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Kanye West's abuse of Kim Kardashian is abhorrent. It's not the first time he's done it.

Kanye West's Instagram account has become a spectacle.

In recent months, followers and lurkers have refreshed their feeds to find West's steady stream of posts, mostly related to his divorce from Kim Kardashian, his displeasure with parenting decisions being made about their children and Kardashian's new boyfriend, Pete Davidson.

Among them, West mocked Davidson's appearance, shared personal text messages publicly and encouraged his fans to "scream at the looser [sic] at the top of your lungs and say Kimye forever". He rapped about 'beating Davidson's ass' in a song and released a video depicting himself burying him alive. He has repeatedly called Davidson 'Skete', a nickname referring to slang for a sex act.

West has been adamant online that Davidson will never meet his four kids. He has claimed multiple times that he 'wants his family back', all while dating other people himself (and ignoring Kardashian's insistence that the relationship is really, truly, completely over.) When paparazzi captured Kardashian and Davidson on a date night, West publicly declared that he purchased the coat she was wearing.

It has been prolonged, public harassment.

And it's happened before.

West dated model Amber Rose for two years from 2008. They split in 2010, and both moved on with other people: Rose began dating rapper Wiz Khalifa in 2011, and West and Kardashian got together in 2012.

Even so, West often publicly disparaged his ex.

Amber Rose and Kim Kardashian in 2016. Image: Instagram @kimkardashian. 

In 2012, when she was pregnant with her and Khalifa's son Sebastian, West tweeted" "WIZ, I'M HAPPY FOR YOUR PREGNANCY. AMBER AIN'T GO NOTHING ON KIM DOE." In 2015, he suggested in an interview that he needed "30 showers" after being with Rose.

Rose has responded to West on social media throughout the years, and in a 2020 interview she was asked about his continued comments about her.

"He has picked on me for 10 years. He has bullied me for 10 years," she said. "That's what narcissists do." 

At the time, West had recently compared her to a prostitute at a political rally.

"He just called me a prostitute at his rally, and like, it's 10 years later, just leave me alone. I don't bother you, I don't talk about you," Rose said.

In January 2016, Khalifa tweeted his disapproval of West's decision to change his album name to 'Waves' (which he later changed again), and shared a post referencing 'kk', which was in relation to his brand of weed. West, however, took it to mean his then-wife, Kardashian.

In response, West fired off a barrage of tweets towards Khalifa, who had split from Rose in 2014.

"You wouldn't have a child if it wasn't for me," West said in one tweet. "You let a stripper trap you," read another. "You own waves???? I own your child!!!!!"

"Oh ****** must think I'm not petty cause I'm the best that's ever made music," he said, adding, "Like, oh that's Ye and I can put his wife's initials on my Twitter."

It was a misunderstanding of epic proportions. Khalifa tried to clarify, writing "KK is weed fool", but it did little to stop the beginning of the one-sided feud, which resulted in over two dozen angry tweets.

The great irony was that in calling out a man who - in his mind, at least - disrespected his wife, West fired off shots at another woman, their mutual ex and the mother of Khalifa's child, Rose.

Throughout the rant, he denigrated sex work, their son, and mocked Wiz's body shape. He took 'ownership' over their child, presumably just because he and Rose dated first. He referred to himself as the "OG" and greatest ever, demanding respect and insinuating that because of this he was above reproach.

Rose was not surprised. It was a continuation of the behaviour she had been subject to for years now - both publicly and in private. 

Unlike her, Kardashian has so far remained low key in her public responses to West's antics. In a Vogue profile, she spoke of co-parenting.

"You could be so hurt or angry at your ex, but I think in front of the kids, it always has to be 'Your dad's the best'. Make sure you are your co-parent's biggest cheerleader, no matter what you're personally going through," she said.

In addressing the earliest of his Instagram posts, she responded: "Divorce is difficult enough on our children and Kanye's obsession with trying to control and manipulate our situation so negatively and publicly is only causing further pain for all. She reiterated her wish that "all matters regarding our children" remain private. 

There is a clear pattern to West's behaviour. And this is without even discussing his highly public attempts at taking down others in the industry, like Taylor Swift and most recently, Billie Eilish.

It is crucial to state that West's behaviour towards Kardashian and Davidson is not okay. The posts he has shared on Instagram are manipulative, intimidating and harassing. These actions should not, under any circumstances, be enabled or taken lightly.

Image: Getty. 

The conversation surrounding West and his behaviour is understandably complicated. The fact that he lives with bipolar disorder is unavoidable and adds to the need for nuance.

Mental illness also does not condone or excuse this behaviour.

Yet West has continued to get away with it - and even excused for his actions - not just in recent weeks, but for years. As we have seen time and time again, it seems that we can easily explain away or look past bad behaviour if the one doing it creates art we enjoy.

Throughout his 'feuds', West has continually banked on the fact that he is a genius. The GOAT. An OG. Whatever the term, he believes he is the most important musician of all time. Risky behaviour and grandiose beliefs about one's talents, abilities or purpose are not uncommon in manic states, and many have associated West's recent behaviour with this - although his championing of himself has been a theme throughout this career, long before his 2016 diagnosis.

The conversation becomes even more murky because has a point. He is a musical genius, an artist whose impact on the industry touches all corners; from production to lyrical content to contracts and how music is disseminated. He is not afraid to pushback on industry norms, hierarchies and leaders in a way most artists could never, or would not dare to for fear of blacklisting.

West is extremely important and influential within music, business and pop culture more broadly. But, like in comments such as "I am your OG and I will be respected as such" towards Khalifa, West positions this as a reason he is above criticism or reproach. It isn't - or shouldn't be - the case.

What all the laughs and excuses miss is that his actions are not harmless. There are real people at the other end of his words - people who, like Rose, have felt bullied for a long time. And there are others watching who may take the lax responses from media and peers as an endorsement of similar behaviour.

Who knows what West's feelings and actions towards Kardashian (and perhaps still Davidson) will look like in 10 years time. But, if we look at the paths he has taken up to this point, it feels unlikely that he'll move on quietly.

The thing is: we can have an admiration for West, the artist. We can have empathy for West, the person. But we can - no, we must - also have criticism for West and his decades-long pattern of harassment.

Chelsea McLaughlin is Mamamia's Senior Entertainment Writer. For more pop culture takes, sarcasm and... cat content, you can follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia.

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