The Private Life of Kim Kardashian

Words: Brodie Lancaster

With all the hoopla and listicles outlining the so-called wackiness her baby daddy spouted in his New York Times interview last week, comparatively little has been made of Kim Kardashian’s own public outpouring (and we’re not talking about her birthing fluids – Mazel Tov!).

A week before Kim gave birth to her and Kanye West’s child – almost a month earlier than scheduled (you’re welcome, gossip rags!) – she tweeted a series of distressing tales of paparazzi subterfuge, claiming when she denied them pictures of her, “they threatened my life & said if I continue to block shots then they will make my world dangerous to live in! How dare they threaten my life & my unborn child! This has gotten way out of control!”

“For years I've always been so gracious,” she continued, “Let me enjoy this last month of pregnancy please without threats & being scared to leave my home due to what dangerous thing they just threatened to do to me.”

What is clearly a cry for safety and privacy, though, will surely fall on deaf ears. If the paparazzi were willing to barricade Kim inside her car to get a shot of her at her most embargoed, it’s frightening to wonder what lengths they’ll go to snap a picture of the holy vessel with daughter of Yeezus.

There is a sense of feigned surprise each time Kim denies the public access to her personal life. She did, after all, make a sex tape, pose for Playboy and broadcast her wedding to millions of strangers. What falls by the wayside during these discussions, though, is the pure and simple fact that she is well within her rights to set boundaries. Expecting Kim to passively and graciously accept every request – or threat – that comes her way because of the ways she’s chosen to present her life to the public in the past is akin to expecting a woman who hires a professional photographer to capture her wedding to be as obliging to a creep taking upskirts of her at the park or on a train. Existing as a woman in public spaces is difficult and dangerous enough for non-celebrities, and the issue of consent is one that permeates tabloid culture.

I am, admittedly, approaching this subject from an immediately defensive place. I’ve watched all seven season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians – and their myriad spinoffs about “taking” US cities outside of Calabasas – and have actively followed the fairytale story of Kim and Kanye over the last 18 months. But I was also living in New York when Kim wed Kris Humphries and, less than three months later, filed for divorce (never mind the fact that they’ve remained legally wed until earlier this month, when Kris finally settled). I watched as the entire world proceeded to slut-shame a woman who married a man and, upon realizing the marriage was not working – something no viewers of Kourtney and Kim Take New York Season 2 could dispute – call an end to it. What would you expect, they cried, from someone made famous on the back of a sex tape? In a heartbeat, the phrase “72 days” became short-hand for poor decision-making.

Even the most sex-positive feminists are quick to dismiss Kim for the way in which she rose to public consciousness. It brings to mind the flawed and damaging Tina Fey version of feminism, in which only some women – those who are educated, driven, undamaged, well-spoken and tattoo-less – are deserving of our support. Let your boyfriend film you having sex in your early twenties and have the results distributed against your wishes five years later? Sorry, you don’t fit the requirements to join our club and you’ll soon get what’s coming to you.

The fact that she posted selfies to Instagram following her demand for respite from paparazzi was all the gossip rags needed to deem her point moot. This situations falls into the larger issue of Kim’s control of her image. Sure, she allows a camera crew to film her life and that of her family; sure, she broadcast her second wedding on TV for millions to see; sure, she is active on social media and takes pictures of herself constantly. But she’s in control of those images. The fact that Kim takes iPhone snaps of herself and appears in photoshoots for brands and magazines does not negate her need for privacy. These acts are not comparable to those committed by paparazzi. She is rarely seen without make-up and opulent outfits on camera, because her image is her livelihood. When that is threatened, she is allowed to be angry.

“I get I live a public life,” Kim tweeted. “I live my life on a reality show for the world to see. I love my life, but when the cameras stop, that doesn't mean I don't want a break too.”

And at the end of the day – particularly the day she became a mother – she is entitled to privacy. The breadth and longevity of the Kardashian empire means that it is without comparison and the rules are being written as their fame continues to grow. We deride the cult of reality stars for cashing in on short-lived attention, but seasons of a network-rescuing show and billions of dollars in sponsorship and endorsement are hard to scoff at. The public is still learning what to make of it all.

Kim’s pregnancy has played out – just like most aspects of her personal life – on the covers of magazines purely for the pleasure we get from seeing the beautiful and successful falter. We want to see them damaged. We hate when people are perfect and we love to kick them when they're down. We derive pleasure when we see the woman with the perfect, unattainable body expanding in front of our eyes like a sexy Augustus Gloop, and we want to sit back and count the days her partner is not by her side, spouting “I told you so”, patting ourselves on the back for knowing the girl with a slew of famous break-ups and make-ups can’t hold down Life's Most Important Thing: A Man.  

Just because Kim is representative of tabloid culture, doesn’t mean that she’s neither responsible for - nor safe from - it.

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6 comments so far..

  • ScarlettHarris's avatar
    Commenter
    ScarlettHarris
    Date and time
    Monday 17 Jun 2013 - 10:33 AM
    Tattoo-less? Lena Dunham must be the exception to that rule.
    More to the point, amidst yesterday's announcement of baby Yeezus, I saw a Facebook friend's (thought not really a RL friend) status hoping the child got none of its father's facial features (racist, much?!). Further to that, the comments following wished that Kim's daughter didn't get her propensity for sluttyness. I believe the direct quote was: "Or her mother's vagina she lets so many men into."
    I don't really want to say KK's NOT a slut because that's buying into the notion that after a certain amount of lovers there IS such a thing as a slut (see Alyx's slut-metre post from last week http://thevine.com.au/life/thoughts/the-slut-threshold/), but throughout Kim's career as a celebutant, I only ever recall her being in serious relationships: her first marriage, the ill-fated Ray-J hook-up, Reggie Bush, Kris Humphries, some other sports star, Kanye... She's 32, FFS; that's hardly a lot of paramours.
    I can see why people would hate the IDEA of the Kardashian's - they're utter fame-whores arguably responsible for the celeb-obsessed culture we live in - but Kim's mostly harmless. In fact, she's kind of bland when it comes down to it, so I think people use her provocative dress sense, failed relationships and dramatised life to justify their pointless vitriol against her.
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  • ataloss's avatar
    Commenter
    ataloss
    Date and time
    Monday 17 Jun 2013 - 3:33 PM
    I call shenanigans! Although no one ever EVER deserves to have people threaten them, Kim has built an empire on not just sex tapes, reality shows, a fancy wedding/divorce and managing to find another man who's name starts with a K - prior to getting pregnant and suffering the unflattering side effects of gaining baby weight -she has been calling the paparazzi on herself for YEARS. Not MTV, not selling a wedding - calling paps to take pics of her shopping, lunching and whatever else she gets up to and THIS is why the paps are mad - she's been using them for her gain for years and now she doesn't want to play the game anymore... of course her safety comes first, but its not like this is an uninvited part of fame - this is how she became famous in the first place. Kim should not be slut shamed for her eons old sex tape -but she's not a victim of horrible bullying paparazzi here - she's had a 'back scratching' deal with these guys right up until the unflattering photos they started to sell took their toll on her image... Hopefully now that baby K has come along Kim will actually start to want to respect her own privacy and stop the shenanigans...
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  • TL's avatar
    Commenter
    TL
    Date and time
    Monday 17 Jun 2013 - 4:02 PM
    I agree with you! I think she does have a right to privacy when she asks for some space. I also think that what she does as a single woman is different to what she should do as a mother;. It is completely understandable that she would want to protect her baby starting now by shielding herself from paparazzi stress - it can't be good for her unborn child to be subjected to constant anxiety from stalkers which is basically what the paparazzi are.

    What kind of vultures have we become that we think its now perfectly okay to hound a pregnant woman?
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  • TheTruth's avatar
    Commenter
    TheTruth
    Date and time
    Monday 17 Jun 2013 - 8:41 PM
    So the free film crew (the paps) she's relied on to turn the family into a walking product promotion vehicle, now demand their price? When you make a pact with devil, there is always a catch.

    However, I do find myself conflicted on this - the thought of never hearing or seeing a Karda$hian again is very appealing, but it is quite amusing to watch them get consumed by the monster they created.
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  • Square girl in a round world's avatar
    Commenter
    Square girl in a round world
    Date and time
    Wednesday 19 Jun 2013 - 1:01 AM
    Kim Kardashian is an absolute mess. That's all I have to say on that matter.

    If she's so worried about keeping her life private, she shouldn't have relied upon and manipulated the media and the public to fuel her very existence.

    Perhaps Kanye can buy her the very best tank at sea world so that she can frolic safely in her enclosure in preparation for the upcoming pregnancy.
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  • chili's avatar
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    chili
    Date and time
    Friday 18 Oct 2013 - 3:09 PM
    yep, yep, I was with you, sort of, until you got to the fairytale story of Kim and Kanye. If, by that, you meant unbelievable, ok, I can sort of see your point but anything else? What sort of generic tabloid crap are you writing?
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