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From Pamela Anderson to Kim Kardashian, why sex tapes are still the ultimate form of slut-shaming


Kanye West, who Kim filed for divorce from in February 2021, inadvertently sparked renewed media interest in the sex tape during an interview with Jason Lee of Hollywood Unlocked, when he suggested that he’d stopped further explicit material of Kim and Ray Jay being leaked. 

He explained, “I went and got the laptop from Ray J myself that night […] I met this man at the airport, then got on a red-eye, came back [and] delivered it to her at 8 am in the morning.”

He added that Kim “cried when she saw it,” saying, “You know why she cried when she seen it on the laptop? [sic] Because it represents how much she’s been used,” the rapper said. “It represents how much people didn’t love her, and they just saw her as a commodity.”

A representative for Kim Kardashian told Entertainment Tonight, “Kim remains firm in her belief that there is no new second tape that exists. After 20 years, she truly wishes to move on from this chapter [and] focus instead on the positive things she continues to do as a mother, entrepreneur and advocate for justice reform.”

While Rob Lowe (and err, Colin Farrell, Hulk Hogan, and Kid Rock, who’ve also appeared in leaked sex tapes) has ultimately emerged unscathed from his sex tape scandal, this is not a luxury often afforded to women. 

In 2004, a sex tape of Paris Hilton and her then-boyfriend Rick Salomon was leaked to the internet, with Salomon later selling a longer version of the tape himself. As a result, Paris suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, telling Vanity Fair in April 2021: 

“It’s always there in the back of my mind. When it happened, people were so mean about it to me. The way that I was spoken about on nightly talk shows and the media, to see things with my family was just heartbreaking.

“I would be in tears every single day, I didn’t want to leave my house, I felt like my life was over.”

Paris continued, “It was a private experience between two people […] You love someone, you trust someone and to have your trust betrayed like that and for the whole world to be watching and laughing.

“It was even more hurtful to me to have these people think that I did this on purpose – that killed me.”

As Paris’s case shows, the sharing of sex tapes without consent can have a hugely detrimental impact on the victim’s mental health. It’s also classed as revenge porn. In the UK, it is currently illegal to share – or threaten to share – sexual content of a person without their consent.

Ultimately, our obsession with celebrity sex tapes is symptomatic of a society in which slut-shaming remains very much the norm.

The idea that Kim Kardashian (or Pamela Anderson, or Paris Hilton, etc.) doesn’t deserve her fame because she made a sex tape is also deeply whorephobic – a term used to describe hatred for and bias against sex workers. It’s something that OnlyFans creators have come up against time and time again, as they’re derided for daring to show their bodies to earn money. 

The potential existence of another sex tape of Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be newsworthy. As her rep mentions, Kim has long since established herself as a successful businesswoman and activist. And you know what? We don’t like it. It’s much easier for us to dismiss Kim as a Z-List celebrity, who owes her fame to a sex tape than it is to admit that she’s no-less deserving of our respect than any other celebrity. Say, for example, Rob Lowe.  

For more from Glamour UK’s Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.





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