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  1. Culture
25 October 2016

Why do we refuse to accept that a Kardashian could also be a victim?

Something is wrong when violent and intrusive crimes are seen as quirks of a life lived in the public sphere.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

By now, we’re used to the regular appearance of the Kardashians in the news cycle. This morning, two new stories have made headlines. First, Kim Kardashian West dropped a lawsuit against a publication that claimed she faked her own armed robbery, after the website published a retraction. Second, a man was cleared of stalking her younger sister Kendall Jenner outside her home (instead, he was convicted of trespassing and could face up to six months in jail).

Both these incidents – Kardashian West’s robbery and Jenner’s discovery of a stranger at her home – are intensely traumatic experiences, the kind that can leave victims with lifelong post-traumatic stress disorder.

When testifying against the accused, Jenner told the court, “I’ve never been so scared in my life.” Kardashian West, usually happy to share her emotions with her fans, has receded into silence – she has posted nothing on her social media channels, and has said nothing to the public since the robbery on 3 October.

But, institutionally, these incidents haven’t been treated as such. Instead, they’ve been seen as quirks of a life lived in the public sphere. Why?

One strand of public opinion has been quick to blame the Kardashians themselves for such incidents. The family have been accused of sharing too much of their lives, flaunting their wealth, revealing too many details of their whereabouts, and showcasing their extravagant possessions.

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THANK YOU

The tenants of modern fame are seen as the root cause of the actions of other irresponsible and/or malicious individuals. Put simply, the public, the media and the law are still struggling to understand fame in the 21st century, and how to respond to it.

As some of the biggest celebrities in the world, the Kardashians have been dehumanised – we’ve seen their pixelated faces so many times that it’s hard to envisage the vulnerable human behind it. Sadly, life for many people cannot be free of violation and humiliation – particularly those less financially and socially privileged than the Kardashians. But Kim and Kendall are real, breathing people. They still deserve protection.

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