r/Kanye Is Ashamed of Kanye...Except When It Comes to Being Anti-Abortion
Why Kanye's attacks on women's bodies were especially hurtful yesterday
Welcome back to Going Downs, the newsletter about the intersection of celebrity and politics.
Yesterday, Forbes debuted the results of a four-hour interview with now-candidate for President, Kanye West in an article titled, “Kanye West Says He’s Done With Trump—Opens Up About White House Bid, Damaging Biden And Everything In Between.”
I, like many people, felt that the circumstances of the interview were ethically suspect — Kanye has spoken out about suffering from bipolar disorder; he endured an involuntary psychiatric hold in 2016. But since the 80-100 people who stand between Kanye being probed by Forbes did not stop it - at both Forbes and on Kanye’s “team,” now we the people have to contend with his words. I’m not here to speculate on journalistic ethics or the current state of Ye’s mental health - I’m here to talk about what he said, and how his fans perceived it.
West seems pretty serious this time about his bid for presidency, even saying he’ll campaign for write in votes. He has a running mate, a “biblical life coach” Michelle Tidball, a party “The Birthday Party,” celeb endorsements from Kim and Elon Musk, and he’s renouncing his years-long support of Donald Trump. Kanye even has “issues” he cares about. Most of his “policies” if you could call them that, stem from a sort of Suburban Internet Evangelical Christianity: he’s pro-life, anti-vaccines, he believes in “the mark of the beast,” (from Revelations), he wants to bring back prayer in public schools, and believes Coronavirus spread because humans “made god mad.” He also wants America to be more like the fictional Wakanda, and most threatening to democracy, believes in Divine Right - as in God “choosing” the next president and ruling America like a theocratic dictatorship or a deiocracy.
For me, the abortion comments were quite striking.
On the tamer end it was, “I am pro-life because I’m following the word of the Bible.”
He also said, “Planned Parenthoods have been placed inside cities by white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”
Last night, he tweeted and deleted a Google image search of “a fetus at 6 months.”
This echoes the conservative myth that 6 month abortions are commonplace and encouraged by liberals. They’re not. Most abortions occur at 13 weeks; third trimester pregnancy terminations are horrible, painful, and often medically necessary decisions that are incredibly, incredibly rare. This morning, Ye tweeted pictures of his four children, which many have attributed to be another pro-life sentiment.
On the Subreddit r/Kanye, a community of 400K accounts dedicated to Yeezy worship, reactions to the Forbes article were pretty unified. Memes touting how being a Kanye fan is “embarrassing” and that someone should “take Kanye’s phone away” when he’s allegedly having a manic episode. In the comments, the general tone is “I despise everything he’s saying but I love his music,” and an air of suspicion that any pro-Kanye-for-President posters are “MAGA-Teens” trolling for upvotes.
At r/Kanye, people seem to be most up in arms about West reaffirming his stance as an anti-vaxxer. In a global pandemic when we’re all desperately in need of a coronavirus vaccine, having a famous person say, “It’s so many of our children that are being vaccinated and paralyzed. . . . So when they say the way we’re going to fix Covid is with a vaccine, I’m extremely cautious. That’s the mark of the beast. They want to put chips inside of us, they want to do all kinds of things, to make it where we can’t cross the gates of heaven,” it’s troubling.
But when it comes to being anti-abortion, the Ye stans gloss over it. This poster believes it’s just Kanye trying to siphon off Trump votes by masquerading as a right winger. Another user defended Kanye being anti-abortion, writing, “Why is his pro life stance ridiculous? it’s just an opinion it’s not like he’s saying something crazy controversial, he just said that he is pro life because of the bible, many religious people think the same way.” Another comment put the onus on women to educate Ye, “As for the pro-life shit, give him time lol once he hears viewpoints from women or people who disagree & challenge him he'll adjust his stance on it (as always).” My favorite stream of comments, which started with, “Bruh the abortion stuff isn’t that bad,” and moved to “Abortion is bad. Here comes the woke mob.” Another echoed, “Anti abortion is at least a mainstream belief for half the country, but anti-vax is getting ridiculous.”
This is the part that bothers me the most. It should be controversial. (Them: “Here comes the woke mob”). That being anti-abortion, and effectively anti-woman, anti-equal rights is “mainstream” and “not that big of a deal.” This line of thinking in a fandom that seems to be apopleptic about everything else Kanye said, including running America like fictional Wakanda, is an erasure of the female experience. Sure, Reddit skews overwhelmly young and male (65% of users are young American men between the ages of 18-35), but it saddened me to hear it described that way. Being pro-life is pretty much not a mainstream idea at all. As of 2020, Pew research reports that 61% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This opinion is the highest it’s been in American history, and under a Republican-led government.
This is not the first time Kanye has spread misinformation about Planned Parenthood to his millions of followers. Last fall, in his famous visit to the TMZ offices to rant in support of Donald Trump, Kanye famously confused Plan B with abortion. “The political party [Democratic Party] has brainwashed his people to do unholy things, like Plan B birth control and encouraging the abortion of babies. He followed up by saying, "Thou shall not kill." Sigh. I know this is preaching to the choir (pun intended as Kanye is a Christian recording artist), but Plan B does not cause miscarriage. It does not work if you are pregnant. There’s also the myriad time that Kanye has claimed “the government created AIDS.”
While we’re talking about the failure to educate one of the most famous rappers on Sex Ed, I should also probably say, at this point that, the idea that PP was “placed inside cities by white supremacists” is patently untrue. To quote Planned Parenthood’s Twitter response to Forbes, suggesting that PP is a hate group is “Stigmatizing Black people by suggesting that they are unable to make their own decisions about their bodies, families, and lives isn't new, nor is it a coincidence - it's a ploy pulled directly from the anti-abortion playbook.”
Nothing really makes sense here. Kim Kardashian West has publicly advocated for Planned Parenthood - she’s donated money, she’s spoken out in favor of it, and even visited a PP on an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. She started her career in probably the most sex-positive, pre-marital sex way possible: by releasing a sex tape. Years ago, on an episode of Kim and Kourtney Take Miami, Kim strongly implied she herself had an abortion. When asked by her sister, Kim replied, “Who lies about having an abortion? You don’t. You lie about not having one.”
What’s worse to me, is Kim has fashioned herself as a bastion of womanhood - a “have-it-all” sex-positive mother to daughters. An advocate for trans rights - a believer that trans women are women. A careerist. A capitalist. A boss bitch. She can’t stop her mentally ill husband from doing Forbes interviews, but she can do more to prevent the forces who are feeding him this misinformation, whether it’s a church or his “biblical life coach” or alt-right YouTube videos he watches, from crystallizing his worldview. Is it your “job” to control your husband? When that husband intends on becoming the leader of the free world, even in a manic episode, you have to say (or have his assistant say), “Babe, I care about women’s rights, please don’t share that view to 29.6M followers.”
Though the last four years under Trump have seen massive hits to Planned Parenthood funding and non-abstinence Sex Ed, yesterday was a particularly harmful day for Ye to spread his belief that women don’t deserve equal access to a child-free life. In a 7-2 ruling, The Supreme Court voted that employers have the right to “opt-out” of covering birth control in their health care plans. Meaning, that if you are a woman and do not want to pay upwards of $90 per pill pack per month for the most effective, conventional form of birth control, you have to ask before you accept a job offer with health benefits. Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medication is covered by 99% of employer insurers in America. If that sounds sexist, it’s because it is.
In once-fun-progressive Florida yesterday, the governor ruled that you have to get “parental permission” to have an abortion. In cases of rape by family members (an all-too common situation for minors), this still applies. This is very bad, because Florida used to be the place teens could find parental-consent-free abortions. Now, literally every other state for the next 1,000 miles requires parental consent.
Yesterday also marked the news that Planned Parenthood and several affiliates got a federal Payroll Protection (PPP) loan of $80M. Then, Donald Trump tweeted that he regretted that decision. Meanwhile, the AFA (American Family Association), the Christian clinics where they make you look at the fetus and spread misinformation about family planning, received just as much.
Throughout my life, it has become obvious to me that men are woefully uneducated about sexual issues. From not understanding basic anatomy, periods and not understanding child support payments being mandatory, I’ve encountered pretty low IQs in otherwise intelligent men when it comes to understanding why abortion rights are women’s rights. So, here it is from an economic angle:
Having a child costs $233,610 before the kid turns 18. This does not include extracurriculars, college or private school.
Access to abortion and birth control prevents teen pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies in homes that simply cannot afford this immense cost.
Receiving child support from a father of an unwanted pregnancy is extraordinarily difficult: you have to get a lawyer and go to court.
We don’t have paid family leave in most states, nor do we have the guarantee that if you leave a job for maternity leave, you won’t be fired, demoted or replaced. We don’t have a welfare state or social safety net.
The federal minimum wage, if we kept pace from 1977, should be $33. It’s $7.25. Imagine trying to feed just yourself on that. Now imagine paying for daycare or grad school.
Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Women are the face of America’s poor and working class.
Teen and unwanted pregnancies set back women from career and educational goals. Single mothers face discrimination - they are less likely to be promoted or taken seriously in their jobs.
With Obamacare insurance, it costs $8,000 to have a baby. If you have a lapse in coverage on your delivery day, that cost is $30,000-$50,000 just to take the baby out of you, not including meds or other services. Abortions at PP are “pay as you can” or $350-$900 depending on where you’re located.
Planned Parenthood provides WAY MORE than abortion: it’s a counseling service, an HIV clinic, a resource for women who face domestic abuse (1 in 4 women are abused domestically each year), they provide transgender health resources and hormone therapy, they actually help you if you are pregnant with prenatal appointments and classes. For many women and men making that $7.25/hour, it’s their only choice for these kinds of services.
I bring up money stuff, because “getting ahead” in America means “investing in yourself.” Men can afford to do that. Men who live in Calabasas who will never be afraid that one misstep can cost them their dreams and goals. Men can take out business loans, and graduate school loans, and impressive looking car loans, if they never had to worry about a famous rapper telling them they are literally “going to hell” for opting out of a $200K price tag of having a baby.
It’s easy for a man whose journey as a parent included selecting the perfect surrogate two-thousand miles from his house to carry his children; having as many children as he wanted with the woman he is married to, and having access to the best healthcare and doctors in America.
Yes, Kanye earned this money with his music career. But Kanye didn’t earn the right to stand between women, especially low income women who are using Planned Parenthood instead of a private doctor, from making serious choices about their futures. Kanye didn’t earn the right to use his platform to spread lies about science. He didn’t earn the right to make female-identifying people feel like they don’t deserve a say in their bodies.