Screenshot: Kanye West, "kanye west / charlamagne interview" / YouTube
In 2007, when Britney Spears suffered a “mental breakdown,” tabloids hounded her every move. Paparazzi chased her across the country as she went in and out of rehab, shaved her head, smashed a car with an umbrella, and lost custody of her children. Her mental illness was a spectacle, and we all watched, as judgmental as we were gleeful.
The magazine headlines of my youth were consumed with blaming female stars for their own mental illnesses. The Olsen twins were terrible role models for suffering from eating disorders. Lindsay Lohan’s partying, her stints in rehab, her arrests, and the media frenzy that surrounded them all but ruined her career. When she started dating a woman, it was seen as a symptom of her deteriorating wellbeing and wild ways, rather than just a normal relationship.
In 2018, when Roseanne Barr, star of Roseanne, tweeted a racist “joke” at 2am while high and struggling with “mental health issues”, the internet was relentless in their hatred, and eventually she was fired from her role in the show, something that she has described as “the worst thing they could possibly have done to me.”
This year, when Kanye West, who suffers from bipolar disorder, tweeted a storm of similarly outlandish things, burst into tears on stage, claimed that Harriet Tubman “never actually freed slaves,” came out against vaccines and abortion, all the while running for President of the United States, our response was very different.
Immediately, as “Pray for Ye” trended on Twitter, it was clear that the internet was largely concerned about Kanye’s health, just as they had been a few years earlier when he had come out in support of Donald Trump, and announced that “slavery was a choice.”
What concerned me though, were the cries heard across the internet, claiming that “The Kardashian Curse” had struck again. People were openly begging for Kanye to be “freed” from the women who have clearly driven him into a mental breakdown (According to Kanye, his situation with his wife and her family is just like the film Get Out, wherein black people were bought, sold and had white minds implanted into their body, essentially enslaving them forever).
So goes the “Kardashian Curse” theory: any man who comes into the orbit of the Kardashian women’s lives will suffer the consequences. Khloe Kardashian’s ex-husband, Lamar Odom, nearly died of drug abuse. Kourtney Kardashian’s ex Scott Disick suffered from his own public mental breakdown - his alcoholism was heavily documented on their various reality shows. Kris Humphries, Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband (of 72 days) found his career taking a dive-bomb after their divorce. Tyga has been in and out of the court room ever since his break up with Kylie Jenner. Athlete after athlete associated with the Kar-Jenner family have had their sporting losses blamed on this “Kardashian Curse.”
The difference between these two public responses to mental health is simple. When women suffer from mental health crises, it’s their fault. When men suffer from mental health crises, it’s the fault of the nearest woman.
Let’s call it what it is: bullshit.
There’s no dark magic stored in the vaginas of the Kardashian women, hexing the men who sleep with them. The mental health, addiction issues, career failures, personal tragedies and various other scandals that have surrounded these men belong to the men and the men alone. Lamar Odom’s problems are Lamar Odom’s problems. Scott Disick’s problems are Scott Disick’s problems. Kanye West’s problems are Kanye West’s problems.
Make no mistake, I don’t think Kanye should be punished for his mental illness by the tabloids like Lindsay and Britney were. I don’t think he should lose his career like Roseanne did. I just wish that we afforded the same care and respect for women going through similar situations. I wish that we didn’t hold women accountable for the men in their lives.Support Villainesse