Sammi Bray ’25
You have probably seen an increase in Kanye West’s—or, as he now goes by, Ye’s—content in your social media feed over the past few weeks. After his ex-wife Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson started making news, West began publicly addressing the couple on social media and in his music. His posts and messages normalize dangerous and inappropriate behavior.
Repeatedly, West has overstepped boundaries, posting personal text messages between himself, Davidson, and Kardashian on his accounts. He has also posted a variety of bizarre, photoshopped images with added threatening or taunting imagery toward his ex and her new partner. West also posted a few images of himself holding up the date, clarifying that his account has not been hacked. Most of these images have now been removed from West’s page, perhaps a move by his PR team or a half-hearted attempt on his part to win back the affection of Kardashian.
West also began and ended a romantic relationship with Julia Fox, all while still begging to be back with Kardashian. Since their breakup, West has now been seen with women who look eerily like Kardashian—another unsettling action.
West’s behavior is, of course, incredibly disturbing and triggering for all people who have experienced domestic abuse or stalking. After all, West’s actions are normalizing emotional abuse. Celebrities like West who have a large fan base become responsible for what they put out into the world, encouraging their fans to act accordingly. In Kanye West’s case, encouraging violence and harassment towards Kardashian or Davidson. For example, in his new song, “Eazy,” West says he is going to beat Davidson.
West also pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior in relationships, modeling a negative example of how to treat the people around you. Like how television shows, for example, push the social norm, West pushes the boundaries between a couple post-breakup.
All of this on its own is problematic, a tragic example of men intimidating women; however, it also points us to a bigger, national crisis: toxic masculinity’s rejection of mental health. It is obvious to most people that we have an issue in our nation—and beyond—with masculinity. From youth, men are taught to harbor their emotions and never ask for help.
West, who lives with bipolar disorder, has frequently mentioned his decision to stop taking the medications he was prescribed to regulate the disorder. Publicly and to a large audience, West has chosen to ignore mental healthcare. Further, he makes a mockery of those who decide to get the help they need.
We have seen this happen repeatedly, especially with Black masculinity. When Will Smith cried on his wife’s show, Red Table Talk, he became a meme. Jada Pinkett Smith, who was also obviously emotional, did not receive the same reaction from the public. Both West and Smith have been made into a joke. These phenomena have propagated the mocking of mental health struggles and even expanded to sully the expression of normal, healthy emotions. A few counteracted this trend, expressing compassion for Smith or highlighting what is wrong with West’s behavior. Still, the belittling of mental health struggles remains the primary narrative.
Fans, especially young men, look up to West. His career has been quite successful and spans over a decade. It is important to address the influence that West has on his fans and anyone who is listening to his rhetoric, both for his own safety and the well-being of others.