Rambles, Thinkpiece

WHAT IS MY VOICE?

In a lot of ways, I’m so similar to Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Like her, I have red hair, blue eyes and a tail. My first crush was Prince Eric (hasn’t changed), and I love lounging on rocks. And like Ariel, sis, I don’t really have a voice right now!

Not literally: I’ve got a voice that has been described as “melodious” and/or “gay,” and it’s served me well. I’m talking about my writing voice. It’s a large part of why I’ve been so lax about posting. Ever since graduating, I’ve feel well and truly lost as to what my post-grad voice sounds like.

In college, I operated under a near-blind and almost entirely undue amount of confidence. Really, looking back, it’s astounding that I didn’t get hit by a car or fall into a river. I was so cocky, you guys. So cocky.

I wrote with the vigor of someone who had not yet felt the sting of a thousand-thousand job rejections and who has not had to answer the question, “So…what are you doing?” with pained laughter until eyes are averted and the question is glossed over.

In college, I assumed – without any proof – that my voice was winsome and inviting, a tone that would remain immortal. And while I will remain immortal – I’ve been pretty much guaranteed that – I don’t think I took into account that people, and their ensuing tones and beliefs, change and adapt.

And even nearly a year later – gulp – I’m realizing that I didn’t allow myself the space to grow, or the gentleness that growing and changing, and being lost, is okay.

There are a lot of reasons why my tone has changed. First, it would be naïve and impossible to ignore the fact that I advertise this blog on my resume, and potential employers would stumble upon it regardless if they Google my name. Well, they’ll have to go through a few search pages (there’s other Danny McCarthy’s but none are as hot as me, thank god) but eventually they’ll get there. So with that is the pressure of Am I writing in the right way and Is this the right thing to say and What will people think. That didn’t factor into my writing in college because, you know, delusion.

Second, is that I’ve been living my life and that’s changed how I think about things. It’s impossible not to evolve (ask any Pokémon, sis!), and it’s been a challenge to channel everything that’s happening into a cohesive, passionate tone. Ambivalence doesn’t sell, and I’ve felt dangerously close to ambivalent about a lot of things lately.

And third, my tone has changed because I’ve been kinda going through it. Graduating and job-searching and graduate school applications have shaken my confidence in a major way. Before I graduated, I was a Boston 8 with the confidence of a telemarketer, and now I’m a New York 6 with the confidence of the first baker eliminated on Great British Bake Off.

In a lot of ways, I’m navigating the unknown, and the unknown makes it difficult to suss out what to share and what to keep private. Things have bigger stakes now; it’s just not wondering if I’ve pissed off someone by blowing up their spot or weirding someone out by waxing poetic about the way their voice leans. I’m selling the brand of me, and honey people are not buying it – not even the free trial!

But I’d like to get back to that place. Not the cosseted, unaware spot, but the place where I am so brimming with a desire to write that other people’s perceptions of it are a distinct second thought. I’d like to feel more steady in my writing, if just for the fact that writing is how I process everything that happens in my life. It’s quite literally my lifeline and my method for understanding everything.

And I lied – I’m a New York 7.

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Essay, LGBTQ, Life, Love & Romance, Millennials, Movies, Thinkpiece

CALL ME BY YOUR SAME

I watched Call Me By Your Name on a flight back from Amsterdam recently (brag!). And whether it was the combination of airplane red wine and altitude, or perhaps a human, beating heart, I was so deeply affected by the viewing that I’ve floated in a fog the last few days, one that I’ve characterized as a “gay funk.”

A gay funk is a peculiar and particular kind of funk for me – and trust, I’ve got plenty of funk genres. It comes from a place of mixed happiness and sadness – the font of queerdom, the well of homosexuality.

I’m not going to get into it here – for a multitude of reasons, including that you are not paying me, sis, and also I doubt my psychiatrist would recommend that I do it – but I’ve spent the last few months coming to terms with the fact that a lot of my high school experience was fucked-up, and painful, and distinctly not okay. It’s hard in a lot of ways, to recharacterize something after the fact, but I’ve felt lighter for it.

So the idea of watching a movie that essentially splays out the past traumas I’ve been dealing with – youth and queerness and masculinity and love – sent red flares in my vision and, if I’m being honest, I actively avoided seeing the movie. But with the stretch of eight hours ahead of me and nothing to do but sit, I finally relented.

It also comes from a very legitimate place of cynicism. Queer men, particularly gay, white men, are luckier than others in our community in the fact that we have had more and varied representation in the media. But still, the idea of a movie that depicted my experience made me wary and scared. We get so few chances, and I didn’t want one to be squandered. I wanted to remain unseen.

But in a similar way to Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name truthfully and honestly depicted shades of my life in ways that felt like a tribute, rather than an exploitation.

It was painful to watch, Call Me By Your Name, but it was a curious pain because I felt it lancing me softly and beautifully. I felt parts of me uncoil, spirals of sadness that have been clamped up for so long. I was sad watching the movie, and jealous in ways, and unjealous in others.

Surprise, surprise, but I did not have a love story like Elio and Oliver’s in my high school experience. I had one, very intense and unrequited love – in the way that only seventeen-year-old closeted kids can love – but I related to the breathless, heartsick trill of their relationship. And honestly, I can’t ignore the fact that Armie Hammer is of the same mold as my high school crush: blonde and strappingly all-American.

So much of the romance in my life has been wrapped up with shame, longing, sadness and guilt, and that what I felt the movie portrayed so honestly. How love is propelled by a desire to satiate your own loneliness, quell the turmoil and the self-sabotaging desire to jump. Despite growing up in a world that was growing more and more tolerant of being gay, I don’t recall any positive representation of queer love in my childhood. I had no interactions with gay people, had no inkling that they could be thriving adults.

Watching Call Me By Your Name invoked a sadness similar to the first time I read Giovanni’s Room, sadness that our experience of love is so often colored by pain. I know that this can be a universal experience, but it feels particularly like the nexus of queerness. It’s sad, but it’s also comforting; that we’re a part of a lineage and history that extends beyond your singular, mortal self, despite that mantle being so wrought with pain.

Hence the gay funk: so many of the queer people I know didn’t get to have clean, cut-and-dry first experiences. They were tainted by who we were, and how the world treated us. So watching Call Me By Your Name made me viciously jealous of a tenet of teenhood that I missed out on. The movie made me sad for the kid that I was. The kid who was robbed of so many things, so many experiences. For all the love that I did have, there was so much love spilled on the ground, wastefully draining away. I’m sad for what he had to go through, for what he didn’t realize he was going through, and for what he would be going through.

But the movie made me happy in a lot of ways, because that pain was clarifying for me – it crystallized, for good and bad, the person that I am. It made me a fighter and empathetic and clumsy, complex and ruthless and fragile. It made me question who I was – it made me fight for myself. It grounded me in my own soil. It also reminded me that, in spite of it all, I loved being a teenager. I loved feeling all the nuances and complexity of emotions – first best friends, first break-up, first disappointment, first triumph. Like Mike Phelps was built for swimming, I was built for feeling things deeply. A lot of that (lol) was depression, but I think that even without being depressed, my body would be carved for intensity of feeling.

And it’s funny, because if I saw that kid – seventeen-year-old me – I would think that he was beautiful. I would admire his grit, his humor, his broken attempts at concealing how deeply and tumultuously he cared. I would’ve found him brave, and witty, and endearing, even as he attempted to be as spiky as possible. It’s the lasting echo I’ve carried with me since watching the movie: deep, bursting love for the kid that I was, despite everything, despite all the pain. And that’s what the end of the movie was about. Closing yourself off from grief is another kind of trauma. Feeling things deeply is not a curse, it’s part of the experience.

So much of life is love tempered with pain. One doesn’t exist without the other.

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Essay, feminism, Thinkpiece

CITIZEN ROSE – SUSPENDING DISBELIEF

While watching the first installment in a series of five, I remembered how primed we are to not believe women.


 I went into the first episode interested, but hesitant. I didn’t really know much about it, just that it was on E!. The only similar project that E! has done recently was I Am Cait, which skewed more documentary and less reality than any previous programming. Citizen Rose is a documentary, but it often elevates to an art piece. It’s non-linear at times, and broken up by short vignettes and multiple perspectives and angles.

I decided to watch it after watching the short clip, that’s since gone viral, of Rose getting into a verbal altercation with a trans woman at a book signing for Brave, McGowan’s new book. McGowan said that the trans activist had been a plant utilized to disrupt her, and she promptly canceled the tour. One of my favorite podcasts, Babe?, discussed both the incident and the documentary – I love their opinions, so I felt curious enough to watch it. The first installment is uploaded in full onto YouTube.

I want to preface this by saying that I am white, I am cisgender, and I am male. My privilege informs how I see the world, and while I try to educate myself and be mindful, I still have that lens built into my experience. If I say anything that’s uneducated, or misinformed, or wrong, I would love to be educated.

I think the biggest thing I took away from Citizen Rose was how deeply the instinct to not believe women is built into me.

I noticed it when Rose said that she was targeted by spies and was worried about being killed; I had this gut reaction to call her a liar, or crazy, or delusional. But then I realized that she had already been proven right.

In Ronan Farrow’s article, he described the lengths Harvey Weinstein went to discredit Rose. He used two different black ops spy units, one called Black Cube, to infiltrate Rose’s life – find out things that could be used against her, steal her then-unpublished book from her. This is, according to Farrow, proven. I had forgotten this actively, so when Rose said that the trans woman at her book signing was a plant used to attack her, I immediately dismissed her.

But I was more willing to believe a man that was fact-checking than the woman herself. I had this knee-jerk reaction to distrust Rose.

If Rose was right about the spies following her, then she might be right about the plant. The problem is that we don’t know, but we refuse to offer her the benefit of the doubt. And even if it’s not true, McGowan has existed in a world of constant gaslighting for the last twenty years. She was never believed, or heard, or acknowledged. She didn’t know who to trust. For twenty years, she must’ve felt like she was losing her mind.

This is part of the problem. We refuse to believe women. And I don’t think that this is an accident.

I thought back to the recently released Quentin Tarantino audio about Roman Polanski.

“He had sex with a minor,” Tarantino said in the recording. “That’s not rape. To me, when you use the word rape, you’re talking about violent, throwing them down – it’s like one of the most violent crimes in the world.” Though Tarantino later said that he was playing “devil’s advocate” in that interview, what does that say about how he views rape? And how does that translate into his work?

In one of her speeches, Rose talks about the cult of Hollywood that dictates how we perceive people.

“This is what you are as a woman…this is what you are as a man,” she says. “This is what you are as a boy, girl, gay, straight, transgender.” Then she leaned into the microphone, “But it’s all told through 96 percent males in the Director’s Guild of America; that statistic has not changed since 1946.”

Hollywood is often dismissed as shallow, vapid and fluffy. But perhaps that’s on purpose. Because if you don’t see it as substantial, then you don’t see it as a threat. Then you suck down the poison they give you without even thinking, without even realizing how it informs how you perceive the world. Representation matters not just for its own sake. It affects every part of you, how you see other people and how you see yourself. So if movies tell you that women are objects to be pursued, and that men must be dominant in their pursuits, you are being trained to not recognize rape and assault. You learn it through the rigid definition of what predators tell you it is.

But that’s not the truth, and that’s what Rose is trying to say. The things we’ve been given, the tools and the vocabulary, are built on an altar of maintaining the status quo. It’s meant to keep women quiet, docile and objects; it’s meant to keep men aggressive and unemotional and straight.

“Don’t rock the boat.” “Don’t be dramatic.” “Don’t worry.” “Don’t be a bitch.” “Don’t exaggerate.” “Don’t be crazy.”

At one point, Rose asks the viewer to recall everything they know about her. That’s she slutty; that she’s crazy; that she’s unwell. And she asks them, us, to think about who is telling that to us.

In many cases, it was people under the thumb of Harvey Weinstein. People like Weinstein used the cult of Hollywood to introduce and reinforce stereotypes and misinformation about women, queer people, people of color. And that immediately cripples any point to the contrary, because you will never, ever be believed.

Rose McGowan is not perfect; far from it. She’s messy and complex and complicated and says the wrong things sometimes. But that’s everybody; we are all imperfect. But think about why we insist that our leaders be completely without flaws – is it because we need to be led by perfect people, or is it meant to stop us from rallying behind someone? Is it meant to keep us rapid and frothing at each other, rather than at the people who deserve it?

It’s why we attack the actors, usually female, who star in Woody Allen’s movies but still give Woody Allen money for filmmaking. It’s why we attack Meryl Streep. It’s why we tear apart women when they step out of line, but offer second chances, and third and fourth and twenty, to men. Why we call grown men “boys” but slut-shame girls.

When Rose got off the stage after her speech, she saw that an article had already written up about it. And in a line that would normally be so quiet and such a throwaway, she said, “Wow. This is incredible. Someone listened to me.”

No one, ever, ever, listened to Rose, or Asia Argento or any of the other survivors. There were people who knew what was going on: who walked past the locked doors, who let up unsuspecting women to towering offices, who massaged away the truth: no one listened to people like Rose.

So when I was watching, I tried to suspend my disbelief, my societally-ingrained reflex to dismiss her as “crazy.” And once I did that, I listened.

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Politics, Thinkpiece

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Header Image Source: CNN


Public figures like Caitlyn Jenner and Ivanka Trump are shying away from disclosing their political activities.

While promoting her new book, Secrets of My Life, Caitlyn Jenner sat down with Andy Cohen at Sirius XM Radio for a town hall-style meeting Wednesday, April 26. Jenner made headlines when she came out as transgender in 2015. In their discussion, Cohen steered the conversation towards politics—Jenner is famously a conservative Republican. Jenner said that she had been making trips to Washington, D.C. but that her influence in politics would be private and unseen.

It was a reiteration of the point she made the night before on CNN with Don Lemon. She said that she would not take up President Trump’s offer to go golfing after he revoked the former administration’s protection for transgender students. However, Jenner said she would go golfing with President Trump in private, because if she did it in public, her community would “go nuts” and ostracize her.

Besides the puzzling contradiction of going on public television to say that you will golf with President Trump in private, Jenner’s statement that much of her involvement in politics would be behind closed doors is troubling at best and dangerous at worst.

Jenner is markedly tone-deaf when it comes to issues of LGBTQ equality. On The Ellen Show, she did not express complete support for same-sex marriage, and that it was an issue that she used to be completely against as a self-identified “traditionalist.” Instead, she said that if “the word marriage is so important to you, then I can support that.” She claimed that the hardest part of being a woman was picking out “what to wear.”

These can be dismissed as tragically unfortunate choices of words, but the root of the issue is that Caitlyn Jenner is a person of immense privilege who wants to speak for, represent and negotiate on behalf of arguably the most disenfranchised and least privileged subsection of the U.S. population.

According to a 2016 Reuters article, “almost 60 percent of transgender Americans have avoided using public restrooms for fear of confrontation, saying they have been harassed and assaulted.” According to the Office for Victims of Crime, one in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted in their lifetime. 13 percent of African-American transgender people surveyed were sexually assaulted in the workplace, and 22 percent of transgender homeless individuals reported assault whilst staying in shelters.

And while Jenner is transgender, it cannot be denied that for 65 years she presented as a white, privileged man. And after she transitioned, she had unfettered access to the best surgeons and doctors, a private Malibu estate for recovery and no monetary restrictions. Some transgender people choose to not go through surgery, but for those that would like to the costs are usually prohibitive.

Jenner has also been largely isolated from the daily discomfort that many queer people experience every day—catcalling, harassment and discrimination. All of these things, combined with her inexperience with politics and her position as a conservative Republican who voted for Trump, make me uncomfortable that she might be the touchstone for Republicans and the representative of the LGBTQ community. That she would do it with no cameras, at private dinners and meetings behind closed doors is even more concerning.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Ivanka Trump in her interview with Gayle King for CBS News. “I don’t think that it will make me a more effective advocate to constantly articulate every issue publicly where I disagree,” she said. “And that’s okay. That means that I’ll take hits from some critics who say that I should take to the street. And then other people will in the long-term respect where I get to. But I think most of the impact I have, over time most people will not actually know about.”

This idea of silent impact does a few things. Firstly, it absolves people like Trump and Jenner from any responsibility. If you don’t know what they’ve done, you can’t blame them. Secondly, it’s impossible to hold them accountable for anything. If they never pledge any sort of action, it’s impossible to keep them in line. Lastly, it’s difficult expect them to operate within a rational, ethical framework because you have no idea what they’re doing.

And lastly, as a person with unparalleled influence and platform, you don’t get to be private. If Ivanka wanted to operate as a private citizen, she shouldn’t have moved to Washington, D.C. and taken a position in her father’s administration. When she made that deal with the devil, she gave up the right to be private. When you’re operating from the most powerful building in the world, the American public deserve to know what you’re up to. If Caitlyn Jenner wanted to remain private, she shouldn’t have dropped the tantalizing tidbits that she was taking meetings in Washington.

You can’t have it both ways. If you want public power, then you don’t get to wield it privately.

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Politics, television, Thinkpiece

BILL O’REILLY IS LET GO FROM FOX NEWS BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING HAS BEEN SOLVED

Header Image Source: ABC News


On Wednesday, April 19, Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced that they would be terminating their professional relationship with Bill O’Reilly, the prime-time host of The O’Reilly Factor. A.k.a. they fired him.

The announcement comes after an April 1 New York Times story about an investigation into O’Reilly. Namely, that during his twenty-year career at Fox, O’Reilly and Fox paid out roughly $13 million to women who made allegations of sexual harassment by Mr. O’Reilly.

Social activists applauded the triumph of justice over injustice. However, in their haste to crow about this immediate victory, they forgot that the poison root of the issue still festers.

Since the article’s publication, more than 80 advertisers pulled support for The O’Reilly Factor, which was consistently the top-rated program in cable news. The initial Times article placed The O’Reilly Factor‘s earnings from 2014 to 2016 as $446 million from advertising. According to market research group Kantar Media, the amount of on-air advertisement bought dropped from nearly 16 minutes to eight minutes in just two weeks.

The Times reported that women inside the company expressed outrage and questioned “whether top executives were serious about maintaining a culture based on “trust and respect,” as they had promised last summer when another sexual harassment scandal forced the ouster of Roger E. Ailes as chairman of Fox News.”

The investigation found five women who had been paid off to avoid continuing forward with allegations of sexual harassment. Some of the alleged harassment consisted of O’Reilly taking interest in a woman, promising to help her career, and then making sexual advances on her. Other reported actions from Mr. O’Reilly were lewd comments, verbal abuse, and phone calls where it sounded and seemed as if O’Reilly were masturbating.

In the initial statement, and in articles from Fox since, the company has characterized O’Reilly positively. An internal memo, signed by Rupert Murdoch and sons Lachlan and James, all company executives, described O’Reilly as “by ratings standards…one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news…In fact his success by any measure is indisputable.”

In an article centered on the news of O’Reilly’s departure, author Howard Kurtz called O’Reilly “the biggest star in [Fox’s] 20-year history.” Kurtz ended his article by writing, “Even most of his critics acknowledged that O’Reilly…is an extraordinary broadcaster.”

Wednesday evening, Fox News anchor Bret Baier addressed O’Reilly’s departure on air, saying, “Bill O’Reilly, the biggest star in the 20-year history of Fox News, is leaving the network in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct.” CNN reported on Thursday morning that the payout O’Reilly would be receiving will end up somewhere in the “tens of millions.” In the payout after his ouster, Roger Ailes received $40 million.

The continued characterization of O’Reilly as a star is troubling. It undercuts any progress the company claims to have made in the aim of strengthening “trust and respect.” The language and message Fox is sending is clear. By refusing to condemn O’Reilly they are making the point that his sexual harassment was acceptable as long as he was making them money.

They were fine paying $13 million dollars because what he was bringing in was so much more. And it was not until investors began pulling out—until O’Reilly became a liability— that he was let go from the company.

It also actively reinforces the notion that bringing complaints about things like sexual harassment against people in power is oftentimes fruitless. O’Reilly preyed particularly on women in subordinate positions, promising them jobs or promotions or access. He outranked them in power, money and influence. And he outranked them in importance, at least in the eyes of Fox. For the five women who had the courage to come forward, to deal with the career ramifications of being honest, there might be countless others, who did not want to come up against the might of an entire corporation.

Yes, eventually Bill O’Reilly was out of a job. But if the Times had not done their investigation, if the advertisers had not pulled out, it’s impossible to gauge when Fox would’ve grown tired of bankrolling O’Reilly’s predation. They didn’t grow tired of it in the twenty years O’Reilly was in their employ. Because that’s what it boils down to—they paid money, to the women in payouts and to him in salaries, to keep him in a position of power, the same one he would abuse to harass women. If they hadn’t been caught, every sign points to the likelihood that 21st Century Fox would’ve kept bailing O’Reilly out.

And so while Twitter erupts in the small and immediate victory of O’Reilly’s firing, we lull ourselves into complacency and forget the real meaning behind the story. Fox News is not dedicated to an atmosphere of “trust and respect.” They tolerated sexual harassment in exchange for monetary benefits.

They did not fire Bill O’Reilly because he was a sexual harasser. They did not fire him because people found out. They fired him because he cost them money.

O’Reilly is the head of the hydra—you cut it off and another one grows. The poison and power of corporations like Fox does not lie in extremities like O’Reilly. They originate from the core. The problem with Bill O’Reilly wasn’t just Bill O’Reilly. It always was, and still is, Fox.

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pop culture, Review, television, Thinkpiece

“PARIS”—KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS

On March 19, Keeping Up with the Kardashians aired the episode centered around the Oct. 3 Paris robbery and assault of Kim Kardashian. The episode, titled “Paris,” was cut together clips of the Wests’ personal videographer, KUWTK film crew and camerawork done by Kim’s assistant Stephanie Sheppard. The result was 42 minutes (no commercials) of the most powerful reality television I have ever seen.

The episode was so effective because it was drastically different from how the Kardashians usually portray themselves. The blurry, ‘80s-style videography from Kanye’s personal archives is not typically (or ever) utilized in a KUWTK episode. Everyone holding a camera is a friend, rather than a crew member, meaning that Kim is much more open. That closeness between friends, Kim interacting with the camera, translates to the episode feeling much more dynamic and intimate.

The show also made the smart decision of not beginning the season with the Paris incident. In the episode-and-a-half period before the robbery, the show intentionally showcased more of Kim’s personality. She has often remarked that the show portrays her as dumber than she actually is, so this portrayal feels more authentic. We see her smiling, nosing around Khloe’s new relationship, thumbing through racks of clothing, laughing about her bodyguard tackling the butt-grabbing prankster to the ground. So when Kim finally gets robbed, and as the story gets retold through Kim and the people around her, we have become so attached to the bright, funny, sharp side of Kim that the robbery burns even brighter in comparison.

The Kardashians have built their careers on documenting their lives, but as they’ve gotten bigger, they’ve gotten better at hiding their true feelings. They say less, and everything they show is very edited. “Paris” is so raw and real and sad, that it’s antithetical to everything else they’ve ever shown.

Some people will criticize her for showing the robbery aftermath in the same way that people criticized her for documenting her life, claiming that she was the reason she got robbed. The common critique of “She flaunted her wealth” permeated every news title, the beginning of every argument. But in the same way that “she flaunted her body” is not a valid excuse for rape, flaunting anything should not be reason for inviting assault.

The gut reaction to victim-blame stems from this hatred of Kim Kardashian for being confident in her womanhood, particularly in her sexuality. Ask anyone who dislikes Kim, and it all begins with, “She’s famous for a sex tape!” As if she released it herself; as if she promoted it; as if Ray J is the most famous man in the world even though, through that logic, it should’ve promoted his career as well. A sex tape in 2007 does account for being arguably one of the most famous people in the world in 2017.

It’s the fact that Kim refused to be shamed or cowed by her sex tape. She didn’t let it define her. We as a society have such a visceral reaction to the notion of a woman not being shamed into the restrictive box set aside for female sexuality. And I truly believe that Kim refusing to be adhere to social norms led to resentment, and that resentment led to hate, and that hate led to victim-blaming.

Even though the sex tape wasn’t mentioned, it hung over the entire retelling. Because Kim is both a celebrity and a woman, the seriousness of the robbery becomes intersected with the threat of sexual assault. When the robbers came into her room, she was naked but for a robe. She detailed one robber pulling her down to the edge of the bed towards him by her legs.

“He pulled me toward him at the front of the bed and I thought, ‘OK, this is the moment they’re going to rape me,’” she said. “I fully mentally prepped myself—and then he didn’t.”

If this had been a male celebrity, I doubt that we would say that he was responsible for his assault. The notion of “asking for it” is so deeply associated with the feminine—blaming victims of rape for their assault by asking what they were wearing, how much they were drinking, who they were talking to—that anything done to a woman, especially a woman so closely linked with her sexuality, leads to victim-blaming. Because we see her “asking for it” in one sphere, and we transpose that onto another.

The Paris robbery has always turned into blaming Kim; blaming her robbery on her flaunting her wealth and life on Snapchat. But it needs to turn into a conversation on how we view women. How we shame and condemn women for owning their womanness; how we get angry about it. How we think, maybe in the darkest recesses of our inhumanity, that she had this coming.

Kim Kardashian did not have this coming. No amount of flaunting ever necessitates robbery or assault. She did nothing to deserve this. And as painful as I’m sure this reliving was for Kim, it was valuable. This is a woman who has an unparalleled platform and access. And instead of shying away from it, she used it for the broader good. She’s (hopefully) changing the way we talk about survivors of assault. Not with victim-blaming but with empathy and understanding.

“I took a tragic, horrific experience and did not let it diminish me,” said Kim on Twitter after the episode had aired. “Rather grew and evolved and allowed the experience to teach me.”

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