Stop Chastising Kim Kardashian For Taking Ownership of Her Robbery
Keeping Up with the Kardashians is back with its thirteenth season.In this week’s episode of the reality TV series, Kim Kardashian publicly comments on her robbery for the first time. She delves deep into her experience of being held hostage in Paris on October 3rd, 2016. She reminds us that she was tied up and gagged in her hotel room as armed burglars stole $11 million worth of her jewellery. She describes how she felt during the incident and the impact that it had/continues to have on her today. The episode is harrowing. It has also been used as the main promo for the new season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Much of the response preceding the episode has been negative.
Some think that the robbery was/is a publicity stunt.
As if Kim conspired with the French police to create a reality TV subplot.
Others believe that she deserved it for flaunting her wealth and fame.
As if posting photos of your possessions entitles people to rob you.
Certain people used it as an opportunity to remind us that there is more important news.
As if it is impossible to feel compassion for both Kim and those who suffer in different ways.
Perhaps worst of all, people shamed Kim for profiting from her trauma.
As if she isn't entitled to do whatever she likes with it.
This has got to stop. Kim is not an actress. Anyone who has seen ‘Disaster Movie’ can tell you that. But much more than that Kim, like most women, is not trusted. Her words, her actions and her experiences are questioned and denied the respect that they deserve. Her humanity is ignored. To make things worse, she works in reality TV, so anything dramatic that occurs in her life is lazily written off as ‘scripted’. Fans of Keeping Up with the Kardashians know that the show is great at using real life events as storylines (Caitlyn’s transition, Kourtney and Scott’s split, Kylie’s use of lip fillers) in and amongst the fun and drama of Kardashian life. It also treats the majority of these matters with care and, perhaps most importantly, allows its stars/producers (Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Kris are all executive producers of the show) to discuss their experiences on their own terms.
In 2013 Yael Farber debuted ‘Nirbhaya’ at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play tells the story of a real-life woman who was gang raped on a bus in Delhi on December 16th, 2016. It also features the testimonies of five women stating their real life experiences of rape, sexual assault and abuse. The play received countless awards and acclaim and was an important reminder that there is power in taking control of your narrative, that owning your trauma can not only be cathartic but also an opportunity to educate others and shatter the stigma that surrounds victims of violence.
Last night Kim reclaimed her own narrative. After months of silence she reminded the world that this robbery was her experience, no-one else’s. After the robbery took place Kim stopped using social media for the rest of 2016. No doubt she was taking time off to recover from the incident. However, ever the mogul that she is (this is the woman who ‘made $45 million from one game’), Kim then must have reflected upon the affair and worked out how best to use it to her advantage. She turned her social media break into an event. Her returning photo to Instagram on January 3rd, 2017, is one of the most liked Instagram photos of the year - topped only by Selena Gomez and Beyoncé. And then she made the robbery a focal topic of her own TV show. This is not exploitative. This is not fake news. This is a woman, to misquote Rihanna, covering her shit in glitter and making it gold. Just as Kim did in 2007, when someone leaked a sex tape of her and her ex Ray J and she used the fame that came with it to become one of the most successful people in the world.
Kim, like all celebrities, is problematic to varying degrees - yes - but her owning and profiting from her trauma is not a problem. It is a reminder that some trauma can be overcome. It is a reminder that Kim is a total boss. And it is a reminder that - whilst many of her critics lose sleep projecting their own insecurities and prejudices onto her - Kimberley Noel Kardashian-West is winning.
Not bad for a girl with no talent.
Words: Sam Prance