Back in September, CNN Parents posted a piece about the cross-Internet countdown to Kendall Jenner’s 18th birthday. It was pretty disgusting. (The countdown, not the piece.)
It was disgusting not just because of the rampant and ultimately meaningless coverage of all things Kardashian – as though we need to know more about the famous-for-no-good-reason family and are actually supposed to care – but because announcing, as if national news, with precise photo editing and all the bells and whistles, that the very day this teenager becomes legal is right around the corner, says volumes about the male gaze and teenage girls in the spotlight and on social media.
The truth is, a 17-year-old is a child, and though she may be considered an adult, so is an 18-year-old. She’s old enough to vote at 18 and get into certain concerts, but what all of this really means is that an 18-year-old girl can be the object of male fantasies without it being AS inappropriate as if she were, say, 17. She’s of age now! Thank god! To be fair, Kendall Jenner is as attention seeking as the rest of Kardashian/Jenner clan, and she is no more attention seeking than most teenage girls except that she just happens to be famous. But let’s be real. What every man with access to a computer is thinking is that getting with someone like Kendall Jenner can’t be considered statutory rape after she finally turns 18.
Given the sexual temperature of celebrity culture and the much publicized impending birthday, it comes as no real surprise that when Kendall Jenner did turn 18 in November, she allegedly began receiving offers upwards of $1 million to become a porn star. Is it all fair game because she’s been modeling bikinis and lingerie since she was 14 or because her own Instagram feed is blowing up with photos of her in hot pants, crop tops and plunging necklines? Is a woman who gets sexually manhandled asking for it because she’s wearing short shorts and fuck-me pumps? Unfortunately, that tends to be the line of thinking more often than not. It points to the unrelenting message that girls, celebrity and otherwise, receive about their worth in the world and it simultaneously reinforces what is deemed acceptable behavior in men.