I tried to write something about my new workspace, but it turned into a rumination on September 11 and our changed national culture. I don't know why this surprises me.
I’m writing this anonymously because I don’t want my name continuously associated with my ex-partner, and this desire is so strong that I don’t even want to risk it with a pseudonym. We both work in entertainment, though we come from very different backgrounds and work in different genres. It’s been years since we were together, but it was my only time in the tabloid spotlight for a relationship, and it still follows me around because: the internet.
Much could be said along the lines of “quit yer whining—you chose showbiz so you should be happy your name is in the press at all it’s part of the job yadda yadda yadda,” but that’s not my focus here today. That sort of dismissal of personal privacy because of working in entertainment is both a popular notion and one that doesn’t hold too much water, but that’s another story.
What I am most shocked about today is that I find myself engaging in exactly the kind of judgments that have sent me to bed in tears for years and I’m sickened with myself. When I was with my ex-partner, the public questioning of what we were doing together and mockery of our differences in age and culture were bad enough, but a lot of the time the private insults hurt more.
At social gatherings, people felt free to say things right to my face about their perceived notions of disparity in our income and attractiveness levels. If someone is just being a “hater,” it’s easier to laugh them off, but the sheer volume of comments got to me.
"How can you be going out with him…?"
My ex had a bad reputation as a womanizer, and no amount of me saying that I had gotten to know him on a personal level, that they may not understand and that’s probably OK, would make a difference.
Even worse than strangers and casual acquaintances, however, were my friends and family, who mostly tried to remain positive and trust my judgment, and also mostly failed at that. There was the close friend who accused me of being a gold digger in the vilest of ways, by cheerily insinuating that I might teach her how to “get that money, honey.” There were the friends of his who urged me to get out. With friends like these…
I’ve analyzed the red flags I saw during that relationship to death, and of course some of the mean comments were just meanness, but some of them might have been poorly communicated concern. See, it actually does matter who we choose to open our hearts and lives to, and if long-term commitment is on the horizon, it makes sense for others to speak up.
Once the commitment has been made however, what do we do? Just accept that our own gut feelings/personal experience/someone’s actual transgressions don’t matter because someone we care about cares about them? I’m not sure that’s fully possible.
I’ve been wrestling with my newfound hatred of every move Kanye West makes for some time now. I used to be a huge fan of his music and yes, I have met him. His shifting musical output is one thing, but my level of disgust has surpassed what seems like a logical response to artistic change.
Then it hit me: It’s Kim.
I’ve never appreciated anything Kim Kardashian has put out into the entertainment or media world. As much as I would like to say I can separate the personal life of a celebrity from the art for which I’m a fan, it turns out I can’t. I’m disappointed in myself, especially given my personal past, but I think less of him for being with her.
I’m so ashamed at typing that. But it’s the truth. I know she gets a ton of hate that I actually do think is unjustified — it’s not about the tape or slut shaming or anything like that for me. I find her television persona objectionable, and even when I try to celebrate her brazen success in capitalizing on nothing much that is an undeniable truth, I still come back to wishing she just… would not.
I’ve met her too, and when I find myself applying the same "How could he…" questions to Mr. West that were applied to me, I can answer them just like I’m sure others answered them about me, with pure speculation that is overwhelmingly superficial and/or negative. (By the way, I know many people think Kanye West is no peach either, but I was a fan.)
In my case, I thought that I was falling for a man, not his tabloid reputation. I know all too well how wrong public perception can be, so I trusted my private interactions more. That relationship ended in a way that was right in line with his previous tabloid headlines, which I thought were either pure fiction or exaggerated so much that they might as well be. I was wrong.
So, because I was wrong, does that mean marrying Kim Kardashian is the cause of Kanye West’s movement from more raw hip-hop to vapid efforts at Paris couture? No, I don’t think anyone could really say that. But has their relationship changed them, or at least what we know of them? Absolutely.
Experience has taught me that will happen, and perhaps even should happen. Whether that change is for the better or the worse is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. It might be a change for the worse, or further in the direction of one partner’s tastes than the other.
Or even if it isn’t a change in a person, exactly, it’s an accepted adage that we may be judged by the company we keep, and maybe I had just been holding on to some notion that that is unfair because I felt I had unfairly suffered because of it.
I lost friends over my relationship, just as Kanye West told Style.com last month that he did. Reading the comments on this xoJane piece that references Neil Gaiman made these feelings surge in me even more because of how swiftly and thoroughly they turned to the popular negative opinion of his wife, Amanda Palmer. I’ve met them both as well, and I could do nothing but nod in agreement at the comments. I love his creative output and want to be better than that, but goddammit.
(I know it’s kind of yucky to keep saying I’ve met these people, but it makes a difference whether someone is just a name in a tabloid, or if you’ve chatted and dined together and observed them in the flesh, especially in discussing relationships.)
It’s one thing if it’s a fling, but these long term commitments make me question everything. If someone in my life is seriously with someone I find objectionable, now I say something sooner and stronger than I ever would have. There’s “giving people a chance,” there’s “minding your business,” and there’s also the reality that who we love says something about us.
We are all human. We are all fantastic and flawed, in our own ways and at different levels. Still, some people in the world are highly objectionable to other people in the world, so if someone you care about cares about one of them, what do you do?