Kim Kardashian has never shied away from the fact that she made a sex tape with her ex-boyfriend Ray J in 2002.
When Kim discovered that Vivid Entertainment was planning to publicly share the 41-minute tape five years later, she initially attempted to sue the company before agreeing to settle out of court.
Kim Kardashian, Superstar was released in March 2007, with it being reported at the time that Kim was paid $1 million for the rights.
Seven months after the tape’s release, Kim and her family launched their E! reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which ran for 20 successful seasons before coming to an end last year.
However, Kim’s momager, Kris Jenner, had actually been pitching the series since 2006 and even had the backing to make it from Ryan Seacrest several months before Kim’s sex tape was released.
While it appears that Keeping Up would have made it to air either way, it has been argued that it is the infamous tape that secured the show’s initial viewership — especially as Kim was incredibly open when talking about it from the very first episode.
In the show’s premiere, Kim can be seen prepping for a televised interview with her sister Kourtney Kardashian. At one point, Kourtney asked her why she made the sex tape, to which Kim bluntly replied: “Because I was horny and I felt like it.”
Last year, Kim opened up about her decision to tackle the “elephant in the room” so early on, admitting that she knew it was something that the show’s producers would “love.”
She told the Los Angeles Times: “I do think that, obviously, as producers, I'm sure they loved it. And loved [us] wanting to talk about the elephant in the room. I probably wouldn't have, unless it was for the show.”
Kim added: “Sometimes I feel like, 'OK, I know I should probably deal and get this over with. Someone's gonna ask me, so I might as well just go ahead and do it.’”
She went on to say that she felt as though talking about the tape on TV helped her family “deal with things” instead of “sweeping them under the rug.”
KUWTK’s executive producer, Farnaz Farjam, insisted that Kim “hated everything” about having to talk about the tape on camera, but they decided as a team that she should “jump in with both feet in the first episode” so that the audience could move past it and they could get on with the rest of the show.
“At the end of the day, I was always open and honest and wanted to share whatever I was going through. I wasn't gonna hold back,” Kim concluded.
This willingness to share definitely helped Keeping Up become the huge success that it was, and the platform also allowed Kim to carve a lucrative career for herself as both a celebrity and an entrepreneur.
In fact, through her various products — which include perfume, clothing, and makeup — Kim has become a billionaire and prides herself on her strong work ethic and the way that she has been able to utilize her reality TV career to become a business mogul.
And her entire family has worked their way up the ladder and achieved huge success with their many ventures. Hitting back at the repeated accusation that Kim and her sisters are just “famous for being famous,” Kim recently asserted that all of them had worked their “asses off” to get to where they are today.
Addressing the criticism, she told Variety: “Who gives a fuck. We focus on the positive. We work our asses off. If that’s what you think, then sorry. We just don’t have the energy for that. We don’t have to sing or dance or act; we get to live our lives — and hey, we made it. I don’t know what to tell you.”
But elsewhere in the same interview, which was released on Wednesday, Kim ruffled feathers when she was asked to offer advice to “women in business.”
Appearing alongside her sisters Kourtney and Khloé Kardashian, as well as Kris, Kim sternly replied: “I have the best advice for women in business. Get your fucking ass up and work. It seems like nobody wants to work these days.”
As her family nodded in agreement next to her, Kim went on: “You have to surround yourself with people that wanna work. Have a good work environment where everyone loves what they do, because you have one life. No toxic work environments.”
Just hours after the interview went live, a clip of that moment went viral — with Kim trending on social media as she was widely criticized for her “out of touch” and “offensive” remarks.
People did not take long to highlight the fact that although Kim had utilized her Keeping Up fame in the best possible way, she’d been given a pretty decent head start to become a successful woman in business having been born into immense privilege.
For those who aren’t aware, Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, and their brother, Rob, are the children of Robert Kardashian, a high-flying lawyer who was part of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” of attorneys in the ’90s.
The siblings were born and raised in a comfortable and wealthy household in Beverly Hills, with photos of Kim receiving a BMW from her dad on her 16th birthday resurfacing online in the wake of the backlash.
Actor and activist Jameela Jamil was among those to react to Kim’s comments, tweeting: “I think if you grew up in Beverly Hills with super successful parents in what was simply a smaller mansion… nobody needs to hear your thoughts on success/work ethic. This same 24 hours in the day shit is a nightmare. 99.9% of the world grew up with a VERY different 24 hours.”
Another reader wrote: “It’s probably true that the Kardashians work hard, and Kim seems to have the most hustle of the bunch. But to ignore the pre-career privilege — a famous, uber-rich father & vast LA network that included Paris Hilton at her peak of fame — is tone deaf at best, offensive at worst.”
A third pointed out: “It's easy to work hard when you work for pleasure rather than survival, when you're free to take a vacation or a mental health day whenever you like, without the worry of losing your home, or going hungry, or losing your children because you can't provide for them.”
But amid all of this arguably fair criticism of Kim not being aware of her own privilege, there have been hundreds of comments attempting to bring Kim down off the back of her infamous sex tape.
In fact, screenshots from the video are being circulated online alongside misogynistic captions that suggest that Kim is only successful because of the x-rated content.
This has prompted an important conversation about slut-shaming, especially as this is far from the first time that Kim’s tape has been brought up in a bid to humiliate her and discredit her achievements.
A screenshot from the tape was shared to a Reddit forum alongside the caption “The work she’s talking about,” prompting outrage from other users.
One person accused critics of jumping at any opportunity to bring up Kim’s sex tape, no matter how irrelevant it is to the wider conversation. “Kim (and the rest of the family) are certainly deserving of criticism. But a lot of you are using this as an opportunity to say some really terrible things,” they wrote.
“Why are you even here?” the user went on. “There’s a difference between rightfully criticizing someone for making incredibly tone-deaf comments versus slut-shaming, labeling someone as a ‘leech’ on society who has never done anything noteworthy, among a lot of other shitty comments.”
Someone else added: “I know that everyone is mad at Kim right now, but can we please not slut shame her and post her s3x tape on here, it is quite degrading. There are many ways to you critique Kim without mentioning her s3x tape everytime.”
“I agree. I’m not here for degrading or humiliating another woman in this way,” another person commented.
Over on Twitter, it was argued that people are well within their rights to be offended by Kim’s recent comments and hold her to account for being so “out of touch.” They went on to point out that the way that some critics are so quick to bring up Kim’s sex tape is rooted in misogyny.
“Shame Kim Kardashian for being impossibly rich and out of touch, but don't shame Kim Kardashian for a sex tape. Don't get lost in the sauce and turn a good point into a misogynistic one!” one tweet read.
Somebody else wrote: “It’s crazy that with the LONG list of things you could criticize Kim Kardashian for y’all always resort to slut shaming.” A third echoed: “Just a reminder that you can disagree with Kim Kardashian and recognize she’s tone deaf and privileged without slut-shaming her.”
And another person asked: “Can you not criticize Kim Kardashian without slut shaming her?”
This is far from the first time that discourse surrounding Kim has been taken over by misogyny. Similarly nasty comments were made when she was held at gunpoint in a Paris robbery back in 2016.
Cruel trolls wasted no time in making jokes online about the traumatic incident despite Kim admitting that she'd feared for her life and was terrified that she’d be raped during her ordeal.
The problematic comments even come out when Kim is being praised, as demonstrated throughout her recent split from Kanye West.
As people watched on in horror while Kanye, who legally changed his name to Ye last year, launched a series of scathing public attacks on her and her new boyfriend, Pete Davidson, Kim remained poised and dignified.
In fact, she did not comment on the vast majority of what Ye said despite his repeated social media posts and song lyrics against her, which led to many people admitting to developing a “newfound respect” for Kim.
While this reaction begs the question why Kim wasn’t worthy of respect before Ye’s attacks, other social media users went so far as to say that they “hate” Ye for swaying their opinion of Kim.
One questionable tweet read: “I hate that Kanye is making me have mad respect for Kim Kardashian. Don’t make me feel these feelings!” Someone else wrote: “I dislike Kanye for a lot of reasons but I hate how he's somehow, against all odds, made me feel really bad for Kim Kardashian.”
Basically, it seems as though whether Kim is being criticized, praised, or is a genuine victim, she can’t escape the vilification that comes with being both a sexual and successful woman in the spotlight.
And while people are well within their rights to hold celebrities to account for the genuinely problematic things that they say or do, being in a sex tape certainly isn’t one of them.