In an exclusive interview with Good Morning America this week, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, appeared to publicly express regret for his treatment of Kim Kardashian, his ex-wife and mother of his four children. “This is the mother of my children, and I apologize for any stress that I have caused, even in my frustration, because God calls me to be stronger,” Ye told Linsey Davis.
This seems like an effort by the rapper to rehabilitate his image after many spoke out against his public harassment of Kardashian; some even went so far as to call it abuse. But to simplify his actions’ impact on Kardashian as mere “stress” obscures the reality of the situation and renders the apology insincere.
Ye, who disclosed his bipolar diagnosis in 2016 after a psychiatric hospitalization during a manic episode, is famous for his erratic behavior. Informed by my own experiences with mental health and ableism, I’ve called for nuance in discussing Ye and severe mental illness. But Ye’s treatment of Kardashian — mental illness or not — cannot be reduced to merely causing “stress.” What he did was much more destructive.
Following the announcement of their divorce, Ye bought a house across the street from Kardashian and sent her a truckload of red roses. He claimed that Kim thought he had put a hit out on her — as in, an attempted assassination — and he repeatedly posted screenshots of their conversations against her will and despite her pleading with him to keep their texts private. He took to social media to plead for Kim to come back, writing: “GOD PLEASE BRING OUR FAMILY BACK TOGETHER,” in the caption of a photo of Kardashian and their children.
Ye’s behavior escalated when Kardashian began publicly dating SNL star Pete Davidson. Ye repeatedly harassed Davidson, causing his followers to send threats to the comedian. On March 2, Ye uploaded a music video depicting a claymated version of himself kidnapping a cartoon Davidson, burying him alive, and decapitating him. Kardashian, again, begged him to stop; Ye posted a screenshot – also without her permission – of a text she had written in which she accused him of creating a “dangerous and scary environment” and added that she was afraid “someone will hurt Pete.”
With this recent interview, it seems Ye wants to be credited with making an apology — while failing to properly take accountability for his actions. There’s also subtle victim-blaming in his comments, which insinuate that Kardashian is unstable. “I need [Kardashian] to be less stressed and of the best, sound mind and as calm as possible to be able to raise those children at the end of the day,” he said, in an extension of his apology for “causing stress.”
This interview feels like a continuation of his abuse of Kardashian, not a cessation. From his own statements, it seems he now might be heading from social media to the courts, with a custody dispute. During his interview, Ye made several statements about custody, co-parenting, and “men’s rights”, a common anti-feminist dog whistle. “I’m their dad. It has to be co-parenting. It’s not up to only the woman. Like, men have a choice also. Men’s voices matter,” he said.
Previously, Ye went on a social media tirade about his eight-year-old daughter North’s presence on TikTok. “I told y’all before about this tik tok stuff,” he wrote in March on an Instagram post referencing his daughter singing to a Machine Guy Kelly song called “Emo Girl.”
“Now my 8 year old on here singing she fell in love with an emo girl. Leftist don’t want fathers to have no say in our childrens [sic] lives,” he continued.
This whole GMA interview is a stunt, and it furthers the harmful idea that men are somehow prejudiced against in divorces and custody disputes, when in reality it is children and then women who are most often harmed by the family court system. Men can and do face injustice in family court, but that’s not because they are men; that’s because we have a dysfunctional system in place that often does not take into account what’s best for children and society.
“As a dad and as a Christian, I have a right to have a voice on what my kids are wearing, what they’re watching, what they’re eating,” Ye said in his interview. “I have a platform where I get to say what so many dads can’t say out loud.”
Stress is something anyone in an intimate relationship is bound to cause someone, but when it’s sustained, it becomes distress. It becomes unsafe and frightening. West didn’t just cause Kardashian stress; he endangered her by repeatedly harassing her on a public stage and encouraging violent statements made about her former partner, Pete Davidson. Real accountability would mean admitting that.
And by the way, “men’s rights” is a conservative talking-point used to excuse the harassment of women under the guise of good parenting. Ye would do well to acknowledge that, too.