We’re reaching out because of something you said recently. Something that we found pretty disappointing, and before you ask—no, it wasn’t your admission that you keep a rhinestone whip beside your bed. That—in our humble estimation—is totally awesome [enthusiastic whip sound]! As is so much of what you do.
We have made no secret of the fact that you are the K sibling who wears the other half of our heart necklace. While your sisters are busy having babies/walking runways/managing Kanyes—you are the fun one, the down-to-earth one, the one who has too many kocktails and speaks openly about her kamel toe. You’ve had relationship struggles and weight struggles and struggles being the subject of malicious gossip. Not that your sisters haven’t, but when these things happen to you, we feel like we can relate. In this interactive era where Little Miss Perfects like Gwyneth Paltrow try to position themselves “everywomen,” you, Khloe Kardashian, really do seem to be “just like us.”
And like us, you sometimes say foolish things without realizing it. Which brings us back to the matter at hand…
During a recent interview with The Cut, you were asked about the American election. This, you were quick to admit, is not your area of expertise. Hell—you thought Super Tuesday was a sale. Which was totally hilarious. (Like you said—politics aren’t your thing). Less funny were your comments around voting motivation, which we will paste in below for quick reference:
“I get so annoyed when people say, ‘I want to vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman.’ Well that’s sad. So you’re voting for Hillary just because she’s a woman.”
You are definitely not the first person to make comments along these lines. In February the actress Emily Ratajkowski (currently making headlines as your sister Kim’s topless selfie sidekick) said that she wants the first female president to be “more than just a symbol.” Emily is a Bernie Sanders supporter—which is fine. Obviously, in any election, the issues should come first. It’s just that the dearth of women in power is an issue. And it’s not a small one. Still you—and your female millennial cohort in general—bristle against the notion that you might view Clinton’s femaleness as a selling point. And that, Khlo, is the sad part.
You say there is nothing shameful about a kamel toe. We say there is nothing shameful (or trivial or ignorant) about the desire to see a woman assume the most important political office on the planet. As the writer Jessica Valenti said in this great piece for The Guardian—“Only in a sexist society would women be told that caring about representation at the highest levels of government is wrong.” Equality matters, diversity matters, progress matters. So does shaking up the status quo, which, for 227 years, has meant POTUSes of the penile persuasion.
Are we saying that women should feel compelled to vote for Clinton (or made to feel as if they are “betraying their gender” if they don’t)? Of course not. Just that as far as totally valid and valuable qualifications are concerned—a candidate could do a lot worse than a vagina.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way—nobody is suggesting that anatomy alone is reason to support a candidate. If it really were about putting any female into power regardless of her opinions, then the same people who support Clinton (a Democrat who has spent decades fighting for woman’s rights and interests as a First Lady, a State Senator and the Secretary of State) would have thrown their support behind Carly “what gender issue?” Fiorina. If qualifications were secondary to sex then the women’s movement would have gotten behind President Palin.
Nor is anyone saying that Clinton is qualified just because she’s a woman. That word, though—just. It’s weird how it seems to get thrown in there…
Imagine, Khlo, that we told you that we bought an awesome new house “because it has a swimming pool.” Would your first thought be—Oh, I wonder if the new house also has a roof?
When you think about it, there is actually quite a bit of common ground between Hillary Clinton and the Kardashian sisters. You know how people are constantly writing you guys off, calling you bimbos, assuming that because you dress a certain way and talk a certain way that you can’t also be capable of running a successful business empire? And you know how nobody makes those same assumptions about, say, the stoner dudes from the Judd Apatow movies, or the Jackass guys who made millions setting their buttholes on fire? That is just good old fashioned systemic sexism at play—something Clinton knows maybe a thing or two about.
Her critics lose their shit when she begins sentences with, “As a woman…” As if there is something cheap or pathetic about reminding voters of the specific experience she brings to the table. Let’s talk about that experience a little bit, shall we?
As a woman, Clinton has spent decades being picked apart for her appearance, her marriage, the shrillness and/or the volume of her voice. When she projects seriousness, she is cold, unrelatable, shrew-like. When she shows signs of warmth people speculate whether her duties as a grandmother might compromise her ability to lead the free world. At 68, she has already gone through menopause—a relief since otherwise, she would almost certainly be fielding questions about how PMS might cause her to “press the button” without proper consideration. If she does become the first female president, her every decision and policy and haircut will be scrutinized and crapped on and called out as evidence of female frailty. And still she wants the gig.
We’re not trying to take away from successful male politicians who have worked hard to rise through the ranks, only to point out that Clinton has risen through those same ranks in a giant vat of quicksand. Under her incessantly-discussed pantsuits, there are battle scars the likes that most of her male counterparts could never understand. She is a pioneer, she is a survivor, she is a goddamn war hero…because she is a woman.
And still, her playing of the so-called “gender card” is seen a dirty, desperate, evidence of “reverse sexism,” which we are putting in quotes because we are pretty sure that’s not actually a thing.
We are also pretty sure that “because he’s a man,” has been an understood (if unstated) reason for electing leaders since time immemorial, and if you don’t believe us, you can consult your history books. Or you can also consult your current government, where women make up 19.4% of Congress, 20% of the Senate and 19% of the ironically- titled House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, you have two out of four presidents hopefuls who have quite literally argued over the size of their disco sticks. You have one candidate (Cruz) who is anti-choice, even in cases of rape, and another (Trump) who recently said if abortions become illegal, women who seek them would be “punished.” That’s when he’s not busy calling us dogs and bimbos, btw.
Are we saying that only a female leader can be good for female progress? No. In 2014, Obama talked about closing the gender pay gap in the State of the Union address, and generally he has a good record on supporting and de-stigmatizing women’s issues. Here in Canada, we have an enthusiastically feminist Prime Minister whose first order of business was appointing a cabinet that is 50 percent female. Like us, Justin Trudeau believes in taking steps to ensure a brighter, fairer future.
One where girls don’t feel limitations around their gender. Where they don’t have to seek validation from the “stronger sex,” or worry that their opinions don’t carry as much weight. When they think about power and leadership, they can see themselves standing front-and-centre, not posing supportively to the side. This is the symbolic value of having a female president.
And now, just for a sec, let’s talk about substance. This Atlantic article provides a great overview of how Hillary Clinton has devoted her career to standing up for female interests. Bernie Saunders mostly supports the same values, but to compare the two (in this specific realm) is like comparing a hashtag activist to a hunger striker. Clinton is not a symbol, but rather the living, breathing embodiment of the ideals she espouses and supports and has spearheaded over the last 30 years. She’s not perfect, but if the politics of gender equality are a jar that just won’t open–she has spent decades banging it against counters, running it under hot water, covering it in dishtowels to get a better grip. When it opens, we will have her to thank. Whether she gets to open it or not. And that is worth something.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Hillary Clinton is the candidate she is in large part “because she is a woman.” That is something to celebrate, not scoff at. And it is certainly something worth voting for, whether you choose to vote for her or not. When powerful women succeed, we all succeed. But then, you have a rhinestone crop beside your bed, so we’re guessing you know at least a little something about that already.
An Open Letter to Kim Kardashian, Re: The Sexy Lie
An Open Letter to Demi Lovato, Re: #NoMakeUpMondays
An Open Letter to Drew Barrymore, Re: Motherhood
An Open Letter to Rob Lowe, re: Boyeurism