On Monday night, Kim Kardashian West was alone in her Paris apartment when five armed men, dressed as police officers, robbed her at gunpoint.
The six minute ordeal, according to TMZ, unfolded like this: She tried to call her bodyguard, who was out guarding two of her sisters, but one of the men allegedly snatched the phone out of her hands before she could complete dialing. Her hands were zip-tied with plastic handcuffs and duct taped; her ankles were duct taped, too. She later told police that, in this moment, she feared she was about to be raped. The men carried her to her bathtub. She reportedly begged for her life. She told them where certain items of jewelry were located in the apartment, and then, as she pleaded and cried, the robbers duct taped her mouth shut. They made off with over $11 million in jewelry. Kardashian West’s bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, returned two minutes after the robbers departed. According to a spokesperson, Kardashian West was “badly shaken but physically unharmed.”
Kardashian West was the victim of this crime less than a week after she was assaulted by Vitalii Sediuk, a professional scumbag — he prefers the term “prankster,” because of course he does— who targets famous women for his invasive, physical attacks. (Last week, Sediuk grabbed model Gigi Hadid as she was walking to her car. He lifted her off the ground; she responded with a swift elbow to the jaw.)
How to best report on this harrowing series of events? Well, the first sentence of the New York Times story about the robbery is a description of the lavish Fashion Week reception and dinner Kardashian West attended earlier that evening, an event “at which truffled scrambled eggs, white fish and copious amounts of Champagne were served.” Kardashian West does not drink, so it’s not clear why it is relevant — not just relevant at all but get-it-in-that-lede relevant — that booze flowed aplenty at the party. There’s the argument that the line is just setting a scene to be shattered, like reminding everyone how blue the sky was the morning of 9/11, but to what end, really? The clearest implication is Kardashian West got bombed out of her mind, or at least a bit buzzed; the story does not ever mention the fact that Kardashian West abstains from alcohol.
Later on, the Times piece raises this: “Crucial details remained unclear on Monday, including why Ms. Kardashian West was alone and why she was carrying such valuable jewelry.”
Yes, why was Kardashian West — a grown woman — alone? Women must have chaperones at all times! Why was she carrying such valuable jewelry? Great question! Why would a phenomenally wealthy woman (estimated net worth: $150 million) have such expensive jewelry in her residence? Why would she be wearing this jewelry during Paris Fashion Week? Can’t imagine! Boggles the mind!
The Times is far from the only offender. The Hollywood Reporter found the Fashion Week crowd expressing both “sympathy” and “skepticism” in the wake of the robbery.
“Where did they get a gun? Sounds fake,” was the first reaction of one British journalist. She was quickly seconded by an American who thought “the whole thing sounds made up.”
Others had snark to spare about Kardashian West’s social media habits — “She should stop Instagramming pictures of herself in her hotel bathroom” — and PR tactics.
Even the well-intentioned reactions cast Kardashian West as someone worthy of basic human rights because she is a wife and mother. (Did you know: Armed robbery is only a true horror when the victim is a married mom? Single women without children actually don’t mind it. Nothing to lose but sadness and useless, cobweb-filled wombs!) The NRA chimed in with some very considerate tweets about how Kardashian West managed to be robbed at gunpoint even in a city with strict gun control laws: “Does anyone know if they passed a background check first?”
After his Chanel show, Karl Lagerfeld told reporters Kardashian West invited the robbery by flaunting her jewelry: “You cannot display your wealth and then be surprised that some people want to share it with you.” Is “share it with you” the hot new slang for “armed robbery”? And is Lagerfeld suggesting, then, that no one wear Chanel? Hard to reconcile “don’t display your wealth” with “buy this price-upon-request couture I literally just debuted at Fashion Week.”
Sometimes it feels like we are an era in which we are finally — finally! — understanding what it means to victim-blame. We are grasping that it is both cruel and idiotic to ask a woman who has been raped what she was wearing or drinking in the minutes before the assault; that it is abhorrent to blame women engaged in the totally legal practice of taking and keeping intimate photographs when those pictures are stolen and disseminated without their consent; that there is no such thing as “asking for it” when the “it” in question is a criminal act.
And yet Kardashian West challenges all of this, because apparently there are some whose intel is so dated they are still using “Kardashian” as convenient shorthand for “everything that is wrong with society,” a take about as hot as “isn’t Buzzfeed just a listicle of cat videos?” If you’re in need of a public figure to use as a stand-in for everything that’s wrong with society, well, you’re not exactly short on options right now.
Obviously, someone who is the victim of a crime should be regarded as such, not as a famewhore who got what was coming to her. But we still seem to harbor vicious, hideous ideas about women, especially those who are overtly, happily sexual. Kardashian West in particular taps into a deep, misogynistic strain. The underlying thinking is that she has devalued herself by becoming and remaining famous in a certain way; in doing so, she has granted the public permission to devalue her, too.
There are those who think that, because Kardashian West has made a living doing things that we claim to have disdain for but in fact value to the tune of many millions of dollars, she deserves… well, what, exactly? She deserves to be burglarized? She deserves to be bound and gagged in her own home? She deserves to fear for her life? She deserves to have duct tape over her mouth, to stare at the ceiling of her own bathroom and think: These men are going to rape me right now, and when I scream, no one will hear me?
If that logic sounds familiar, maybe that’s because it echoes a post on Sediuk’s Instagram. He claimed his attack of Kardashian West was a “protest” against her “for using fake butt implants. I encourage her and the rest of the Kardashian clan to popularize natural beauty among teenage girls who follow and defend them blindly.”
Sediuk targets female celebrities he has decided are doing the wrong things to get attention. And what is it that Sediuk hopes to attain from his efforts? He told the BBC: “I’m doing this for attention.”