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Kanye West’s obsession with his daughters points to a darker truth

There’s a reason why men never act this way with their sons

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 16 March 2022 16:51 GMT
Pete Davidson likeness meets violent end in Kanye West's latest music video
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The divorce proceedings between Kanye West and Kim Kardashian made headway earlier this month when Kardashian was officially declared legally single by a Los Angeles county judge. When the reality television star filed for divorce in February 2021, she unwittingly prompted a barrage of public social media posts from West that immediately went viral. Such posts — aimed at Kardashian and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson, or concerning his ongoing custody battles for his children — have since become a strange new norm.

In recent weeks, West — now known as Ye — has pivoted his frustration away (somewhat) from Davidson to his disapproval over eight-year-old daughter North’s TikTok account. Ye has expressed his gripes with the social media app in the past, claiming his ex-wife was letting North “wear makeup” on TikTok in order to “antagonize” him. Now, he’s taken issue with a recent video posted by North and her mom to the song “Emo Girl” by Machine Gun Kelly, where the two are seen lip-synching in black eyeliner and lipstick. And he’s shared some antiquated views about parenting along with it.

The rapper spoke out against the TikTok video on Instagram this past Sunday, and shared a text message he received from rapper The Game in a subsequent post. “They’re trying to use North against you,” the text began. “They know that’s your only trigger. They aren’t using the other kids because they aren’t old enough and are pretty much babies. Saint on TikTok wouldn’t trigger you as much because he’s your son and our boys have US in them”.

The text continued, “​​North and Chi pull on your heart strings the most because they are delicate children. They’re girls and we our protectors [sic] due to our knowledge of women being abused in this world”.

We all know the overprotective dad trope: the domineering father who goes to extreme lengths to protect their delicate daughters from boys, and from the inevitable process of growing up. Think Steve Martin in Father of the Bride, Liam Neeson in Taken, or the OB-GYN father from 10 Things I Hate About You who is paranoid that his teenage daughters will become pregnant. The trope has been around for so long that it’s even commodified into popular bumper stickers and T-shirts that read “D.A.D.D: Dads Against Daughters Dating”. Some such merchandise includes images of crossed guns and the alarming addition: “Shoot the first one and word will spread”.

The overbearing father is often seen as a positive role model for his daughter, because he’s acting out of love and care to ensure her safety. But there’s a reason why the same dynamic doesn’t exist for fathers and their sons.

When Ye implied that he feels an overwhelming urge to protect his daughters North and Chicago simply because they are girls, he reinforced the narrative that men are here to be saviors for women. There’s no denying that women experience sexism and gender-based violence at alarming rates, but no amount of men locking them away will prevent that from being true. Rather than putting the onus on fathers and sons to be educated on the dangers of toxic masculinity, the idea that men should “protect” women reduces them into vulnerable beings with a lack of agency. While the sentiment may be well-intended, it simply replaces one injustice with more sexist messaging. The solution can’t be that women’s freedoms are curtailed by “some good men” to protect them from a supposedly inevitable society where all the bad men will defile them at any chance they get.

The idea that women and girls have no agency is familiar to West. In his single released last February, West claimed that Pete Davidson should “thank” him for being allowed to date Kim Kardashian. “And if I let ‘em have my wife, n****s should thank me/With this Balenciaga and Balenci’ boots and a new blue Yankee,” he raps in the song “City of Gods” alongside Alicia Keys and Fivio Foreign.

This isn’t the only time the rapper has been accused of objectifying the women in his life, either. West’s ex-girlfriend Amber Rose claimed the rapper had “bullied her for ten years” after their 2010 breakup. And in 2019, Ye tried to stop Kardashian from wearing her “camp” corset dress to the Met Gala during an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, saying that his wife “showing off her body” affected his “spirit” and “soul”.

“You are my wife, and it affects me when pictures are too sexy,” he said.

The behavior that overprotective fathers exhibit is not because they trust their daughters to make her own decisions about her body, or because they care so much for their welfare that they simply can’t stop themselves. Instead, it is a twisted idea of purity and a lack of agency that powers such behavior. After all, what’s the big deal with girls “staying pure” or looking too “sexy”? When our young boys dress up in suits or play around with filters, we don’t say they seem “too grown” — as Ye did when posting a picture of four-year-old Chicago to Instagram — with the implication that adults might prey on them. When our teens venture out into the world of dating, we don’t assume young men have “lost their purity” if they become sexually active with their girlfriends.

West’s intention clearly isn’t just to take on the role of overprotective father; it’s to assert control over a part of his life that feels like it’s slipping away. And if he can’t bring himself to see women and girls differently after all this time, he won’t do his relationship with his two daughters any good at all.

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