I know what you're thinking: Of course Kourtney & Kim Take Miami is a sexist TV show. The Kardashians' fame stems from sex tapes and selling unrealistic body images. Saying Kourtney & Kim is good for women is like saying the IKEA's Swedish meatballs are good for horses.
I watch this show each week with extremely low expectations. Mostly, I'm hoping one of its characters will do something bizarre like slap a guy or give her sister a breastmilk bath direct from the source -- something the people of the Internet will want to read about the next morning, but which doesn't, y'know, destroy my faith in humanity.
But last night, Kourtney & Kim couldn't even clear that embarrassingly low bar. Instead, its plot -- and it is a plot; let's not pretend this show is unscripted -- was built upon a foundation of double standards and utter cruelty toward mothers, girlfriends, and women in general.
Throughout the season of KKTM, there's been rising tension between Kourtney Kardashian and her baby daddy, Scott Disick. The couple has two children together, 3-year-old Mason, and Penelope, who'll be a year old in July. Kourtney spends most of her time on the show caring for these kids, which is what mothers are supposed to do. This leaves Disick feeling neglected. It's a problem a lot of new parents have; parenting is a hell of a lot of work, and it can leave very little energy left over for each other.
But here's what most new parents don't have to deal with: Kim Kardashian, who takes a break from meddling in her best friend Jonathan Cheban's personal relationships to tell her sister that she'd better spice things up or "he's going to cheat on you, and it'll be your fault."
In addition to being a really harsh thing to say to someone you love (direct quote: "You're literally going to end up, like, alone"), the idea that it's a woman's responsibility to keep her man from cheating is some 1950s-era woman-hating bullshit. It perpetuates the stereotype of the ever-horny man who just can't control himself, and piles more pressure on women, who are expected to act more maturely and responsibly and with less sexual abandon. (Until their men want them to act sexy, that is.) When Kim tells Kourtney that Scott is going to cheat on her, she implies she couldn't really blame him if he did. She's giving her sister's boyfriend and the father of her niece and nephew a free pass to sleep around. In addition to being unfathomably cruel, it's also a gross double standard.
And it's extra-gross because the thing allegedly standing in the way of Kourtney spicing things up is motherhood -- already a double-edged sword for women in the public eye. If Kourtney started going out and partying with Scott, she'd be branded as a terrible mother in the tabloids. Instead, she's staying in and raising those kids, and she's been branded as a terrible partner by her own TV show.
But instead of refuting Kim's sexist claims, Kourtney takes her sister's advice to heart. The E!-watching world was then subjected to an hour of Kourtney trying and failing to capture Scott's attention, even planning an extravagant trip to Paris, all based on the premise that normal, healthy relationships are built on a foundation of fear and mistrust. It was infuriating -- not because Disick wasn't paying attention, but because Kourtney believed she had to do these things.
At the end of the show, Kourtney breaks down crying in frustration, and Scott apologizes for ignoring her while she jumped through the obstacle course of hoops he and Kim had set up for her. But it's too little too late; the message remains that Disick would've been justified in cheating on Kourtney if she hadn't taken action. Or, in broader terms: Women are to blame for men's bad behavior.
That's low, even for the Kardashians.
Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.
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