Keeping up with the Kardashian: Rob, revenge porn and responsibility.

Love them or loathe them, the Kardashian’s are omnipresent and you’d do well to start paying attention to them. Truly a modern day Austen story, they serve as a microcosm for issues in society as a whole – the most recent being one of revenge porn.

On July 5th, Rob Kardashian unleashed a tirade of abuse towards the mother of his child, Blac Chyna, through various social media channels. He questioned her integrity, sobriety, posted explicit imagery of her without her consent and revealed highly sensitive information surrounding her medical history. Chyna has subsequently been granted a restraining order against Kardashian, and is looking to take him to court. The public fallout out over this has been phenomenal, and recurring narratives have made a few inconvenient truths impossible to ignore. Issues such as men’s entitlement and perceived ownership over women’s bodies, slut shaming, the inequality of the value placed on a black women’s body over that of a white, the uphill struggle of recognising sex crimes perpetrated against sex workers, have all come sharply into focus. There are so many factors at play in this one instance, and so many that need addressing, but one that is particularly troubling which has presented itself repeatedly is the absolute inability for a man to take any responsibility or be held accountable for his actions.

Throughout this saga an ongoing narative has emerged, that Kardashian ‘knew what he was getting into’. Chyna was ‘trouble’ and he should’ve been smarter. Truly, the only thing he has really been pulled up on, or has apologised for, is becoming involved with Chyna in the first place. He supposedly acknowledged that he ‘ignored advice’ from the Kardashian women that Chyna was ‘bad news’ and has ‘told them they were right’.

This goes beyond victim blaming, and actually absolves Kardashian of all responsibility for his actions during and following his relationship with Chyna. To put this in context, the petty crime equivalent of this argument is having your bag snatched and being told you shouldn’t have had the bag in the first place instead of punishing the thief.

This is a narative routinely used to punish women, particularly women seen to be disruptive of a patriarchal norm, which is why this argument has even been extended to the Kardashian sisters. Professional troll and ‘secretly wishes she was a Kardashian’ Wendy Williams proceeded to blame the Kardashian women for not ‘protecting’ Rob.

“What is the point in having a bunch of sisters, Rob, if not one of them broads could tell you? Not one of those girls could tell their brother about a thot.”

This is not to say that the Kardashian women are totally faultless in this drama. Having built an empire on en vogue notions of ‘female empowerment’ and often speaking out about slut shaming when it is to their benefit, their silence in this matter has been deafening. However, the realisation that the Kardashians have been peddling ‘Femsumerism’ (thanks to The High Low for coining the phrase) is still not enough to justify handing Rob a carte blanche.

Rob Kardashian is a 30 year old man, his youngest sister is 19, still she is expected to take the lion’s share of culpability. The disproportionate expectations placed on women over men is present in everyday situations, something like the ‘mental load’ brilliantly illustrates the sometimes invisible amount of work we expect of women that men are conditioned to ignore. When this mentality is applied to more serious issues such as domestic abuse or sexual violence we begin to see just how threatening it is.

Rob Kardashian is entirely to blame for his own behaviour, this should not be up for debate. He very deliberately attempted to humiliate and mark his property by posting what he did – and it is deliberate, after being kicked off of Instagram he proceeded to not only post everything again on Twitter, but told his followers to ‘peep’ him there, proving this was a calculated and malicious attack and not a fit of passion . He has yet to show any remorse for what he has done, instead apologising to his family for not ‘dealing with it privately’. By refusing to hold men accountable for their actions we continue to perpetuate toxic and dangerous beliefs that put women’s rights and safety at risk. You might find the Kardashian brand hollow and frivolous, but they are also the mirror that reflects society back to itself. If you don’t like what you see perhaps it is time to take responsibility.

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