Whatever your feelings about Kim Kardashian might be — and for the record, mine are that I would overall like to see less of her — it is impossible to deny that what happened to the reality star earlier this week was horrifying. Imagine five men breaking into your hotel room with guns, and tying you up while you beg them not to hurt you; imagine pleading for your life and telling them that you have small children at home. (Though of course, anyone targeting Kim Kardashian is probably fully aware of how much she has to lose.) All the women I have spoken to about the robbery are in consensus about one thing: that this was, categorically speaking, a worst nightmare scenario. And yet, the internet almost immediately erupted in a blaze of victim-blaming critiques, from leading inferences about how Kim essentially brought this on herself to conspiracy theories about how the whole thing was staged for a Keeping Up With The Kardashians episode. Depressingly enough, that kind of reaction is pretty par for the course: Women often get blamed for the bad things that we allegedly bring upon ourselves, in one way or another. And women with a public profile — any kind of public profile, but particularly those of the Kardashian ilk — are often subjected to the worst flak. On Monday, the fashion site Pret-a-Porter shared the reactions about the robbery from journalists and editors who were markedly short on sympathy: In addition to comments about how the whole thing seemed staged or faked, at least one person said on-record that maybe Kim could have avoided the whole thing if she didn't geotag herself at the hotel. Even a particular white-haired fashion industry icon who, early on, professed his support for her later said that she is "too public" — meaning that she more or less invited the robbery.
The blame lies with the people who broke into her room, not with Kim.
That certainly sounds familiar: How many times have we heard that if a woman hadn't worn a short skirt, gotten drunk, or walked home at night by herself, then she wouldn't have put herself in danger? It's the very definition of victim-blaming, and it's wrong whether we're talking about Kim Kardashian West or any college student. I will admit that I, too, immediately thought about how social media makes us more vulnerable — and that, as women, we owe it to ourselves to be cognizant of the risks posed by sharing parts of ourselves with the world. Specifically: The parts that can be targeted to an exact location. But at the end of the day, the blame lies with the people who broke into her room, not with Kim. It's easy to forget the victim-assailant breakdown when looking for a way to discredit any woman's story — but particularly one who is already so picked apart for daring to have a cultural presence. People routinely put Kim down for being talentless or for seemingly chasing fame. But what if someone else had been attacked in their hotel room? Would Angelina Jolie have been so quickly blamed? Would Amal Clooney? If the same thing had happened to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, would the world have been so quick to insinuate that somehow the Emmy winner had gotten what she deserved? Would she somehow deserve it less? That last question, of course, is the darkest part of victim-blaming: the idea that a victim was somehow asking for it — whatever the "it" may be. But just like rape victims aren't responsible for their sexual assaults, Kim Kardashian wasn't asking to be robbed. To say otherwise is to participate in a dated tradition of demeaning women's stories. Now ask yourself: Is that something you want to be part of?