Whatever happens with Kanye and Kim, his behavior should not be normalized | Arwa Mahdawi
Harassment is abuse, not love
Generally, I don’t know about the Kardashians. And I try to pay as little attention as possible to the erratic antics of Kim Kardashian’s ex Kanye West (who recently changed her name to Ye). But over the past two weeks, I’ve made some sort of exception to my “avoid losing brain cells by exposing yourself to Kimye’s drama at all costs” rule, as Ye’s public behavior has become more more disturbing. However, what’s even more disturbing is how his behavior towards Kardashian is largely treated as entertaining gossip by the media instead of being labeled as harassment. While a handful of (mostly female-focused) outlets, including She and Jezebelhave raised alarm bells over the way Ye acts, his behavior is still dangerously understated.
A little background for anyone who hasn’t been following the saga: Kardashian and Ye, who have four children, are ending their nearly seven-year marriage. The divorce procedure, initiated last February, was not discreet: it is not a question of a “conscious decoupling” à la Gwyneth Paltrow. Things got even more acrimonious when Kardashian started dating comedian Pete Davidson late last year: Ye began to oscillate between over-the-top displays of affection towards Kim and outbursts of anger. A small sample of his recent behavior includes:
Publicly accusing Kardashian of kidnapping their daughter Chicago after she threw her a birthday party and allegedly refused to tell her the address. He also showed up at the birthday party when he reportedly agreed to host a separate event for Chicago.
A bizarre number of media outlets have called what’s going on between Kardashian and Ye “war of words”. But this implies that there is a kind of equivalence between their behaviors. There are not any. Ye harasses Kardashian and she asks him to stop. Earlier this month, she released a statement decrying his constant attacks on her in interviews and on social media. “Divorce is hard enough for our children and Kanye’s obsession with trying to control and manipulate our situation in such a negative and public way only causes more pain for everyone.”
Obviously, I don’t have all the facts when it comes to Kardashian and Ye’s relationship. However, what happens in public seems sadly familiar: a man refuses to take no for an answer and it’s treated as a silly show instead of serious harassment. Here is the problem: decades Hollywood movies and popular culture have taught us that it is romantic for a man to aggressively pursue a woman who has rejected his advances. We have been taught that a man giving a woman unwanted gifts is a cute gesture, not a manipulative one. love bombardment. Men relentlessly pursuing women is such a common theme of romantic comedies that the TV Tropes website, which tracks frequently used narrative devices, has an entry for it called “bullying is love”. (Of course, it’s only love when a man does it. If a woman calls out her ex, she’s immediately labeled “crazy.”) In a 2016 article about Hollywood’s portrayal of the “persistent pursuit researcher Julia Lippman found: Unsurprisingly, this exposure to this trope normalizes behavior. “[T]Romantic pursuit behaviors commonly portrayed in the media as part of normative courtship can lead to an increase in supportive beliefs about harassment,” Lippman says.
Again, I have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes with Kardashian and Ye. But what happens in public should not be considered entertainment; Ye’s online harassment should not be dismissed as harmless. Their divorce may be a private matter between the two of them, but further normalizing the idea that persistent pursuit is romantic is harmful for everyone.
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