Being a Kanye West defender in 2015 is a thankless task. Yeezy makes it hard: he’s frequently offensive and (I’m told) deeply unlikable. He’s been called arrogant, narcissistic, materialistic, pretentious, rude, insensitive, and insane. But this is exactly why I like him.
Kanye West keeps making points that are more or less correct. But to avoid engaging with those points, the media draws focus onto his personality. We call him a crazy man so that we don’t have to hear what he’s saying.
Kanye can mess up. Feminism, particularly, tends to be something he stumbles over. While he very vocally defends Kim and Beyonce from all critics, he also portrays women in his songs as sexual territory to be claimed in battles between men (“I’ll fuck your Hampton spouse / come on her Hampton blouse,” etcetera). His most recent comments about his ex, model Amber Rose, are a good example of how Kanye can slut-shame and objectify with the worst of them. I should be outraged. I am disappointed. But where some may see irredeemable misogyny, I see something more like human complexity. Admittedly, being a white woman flavors my reactions. As a man of color, Kanye is both privileged and oppressed.
If you are political in public, you too will experience some tiny fraction of what it is to be Kanye. Everyone who writes about oppression online knows the baiting, the casual abuse, and the desire for something your enemies can use to craft an unflattering narrative. Feminists online are subjected to such harassment that many are beginning to retire. You know who hasn’t retired? Kanye West has never once been shut up by public disapproval, although the public has disapproved of him, loudly, for over a decade.