I don’t keep up with the Kardashians. But millions of people around the world do. Whether you like it or not, what the Kardashians say and do leaves an imprint on our society, and shapes our cultural consciousness.
On Wednesday, July 5, Rob Kardashian posted a series of extremely disturbing photos on his personal Instagram page. He posted naked photos of his ex-girlfriend, Blac Chyna, and accused her of cheating on him. It took Instagram 20 minutes to take down the explicit photos. By that time, it was too late. The whole world had seen.
To be clear, this is not an example of “showing receipts.” If Rob had really wanted to “show receipts” proving that Blac Chyna was cheating on him, he simply would have leaked screenshots of her infidelity. In the Internet era, this is the preferred method of exposing someone who has wronged you. This is what Kim Kardashian did to Taylor Swift to prove that she was lying about her conversation with Kanye West, and this is what Tizita Balemly did to Kylie Jenner to prove that Jenner was stealing the indie artist’s fashion designs.
But Rob didn’t leak screenshots proving that Blac Chyna was involved with other men while they were dating. Instead, he leaked her naked photos all over the Internet. He posted a photo of her bare breasts, with a caption explaining that he “paid 100K” for her surgery and “they really messed up on her nipples” and “now they so damn big.” He posted a photo of her bare buttocks, with a caption about how “she had her butt reduced but I know it still looks wild” and about how she “let me cum inside u.” He posted a photo of her genitals, with a caption about how he “just bought her 250K of jewelry yesterday.”
This is not “showing receipts.” This is revenge porn. This is slut shaming. This is body shaming. This is a repulsive and cowardly act of misogynistic violence. This is a pathetic attempt by Rob Kardashian to perform masculinity and express ownership over his ex-girlfriend’s body, and this is a crime.
I don’t care what she did. I don’t care that she cheated on him—which, by the way, is likely not true. By many accounts, including the official statement issued by Chyna’s attorney Lisa Bloom, they were not even dating when she allegedly slept with those men. Chyna had ended her relationship with Kardashian months before. Rob Kardashian, however, has a history of accusing his ex-girlfriends (such as Rita Ora) of cheating on him, and slut-shaming them on social media—even though they weren’t even dating when Rita Ora allegedly slept with “20 dudes.”
And even if it is true that Blac Chyna cheated on him, Rob Kardashian certainly shouldn’t be one to assume the moral high ground, when he admitted on live television that he cheated on then-girlfriend Adrienne Bailon. Bailon not only somehow refrained from leaking naked photos of Rob to the entire world, but even forgave him for his infidelity.
Blac Chyna did not deserve this. And yet, many people seem to think that she did. Even some feminists seem to believe that she deserved it. Commenters on the Facebook page “Brock Turner for Prison,” many of whom are self-proclaimed feminists who had previously rallied in support of the white college-educated woman raped by Brock Turner, were now demonizing the black ex-stripper, posting comments like, “she a raggedy whore,” “she throws her cooter all over the place,” and “she deserved this.” They defended Rob Kardashian, explaining that “this man was pushed to this breaking point” and besides, “don’t send people your nudes if you don’t want them leaked.”
It doesn’t take a genius to see that misogynoir and sex-worker exclusive radical feminism is responsible for this disgusting double standard. Apparently, black women and sex workers, women who do not fit society’s rigid ideals of a “respectable woman,” are not worthy of our sympathy, our respect, and our protection.
In the wake of the Brock Turner incident, I really thought that society was reaching a turning point. I really thought that people were finally beginning to understand the importance of consent, and the prevalence of rape culture, and the insidiousness of male entitlement over women’s bodies.
But I was wrong. Society only cares about violence against women when it affects certain types of women. When it comes to violence against black women and sex workers such as Blac Chyna, we fall back onto tired old tropes of slut shaming and victim blaming.
And I’m exasperated. When does it stop? When do we stop making excuses for men’s vile behavior? When do we stop engaging in mental gymnastics to find some reason, any reason, to explain that the violence that men inflict on women is not only rational, but also completely justified?
Society will bend over backwards to forgive men for the violent crimes they commit against women—especially women of color, transgender women, sex workers, women whose intersecting identities render them invisible and their lives worthless in the eyes of society.
So what am I saying here? There’s not much left to say. Rob Kardashian is trash. And if you support him, if you believe that Blac Chyna deserved what she got, then guess what? You’re trash, too.
Nian Hu ’18, a former Crimson editorial editor, is a Government concentrator in Mather House. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays.