Kim Kardashian-West broke the internet again, not over a magazine cover, but for speaking out in favor of gun control. On Wednesday, Kim tweeted to her 46.1 million followers: “After Orlando, Congress hasn't done anything and now they're going on vacation. I say #NoBillNoBreak.”
The hashtag #NoBillNoBreak refers to a sit-in by House Democrats in an effort to demand action from Republicans on gun control. Launched by Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader and Democratic congressman from Georgia's fifth congressional district, the sit-in began Wednesday morning and concluded Thursday afternoon, CNN reports. It drew in 170 lawmakers and lasted more than 25 hours. Thursday morning, about a dozen House Democrats, including House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi were literally sitting on the House floor, sleepover style. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren even brought them Dunkin’ Donuts, and comedian and talk show host Samantha Bee offered to bring a Ouija board and a DVD of Dirty Dancing.
As Bee’s Tweet shows, Kardashian was certainly not the only celebrity to speak out in support of the sit-in; celebrities from Mark Ruffalo to Lin-Manuel Miranda cheered them on via social media. However, as the polarizing figure tends to do, Kardashian received some hate for speaking out in favor of the sit-in. While many supported her and even calling her a “Woke Queen,” others were quick to criticize Kardashian. “I say get out of politics and go take another selfie or butt crack picture,” wrote one user, one of many similarly hateful responses. She was also called out for speaking out in favor of gun control while having her own armed security. Casey, a 24-year-old woman living in Brooklyn tells Complex, “I think the backlash against it is ridiculous. There are all these people telling Kim off for having armed security while completely missing the point that gun control doesn't mean a ban on guns. And as for Kim having a place in this discussion? Fuck yeah she does.”
@KimKardashian I say get out of politics and go take another selfie or butt crack picture.— Debbie (@debbieebb) June 22, 2016
For some to imply that Kardashian doesn’t know what she’s talking about comes off as ignorant and misogynistic. Being a reality star who once upon a time made a sex tape doesn’t disqualify a woman from having a political opinion. Despite Kardashian continuing to act like a sex-positive feminist—like with her blog post after she infamously appeared topless on Instagram with “nothing to wear”—her fondness for selfies and expensive clothing (or lack of) continue to cause some to view her as a joke. Why is the public consistently unable to understand that women can be sexual and intelligent simultaneously? The two are not mutually exclusive.
In reality, Kardashian has a more impressive record than some congressmen on taking a stand against gun violence. After the Senate voted down a series of gun measures following the Pulse massacre, including strengthening background checks and preventing those on the terror watch list from purchasing guns, she tweeted: “So sad! The senate voted against background checks being needed to buy guns. So terrorists on fbi's wanted lists can legally still buy guns.” Last August, in response to the death of Valerie Jackson who was shot and killed by her ex, Kardashian tweeted: “My thoughts & prayers go out to Valerie Jackson's family and friends! #GunLawsHAVEtoChange #GunSafety #BackgroundChecksNecessary.”
So sad! The senate voted against background checks being needed to buy guns. So terrorists on fbi's wanted lists can legally still buy guns— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 21, 2016
Republicans, namely House Leader Paul Ryan, did their best to turn attention away from the Democrats’ sit-in by declaring an early holiday breakm calling the sit-in out of order, and off C-SPAN cameras. However, the public was still able to watch the spectacle as congress members live-streamed the sit-in from periscope and shared images on Twitter.
Kardashian may not have a vote in Congress, but on social media, she is queen. Kim has 46.1 million followers on Twitter. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, whose sit-in commentary Kim retweeted, only has 24.1 thousand followers. If you’re getting a manicure and turn to the woman next to you, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who knows Congresswoman Edwards. But Kim Kardashian is a guaranteed talking point. Her social currency is accepted everywhere—and the fact that she’s using it to speak about gun control is admirable. For some of her 40 million plus followers, it’s likely the first time they’ve heard how bonkers our government really is when it comes to gun control.
In our current political climate, it’s easy to be jaded and have a knee-jerk negative reaction towards celebrities giving their two cents over gun control. But people are dying. Children are being shot in schools while they’re just trying to learn, and LGBTQ community members are being shot while they’re just trying to dance. Now is the time for awareness, and now is not the time to stay silent. Kim used her massive platform to speak out against gun violence—is that more than you can say?