The Politics of Kim Kardashian
The reality star took to The New York Times this weekend to blast deniers of the Armenian genocide. From gun control to stumping for Hillary, this isn’t the first time she’s used her platform for politics.
For a woman with a potentially debilitating hip-to-waist ratio, Kim Kardashian energetically juggles countless personal and professional commitments. On any given day, Mrs. West manages to disguise sponsored content as non-sponsored content, preserve her entertainment empire, save her husband’s career from himself, and post some selfies. Over the last few years, Kardashian has slowly added politics to her busy roster, adding an activist arm to her multi-pronged plan for world domination.
This past weekend, Kardashian popped on her (flattering, expensive) political hat with a full-page ad in the New York Times. Back in April, the Wall Street Journal published their own full-page ad denying the Armenian Genocide. The WSJ spot links to a website that attempts to downplay the number of Armenians who were rounded up and murdered by the Ottoman government. When questioned on their decision to feature a genocide denial in their well-respected paper, WSJ responded, “We accept a wide range of advertisements, including those with provocative viewpoints. While we review ad copy for issues of taste, the varied and divergent views expressed belong to the advertisers.”
This minor scandal may have gone down way back in April, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about queen of receipts Kim Kardashian West, it’s that she can and will attack when you least expect it. That brings us to this weekend, when the business-focused daily learned that it had something in common with 26-year-old pop star Taylor Swift. Pivoting from Snapchat to the New York Times, Kardashian addressed a new demographic—newspaper subscribers—head on: “Money talks, and right now it’s talking crap.” “My family and I are no strangers to BS in the press,” the Skechers Shape-Ups spokeswoman continued. “But when I heard about this full-page ad that ran in the Wall Street Journal denying the Armenian genocide, I couldn’t just brush it off.”
Kardashian went after the group behind the ad, Turkic Platform, the best way she knows how—by refusing to list their website, thus robbing them of the crucial clicks generated by a Kim Kardashian shout-out. Instead, she directed the bulk of her ire towards the Wall Street Journal, writing, “It’s one thing when a crappy tabloid profits from a made-up scandal, but for a trusted publication like WSJ to profit from genocide—it’s shameful and unacceptable…It’s totally morally irresponsible and, most of all, it’s dangerous. If this had been an ad denying the Holocaust, or pushing some 9/11 conspiracy theory, would it have made it to print?”
Kardashian ended her open letter by arguing for increased awareness, cementing her eligibility as her husband’s running mate in the process (West/West 2020!): “When we allow ourselves to be silenced by money, by fear and by power, we teach our children that truth is irrelevant. We have to be responsible for the message we pass on to our children. We have to honor the TRUTH in our history so that we protect their future.” It’s an important lesson for any and all news organizations: the next time you’re weighing moral stakes against profit margins, just ask yourself what sort of message you’re sending to North West.
Kim first visited Armenia in 2015, accompanied by Khloé Kardashian, Kanye West, and their daughter North. The Kardashians are half Armenian, on their father Robert Kardashian’s side. According to Kim, her great-great-grandparents immigrated to America in 1914, right before the genocide. The Kardashians’ emotional return was documented in an episode of their reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, offering viewers a welcome relief from on-screen enemas and half-hour long salad subplots. The sisters visited the Armenian Genocide Museum and met with Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan. Coinciding with the centennial of the 1915 mass killings, the Kardashians’ trip brought unprecedented global attention to the issue. Kim Kardashian cemented her role as an unofficial Armenian ambassador with a subsequent Time essay, in which she pushed Turkey to recognize the mass killings and urged President Obama to publicly use the word “genocide,” writing, “I will continue to ask the questions and fight for the genocide to be recognized for what it was.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Kardashian has found herself on the right side of history. From an early alignment with Paris Hilton to her tireless advocacy for the return of the fashion choker, Kardashian is one savvy celebrity. In addition to her family’s philanthropic projects—failed rapper Tyga and successfully unemployed aristocrat Scott Disick—Kim has taken on her own pet projects.
Inarguably one of the most famous women in the world, Kardashian has lived more than nine lives: from organizing the closets of California’s rich and famous, to keeping Ryan Seacrest in Crest Whitestrips, to saving Kanye West from debtors’ prison. But her most remarkable transformation has been from sex object to spokeswoman for self(ie) love and sexual autonomy. From her personal paean to unapologetic narcissism, Selfish, to her numerous naked Instagram shots and proud pregnancy pics, Kardashian has the most easily recognizable nude form this side of Venus de Milo. Her talent for monetizing marriage, maternity, emojis, and everything in between has taught a generation of women to be the business opportunity they wish to see in the world. In Kardashian’s words, “You really can take that power and put out what you want people to look at.” And while we might not all be budding over-sharers/millionaires, Kardashian’s feminist gospel, spread through reality TV and social media, is as aspirational and inspirational as it is accessible.
After one particularly infamous naked Instagram selfie elicited misogynistic, body-shaming clap backs from the likes of Piers Morgan (duh), Bette Midler (why?), and Chloe Grace Moretz (who?), Kardashian penned a moving blog post. The essay, timed to International Women’s Day, insists, “I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin…I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality.” Armed with a few hundred words and two very well-placed black bars, Kardashian definitively dismissed the notion that a wife and mother can’t also be a sexual being. Sheryl Sandberg could never.
In the wake of the Orlando Pulse shooting, Kim also took a rare policy stance in support of gun control legislation. As House Democrats orchestrated a sit-in to demand action, Kardashian tweeted, “After Orlando, Congress hasn’t done anything and now they’re going on vacation. I say #NoBillNoBreak.” She also tweeted, “So sad! The senate voted against background checks being needed to buy guns. So terrorists on FBI’s wanted lists can legally still buy guns.” For a little context, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards had a little over 24,000 Twitter followers at the time of the sit-in. But when Kardashian decided to retweet the congresswoman, she broadcast her crucial political commentary, in real time, to over 46.1 million followers. Trolls who might dismiss Kardashian’s interest in common sense legislation as a fad need to take a step back: She first spoke out back in 2015, tweeting, “My thoughts & prayers go out to Valeria Jackson’s family and friends! #GunLawsHAVEtoChange #GunSafety #BackgroundChecksNecessary.”
Perhaps most importantly, Kardashian is #WithHer. Over a year ago, she Instagrammed a selfie with Hillary Clinton, hash-tagged #HillaryForPresident. Mrs. West might be a self-described “liberal Republican” with a known soft spot for “cute little president” George W. Bush, but you won’t catch her campaigning alongside Scott Baio. Kardashian has arguably done more for HRC than some of her more vocal celebrity advocates—the Democratic Presidential candidate praised Kim for introducing her to her very flattering selfie camera, admitting that he’s been “desperately looking for one of those ever since.” Can someone please get the hardest working woman in American politics a freaking LuMee case?
Much like Clinton, Kardashian is a strong woman who faces more criticism than she deserves. But haters be damned, she will continue to do God’s work: supporting her political causes, exterminating snakes dressed in sheep’s clothing, and ridding the world of boredom one KUWTK marathon at a time.