Kanye West Harassing Kim Kardashian Is No Laughing Matter
I’ll admit, I laughed at first. The Civil War poster meme with Kanye West’s and Pete Davidson’s faces photoshopped in was funny. The context you need to know is that Kanye West, rapper, and ex–husband of Kim Kardashian West, is lamenting his separation from her in the most public way possible. He’s also taking his frustration out on Kardashian’s current partner, comedian Pete Davidson.
It began with similar–tier memes joking about him facing off with Pete Davidson. Then there were the personal attacks on Davidson that he began — implying that Davidson was not worthy of Kardashian. Every day was a new headline-making antic from him: beefing with people who associated with Davidson, praying for Kim to “come home,” publicly asking for her back, publicly bashing Davidson again.
But gradually, what began as an amusing series of events escalated. West began showing up to events uninvited. He allegedly sent a truck full of roses to Kim’s house. And most recently, he posted screenshots of private chats between them: notably, one where Kim Kardashian asked him to stop “creating a dangerous environment,” adding that should he continue, Davidson would get hurt.
To be clear, these are the actions of an abuser. Many took to social media to express increasing concern over West’s behavior, noting that the same was concerning/worrying and would give domestic violence lawyers enough to go on. When we laughed at first, it may have been because it is amusing to watch a superstar debase themselves publicly after heartbreak. What’s less funny is when they threaten, stalk, harass, and intimidate their ex in the name of passion and self-expression. To continue to laugh at this would be to trivialize such behavior which, if exhibited by a less famous man against a less famous ex, could turn out to have real, fateful consequences.
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And yet, West’s behavior goes unchecked — even excused as the behavior of someone who is mentally ill. Not only is this stigmatizing to people with mental illnesses, but it also perpetuates the notion that mental illness is a justification to behave in unscrupulous ways. West has since deleted all his social media posts and made a single statement about “better communication.”
But he continues to be fondly enabled by fans and non-fans alike, as an eccentric genius. “The fact that their behavior either boosted their talent, or helped them find their moral center, or led them to understand that they had messed up priorities, to begin with, don’t seem like good enough excuses… What about the people they traumatized along the way?” wrote Devrupa Rakshit for The Swaddle, last year, on the trope of the genius artist who is allowed to be a jerk.
Moreover, normalizing violence like this because it is directed against Kim Kardashian, a polarizing media figure, can inadvertently further the notion that some people “deserve” it or can “take it.” But this fosters unconditional solidarity against abusive behavior.
Even if “Kimye” were a “power couple” before, they’re currently embroiled in a conflict that involves their respective fans. Kanye West, for his part, has created an ecosystem in which fan-made memes are posted on his account to further make light of his harassment, portraying it as just a man in love trying to win his former wife back.
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“I’m working on my communication,” writes West in his now sole Instagram post. He doesn’t acknowledge his actions — trying to “get” his ex-wife back, harassing her partner — as problematic; merely regrets the use of all caps text and coming off aggressive.
But this doesn’t negate how he reportedly asked his fans to scream “Kimye forever” if they ever run into Pete Davidson, along with a host of threatening, petty actions like removing Kid Cudi from the Donda 2 album lineup because of his association with Davidson. Yet, this may just be another in a string of actions that fans and bemused spectators have excused because they’re from Kanye West. West paints himself as an icon, draws comparisons to Jesus, extolls his own greatness, and has called his bipolar disorder his “superpower” in a song.
What all the laughs miss is that not only does it excuse West’s actions as frivolous, it also stigmatizes mental illness and makes light of Kim Kardashian’s safety. It is reasonable to assume that she, personally, would be safe if things were to escalate. But the trouble lies in the narrative that ensures that not only does she have to potentially live in anxiety anyway; fans of West or general consumers of media may take West’s actions as an endorsement of similar behavior.