Kim Kardashian did not deserve to be robbed just because she learned the truth about being female and famous

The reality TV star built her career with the knowledge that being a women in the public eye means either you profit from your exposure, or someone else does

Sarah Ditum
Monday 03 October 2016 15:41
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Kim Kardashian robbed of jewellery worth millions of dollars in Paris

“Rich person suffers horrible mishap” is exactly the kind of story that brings a warm glow to the schadenfreude-prone. Even more satisfying is this: “Rich woman suffers horrible mishap”. And if the story happens to be about a rich woman with a talent for self-publicity, the glee flows in torrents. Which means that Kim Kardashian being tied up and robbed of several million euros worth of jewellery, at gunpoint, in a Parisian hotel has made a lot of people very happy.

It’s not that she deserves it… but actually, yes, they think she deserves it. There are those for whom Kardashian’s professional limelight-hunting, as well as the wealth she’s derived from it, put her in a special caste to which any ill-treatment is acceptable. There’s a particular pleasure, for them, in this specific ill-treatment. A woman whose trade is self-exposure, who has turned her private life into capital through her reality television series and her Instagram feed, has the supposed sanctum of a hotel room invaded.

The message is cruel and pointed: you thought you could reveal so much and no more, but you thought wrong. Whatever small boundaries you wanted to hang on to, someone will bust through and there’ll be a crowd of people to celebrate when they do.

It’s the same mentality that sees the assaults on celebrities committed by internet asshat Vitalii Sediuk portrayed as “pranks”. Targeting mostly women, he’s crept under America Ferrera’s dress, stripped himself almost naked and grabbed Ciara, and picked up Gigi Hadid – her defensive elbow jab at him was reported snickeringly by the Daily Mail as “not model behaviour”, as though her self-preservation was more of a problem than his attack.

His latest victim was Kardashian, who he grabbed outside a restaurant and tried to kiss her on the bottom, which I’m sure sounds very funny to anyone who enjoys the lighter side of women being sexually assaulted.

There will be people who counter that this is what celebrities sign up for when they seek fame; that attention is the economy and intrusion is, if not something to be tolerated, at least an occupational hazard to be gracefully dealt with.

But there is no opt-out. The novelist Italian Elena Ferrante has diligently maintained the most high-minded kind of anonymity, leaving her writings to speak for themselves, but to no avail: the efforts to expose her have been constant, because being a public woman means no one wanting to listen when you say no.

What’s really galling about the response to Kardashian is that her career is, in part, the manufacture of lemonade from the lemons of intrusion. She went from little-known to stratospheric in 2007, when a sex tape she’d made with an ex was leaked and released by a porn company.

Who can blame her for recognising a primary truth of being female and famous – that either you profit from your exposure, or someone else does – and trying to control it? Judging from the reactions to this robbery, a lot of people do.

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