Unless you have been living under a rock for the last week, you know that Kim Kardashian West was the victim of an armed robbery in Paris, which involved her being gagged, tied up and fearing for her life.
The reaction to this robbery ranged from outrage to indifference. But there’s a darker side: the online hate that sprung up shocked and horrified me.
This got me thinking. Firstly, why does Kim get the amount of hate that she does? Secondly, what does this tell us about how we treat famous women?
I considered the legitimacy behind these reasons to dislike her. People often complain about not being able to escape the Kardashian dynasty on every social media platform. Some believe her to be unintelligent, arrogant or spoiled. Perhaps the most consistent complaint I have heard about her, is the view that she is “famous for nothing” and that her fame and fortune derived from the infamous leak of her sex tape with Ray J.
In addition to not only being famous for sex, she seems to fully use her sexual promiscuity to promote herself, from countless nude shoots to naked Instagram posts. Kim seems to use her body as a publicity tool.
However, I refuse to agree. Whenever we talk about famous women, their looks, attractiveness or sex appeal is always a factor, no matter what! Jennifer Lawrence is adorned for her beauty whilst Susan Boyle is constantly used as a joke for unattractiveness. Even Theresa May was scrutinized for her shoes. This is nothing but the product of a patriarchal society where the woman’s appearance is deemed as an indicator to the content of their character.
Kim’s public displays of nudity on social media are controversial. But why? Women can’t wear short or skimpy clothes without it being deemed overtly sexual, because women’s bodies have been sexualised by our patriarchal societies for a long time. Nipples are censored and women can’t even wear clothes that flaunt their figures without being called a slut. Society has worked this way for a long time. So in order for us to reverse this, a woman’s anatomy needs to be normalised. This is why movements like #FreeTheNipple exist, so that the bodies of women are normalised and will not be considered overtly sexual. Once we achieve this, the female body won’t be classified as promiscuous or “pieces of meat” as Piers Morgan would put it.
With regards to the cruel tweets and lack of sympathy for Kim, my personal belief is that this phenomenon is a product of our own invention. Whilst it is true that social media does lift a barrier between the everyday person and the celebrity, I feel it makes it harder to empathise with these celebrities. Entire personalities become something that you can just scroll past on your phone. When this is combined with the sexualisation of female bodies, this creates a premise that is often overlooked.. They become objects to interact with on a touch screen rather than human beings who are simply sharing their lives with us. That’s why it is so easy for us to comment snake emojis on Taylor Swift’s latest post. That’s why people feel like they can directly address Leslie Jones on Twitter with sexist and racist harassment.
The victim-blaming involved in Kim’s case is disturbing. It reveals a culture where the woman is blamed for violence or rape. So what if Kim flaunted her wealth? The robbers still had to decide that they’d gag her, tie her up and carry out the robbery.
Due to the phenomenon of social media, and the unprecedented celebrity status of Kim Kardashian, society is still adapting to the blurred lines of private and public that Instagram, reality TV and the likes give us. I see that it has made us less sympathetic as a society and has increased hostility towards women who are openly sexual. However, the solution isn’t to stop people posting naked selfies or pictures of their diamonds. We need a change in attitude towards women.