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“Rob Kardashian’s social media rampage isn’t funny. It’s revenge porn”

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Ask A Feminist is our regular column tackling issues on sexism and womanhood in a real-life, 21st century context. Here, Moya Crockett argues that Rob Kardashian’s recent Instagram outburst should be viewed for what it is: online abuse.


I have spent much of the last 24 hours ruminating on Rob Kardashian. This is not normal behaviour for me: my interest in Kim, Kourtney and Khloé’s only brother could historically be described as passing-to-non-existent. And yet the youngest Kardashian sibling’s recent Instagram outburst was so appalling, so explosive, and so unprecedented, that I’ve found it difficult to think about much else.

On Wednesday evening UK time, Kardashian – a 30-year-old adult man – had what can only be described as a total social media meltdown, posting a shocking string of nude photos and videos to his Instagram feed. Every one featured Blac Chyna, his ex-fiancée and the mother of his child.

Kardashian claimed that Chyna had sent him the images after their split in December 2016, in an attempt to make him jealous. Now, he told his 9.9million followers, he was leaking them to show just how badly she had treated him.

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Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna in happier times.

In a lurid rant spread out over more than a dozen posts, Kardashian alleged that Chyna (real name Angela White) had been repeatedly unfaithful to him during their 11-month relationship. He said that she had had a baby with him “out of spite” to get back at her ex; that she left him after he paid around £77,100 ($100,000) for her to have plastic surgery; that she regularly took drugs and had sex with men while her and Kardashian’s eight-month-old daughter, Dream, was in the house. (In response, she accused him of domestic violence.) The photos he posted were so explicit, his account was eventually suspended.


Read more: How Facebook is trying to eradicate revenge porn


Inevitably, the internet blew up. Thousands upon thousands of people commented on his posts; ‘Rob Kardashian’ started trending on Twitter. The memes multiplied. The general mood seemed to be one of gleeful astonishment, mixed with a healthy dose of yeah-duh schadenfreude. Chyna’s former job was referenced repeatedly, apparently as evidence that Kardashian should have seen it coming.

“Dear Rob Kardashian,” read one typical tweet, which has been favourited 2,000 times. “You had a child with a stripper. What did you expect?”

That the world should perceive Kardashian’s meltdown as little more than juicy entertainment – as fair game – is not surprising. The Kardashian-Jenner clan has relentlessly offered every aspect of their lives up for public consumption for almost ten years, from Kim’s gunpoint robbery in Paris to Caitlyn Jenner’s transition.

And sex is irrevocably tangled up in the family’s brand: Kim became famous after appearing in a pornographic home video, Khloé’s ex-husband collapsed in a Nevada brothel, while Kylie Jenner dated Chyna’s much older ex-partner before she turned 18. For many, Kardashian’s tweets are nothing more than the latest real-time instalment in a garbage reality show they’ve been watching since 2007.


Read more: Victims of revenge porn reveal what happened when their naked photos were leaked


Neither is it shocking just how little compassion there was for Chyna, a woman who has – let’s remind ourselves – just experienced what would be many people’s worst nightmare. (Just imagine, for a second, how you would feel if the father of your child shared photos of your vagina, along with your personal phone number, with millions of people.) The world is not generally sympathetic to black, defiantly sexual former strippers who unabashedly pursue famous men, even before they are publicly accused of the unholy trinity of infidelity, drug-taking and being bad mothers.

Indeed, it’s questionable whether Chyna even wants our sympathy: reports suggest that she silently ‘liked’ some of Kardashian’s raging Instagram posts before his account was deleted.

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Rob Kardashian with sister Kim (centre) and ex-fiancée Blac Chyna in April 2016.

But whatever you think of Kardashian and whatever you think of Blac Chyna, his meltdown was not OK. You can think that his family are trash, and that he is a fool who made his own bed. You can believe that she is a terrible, evil, manipulative witch with a black hole where her soul should be. But strip away the fame and the followers, and what we are left with is a very simple story: one of a man who feels rejected by a woman, and who decides to get his own back by posting photos of her naked body online.


Read more: Mischa Barton on revenge porn: “People should always have the right to protect themselves”


This is revenge porn, and it is illegal. It’s illegal in the UK, where publishing private sexual photographs or films without consent and with the intent to cause distress carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment. It’s illegal in the state of California, where Kardashian and Chyna live. It is not funny. It is online abuse, and it is abuse whether you care about the people involved or not.

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Another revenge porn victim: Mischa Barton recently took her ex-boyfriend to court after he tried to sell explicit tapes of her.

When we laugh at Rob Kardashian’s tantrum, we muddy the waters of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour. When we paint him as a hapless sap who got taken for a ride by a Machiavellian harpy, we perpetuate the narrative that revenge porn’s real victims are sometimes its perpetrators.

When we say, “Don’t send nudes unless you want them leaked”, we suggest that there’s such a thing as asking for it. When we joke, “Well, what did you expect? She’s a stripper”, we imply that only some women – nice women, respectable women, likeable women – are worthy of protection.

That kind of thinking is dangerous. If we don’t challenge it, we preserve a culture where women who have been sexually assaulted don’t feel able to come forward unless they look, sound or act like a ‘perfect’ victim; where alleged rape survivors are quizzed on their sexual history in court; where working-class teenage girls in Rochdale are dismissed as child prostitutes, rather than abuse victims.

Rob Kardashian’s actions shouldn’t be taken lightly – and according to Chyna’s lawyers, they won’t be. In a statement to ABC News, her attorney said: “We are considering all legal options and recourses at this time.”

A court battle where a rich, famous and abusive man gets his comeuppance? Now that’s something we would like to see.

Images: Rex Features

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