Stop the media's undermining, manufactured catfights
November 5, 2015
Once again, Kylie and Kendall Jenner made TIME magazine’s 2015 Most Influential Teens list alongside activist Malala Yousafzaich. The list features teenagers who have made a significant global impact and included teens such as transgender activist Jazz Jennings to actress and singer Zendaya.ch
Despite the fact that TIME magazine stated they consider “accolades across numerous fields, global impact through social media and overall ability to drive news”ch as their criteria for determining who made the cut, there seemed to be an incredible amount of backlash by many criticizing the list for comparing the Jenners along the same lines as Yousafzai.
Let me just get it out of the way and say, yes, I agree that Yousafzai has definitely made larger contributions toward human rights advocacy and female education.
However, it is not fair to pit the Jenner sisters against Yousafzai; diminishing the Jenners’ contributions should not be the only way we are able to celebrate Yousafzai’s accomplishments. After all, the TIMES list was featuring people that are influential, and while Malala has certainly inspired millions, Kylie and Kendall have proven their influence as well, simply in different ways.
Kylie Jenner is considered one of the “most watched teenagers in the world” with over 60 million followers across her Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram platforms — she starts trends the rest of the world followed, whether it’s the #KylieJennerLipChallenge or the several makeup trends that she has single-handedly inspired.http://www.people.com/article/kylie-jenner-challenge-social-media-lip-shot-glass-trendch
Her sister Kendall, on the other hand, has an incredible fashion resume, walking the runway for Chanel and Versace and featured on the covers of magazines such as GQ, Vogue Paris and more. Both sisters have certainly showed the impact they’ve made in in the style world at such a young age.
While these women certainly have not made as large of an influence in human rights advocacy as Yousafzai, this shouldn’t be reason to diminish any of the accomplishments the sisters have achieved.
In fact, this epidemic of negatively comparing women has been running rampant over the past few decades, specifically in the entertainment genre. Over and over again, the media sets women up for failure when they pit women against one another rather than being able to celebrate each individual’s achievements.
This problem, however, is usually exclusive to women. Rarely do I read a tabloid magazine featuring a “catfight” between two male celebrities despite the fact that conflict is not unique to females. Journalists will gleefully report and embellish on Twitter battles between female celebrities and the idea that women will lash out against one another for male attention has long been the premise of a multitude of reality television shows such as “The Bachelor,” “The Real Housewives” and more.
There’s even the classic example of “Who wore it better?” featured in almost every women’s magazine; this is yet another type of competition forced between women. In every instance, only one woman can come out a winner while the other ends up “losing.” What makes matters worse is that when we remain passive about this problem. It’s common to see women perpetuating this cycle themselves; I often see women bring down female companions, using words the media often uses to describe us such as “catty.” This is extremely dangerous for numerous reasons.
Tanisha Afnan, chsophomore in LAS, agrees and explains, “With all the factors tearing down women, we need to depend and support each other. When women can’t rely on other women to be their allies in the struggle we all face, it really works to erase all the progress we’ve made in terms of equality.”
While many of us have been trained since we were born to shut down other women and to see each other as competitors, it is our job to empower other women, not negatively compare ourselves to one another. We need to continue to celebrate each other’s accomplishments, but not at the cost of bringing another woman down.
As the wonderful feminist and my personal role model Elle Woods says, “We girls need to stick together. We can’t try to look good by making each other look bad”.
Kaanan is a sophomore in LAS.