a say in our neighbor's decisions to have very loud sex at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday with his partner. (You go, Steve. No slut-shaming here, but I'd like to sleep, please.)
I think this quote from the People article really says it all. A source reportedly said:
Everyone is overjoyed for her. This is the happiest she’s ever been.
And that's all anyone really needs to know. Assuming that she's too young or can't handle being a mom is assuming that she is somehow unhappy with her pregnancy (or doesn't know that she is), and all of those assumptions are rooted in sexism and the misogynistic need to control women's choices. And, as my mom used to say, to assume makes an a*s out of you and me.
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