Rob Kardashian is no stranger to being messy on social media, but on Wednesday he took it to a whole new (and newly disturbing) level with a flurry of Instagram posts calling out ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, Blac Chyna, for allegedly cheating on him. These posts included explicit photos, which appeared to expose Chyna's nude body to Kardashian's millions of Instagram followers.
The whole saga has been splashed across the front pages of tabloids like Daily Mail and TMZ. Given how visible the Kardashian clan is, it's easy to think about this incident simply as a juicy celebrity drama, there for us to laugh and gawk at. But what Kardashian did isn't "juicy." He not only violated Chyna's privacy and utilized slut-shaming to gain power over his ex, but he may have actually violated California's revenge porn law in the process.
More broadly, Kardashian's actions are an all-too-familiar example of the tactics some men use to show of their masculinity at the expense of women.
Kardashian began his tirade on the morning of July 5 by posting a video of Chyna and a man kissing.
"Hahahaha Chyna just sent me this video saying happy 4th of July what a crazy person," Kardashian captioned the photo. "Come spend time with your daughter instead of fucking me and then this dude right after. You need help."
What followed was a series of posts that included photos of Chyna's alleged lovers, allegations that Chyna is a drug and alcohol addict, claims that she left Kardashian after he paid $100k in post-baby plastic surgery for her, and, most egregious of all, screenshots of naked pictures Kardashian said that Chyna had texted to him.
Sure, Kardashian may be hurt, but the language he used in his posts ― as well as the nude photos ― are not designed to simply convey that hurt. Instead, he seems intent on publicly slut-shaming Chyna. While Kardashian once seemed to revel in Chyna's unapologetic sexuality, in his Instagram posts he declares derisively that "she's everybody's and it's been that way."
This isn't the first time that the 30-year-old reality star has used slut-shaming to get back at an ex. In December 2012, he went on a Twitter tirade against his ex Rita Ora, referring to her has "Rita WhOra" and accusing her of cheating on him with 20 men.
When men share naked photos of ex-girlfriends without permission and detail the sexual exploits of those ex-girlfriends to millions of strangers online, what they're really trying to do is "perform" masculinity. Demeaning is their method of domination, a way of saying, "Yeah, you may not want me anymore, you may have slept with other dudes, but I still own your body."
The partially nude photo of Chyna has has since been taken down from Kardashian's account by Instagram, who said in a statement to HuffPost:
"We want to maintain a safe and supportive environment on Instagram, and we work quickly to remove reported content that violates our community guidelines."
By late Wednesday afternoon, Kardashian's account had been disabled altogether. (Kardashian claims this was done by Instagram, but the site has yet to confirm this). Kardashian then switched over to Twitter, where he continued to post naked pictures of Chyna, which have since been deleted from his Twitter account.
The photos that Kardashian posted, both on Instagram and Twitter, were quickly screencapped and shared throughout social media by countless numbers of people.
When men share naked photos of ex-girlfriends without permission...what they're really trying to do is "perform" masculinity. Demeaning is their method of domination, a way of saying, "Yeah, you may not want me anymore, you may have slept with other dudes, but I still own your body."
In 2013, the state of California passed a revenge porn law that makes intentionally posting someone's nude photos without their consent to intentionally cause emotional distress a criminal misdemeanor. It's an offense that can reportedly get someone up to six months in jail. But regardless of whether Kardashian ends up facing criminal charges in this case, what about the social ramifications of his actions?
Many of the comments under Kardashian's Instagram posts ― from both men and women ― are disturbingly supportive of his behavior. After all, Kardashian is a rich, famous man with a platform and a name that instantly gets tabloid attention. Blac Chyna is an unapologetically sexual former stripper, a black woman who has made a career out of seeking attention. All of these things make her the perfect target for dismissive statements like, "That's what she gets," and "What did she expect?"
Let's say Chyna did cheat on Kardashian. Let's say she really is the terrible mom and girlfriend he claims she is, a woman who, all along, only ever wanted to be with him for the money and fame his family name would bring him. It's possible that all of those things are true. But here's the thing: a woman's past infidelities and moral character have no bearing on whether it's OK to use her sexual history against her or post a nude picture of her without her explicit consent.
It is understandable to want to process one's emotions, even publicly, after a difficult breakup. But that process should not and cannot include violating a former partner's privacy.
In one of his posts, Kardashian states that he hopes, one day, that he and Chyna's 7 month-old daughter, Dream, will see the things he's posted and said about her mother.
"I hope she does, cuz this isn't love," the reality star wrote.
There's an irony there that's lost on Kardashian and the thousands of followers who have shared their messages of support in the past several hours. Yes, it isn't love to deceive a partner. But it also isn't love to use their body as a weapon with which to shame them. Hopefully, one day, he gets that.