The Misconduct Of Kanye West

Kim Kardashian stands slightly in front of Kanye West for a formal photo call. She wears a blue satin dress. He is wearing a white shirt and a black jacket.
Shutterstock | 1092671

Tiara Winter-Schorr

Kanye West had it all: a beautiful family, a billion dollars, and a business empire that spanned music, fashion, film, and food. But as closely documented by the tabloid media, West has always had a darker side that threatens to undermine his success. Nowhere has this been more visible than in his marriage and subsequent divorce to Kim Kardashian, a billionaire business mogul in her own right.

While the specifics of the marriage remain private, the breakup has been painfully public and has become a proxy to discuss fame, race, mental illness, and domestic abuse. This article takes up a new lens with which to examine West's behavior toward his family: emotional intelligence. Keep scrolling for a deeper look at what EQ is, if Kanye has it, and what this means for his children's future, legacy, and well-being.

Emotional Intelligence: A Closer Look

Kayne West sits front row at a basketball game. He fills the frame and is wearing all black with high black leather books. Snacks and a beverage sit between his feet. He holds a phone in one hand.
Getty | Ronald Martinez

Over recent decades, much has been said about EQ over IQ and the benefits of balance. According to Harvard University, emotional intelligence'refers to the ability to identify and regulate our own emotions, recognize the feelings of other people and feel empathy toward them, and use these abilities to communicate effectively and build healthy, productive relationships with others.'

The main components of EQ are self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and conflict management skills. So, is this all Kanye is missing? Is it all about emotional self-regulation? The answer is complicated.

While much of Kanye's recent bizarre behavior toward his ex-wife and children is rooted in an inability to self-regulate and a lack of emotional intelligence, there are many more layers to unravel.

Kanye's behavior toward Kardashian has been increasingly abusive and alarming; his patterns toward her and his daughters are deeply rooted in power, control, and sexuality. It is even more concerning that his bizarre behavior toward his ex-wife likely began during their marriage and spilled into their divorce.

The Dissolution Of A Family

Kim Kardashian walks with one child in her arms and one by each side. North is to her left and Saint is to her right. She is carrying Chicago.
Getty | Robert Kamau

When Kardashian filed for divorce in February of 2021, it came at a time when fans were abuzz with gossip about the deteriorating marriage. There were rumors of cheating and brief separations, a mental health intervention organized by Kardashian, a failed presidency bid by West, and several vitriolic tweet-storms by him directed at Kris Jenner and her family.

Paparazzi snapped photos of a fight between Kardashian and Kanye. Kardashian was sobbing and cowering while West appeared to rage at her. But divorce proceedings would bring no relief and peace for either of them.

West soon launched a campaign of harassment that included purchasing the house next door to Kardashian, encouraging violence against Pete Davidson, and refusing to take no for an answer.

Women's organizations such as Vera's House called him out as an abuser, making note of his troubling behaviors. He also launched public insults about Kardashian's mothering, accusing her of allowing North to have a TikTok account and to post there while wearing makeup. He later accused her of kidnapping their youngest daughter and banning him from her birthday party, although they had previously agreed to celebrate separately.

This is perhaps the most worrying aspect of West's behavior - his desire to control the narrative about who his ex-wife is and how the public perceives his daughter. He has made no mention of his sons, who also appear on social media and are at the center of visitation disputes. One could assert that here is where his misogyny makes itself seen, in his insistence on keeping control of his ex-wife and daughter's bodies.

Although Kardashian leads a privileged life, it is important to remember that luxury and abuse can exist side-by-side. Abuse by an intimate partner affects women of all social classes, races, and religions. While she has more resources at her disposal than the average woman, the emotional effects of abuse remain the same for her and her children.

According to the World Health Organization, children raised in families that suffer from abuse and violence have a much higher rate of emotional and behavioral disturbances. In waging war against his ex, he also undermines his ability to be a supportive father who can co-parent successfully.

Because Kardashian has often wielded her celebrity status in a problematic manner, her situation has become the subject of memes and jokes. Regardless of how one judges her, it is hard to argue that West's behavior is healthy for his children.

'Counsel, Don't Cancel': Trevor Noah And Other Celebs Speak Out

A Close up photo of Trevor Noah, who is wearing a black shirt and a dark grey jacket.
Shutterstock | 3586184

West's erratic and bizarre online behaviors sparked an outcry among his peers. Celebs such as Christina Ricci, Trevor Noah, and D.L. Hughley have spoken out against his harassment.

Hughley, who has also been the subject of controversy, ended up being the target of yet another threat leveled by Kanye, who said he 'could afford to hurt' him. After Noah's comments likening West's behavior to abuse, West took to Instagram to hurl a racial slur at him in retaliation.

Instagram swiftly took action and temporarily banned him, and he was removed from the performance line-up at the upcoming 2022 Grammy awards. A slew of articles flooded the Internet, condemning his behavior.

It seems as though West is fast joining the ranks of canceled celebrities. But Noah spoke out again, saying he wanted to see West 'counseled, not cancelled'. His comments bring up the question of whether West is teachable; however, others have spoken out about the role of mental illness and West's need for psychiatric help.

But it would be unfair to blame West's past struggles with mental illness, mostly because mental illness does not necessarily cause someone to flagrantly harass their ex. His inability to respect Kardashian's boundaries is a matter of learned behavior, as is most of his posturing, bravado, and threats.

Higher Education: A Better Way Forward

Kanye West wears a white shirt and holds one of his daughters. Photo is cropped at the waist.

Everything hangs in the balance for West: his relationship with his children, public reputation, and future. He blew through a romance with Julia Fox, who later admitted that he told her he wanted media attention. His divorce continues to become more hostile, although he recently made an attempt to take responsibility in an Instagram post by reminding people that he is still learning and working on his communication skills. He has since deleted the post.

Nothing about West's recent behavior suggests that he understands what emotional intelligence is or how to develop it. But he sometimes shows a willingness to learn and grow, and perhaps to unlearn his toxic patterns - to let go of his miseducation while embracing higher learning.

Much of what he has said and done shows a stunning lack of empathy, and whether empathy can be taught is the subject of much debate. But while emotional intelligence can't cure everything, it could offer West a type of self-awareness that could slowly heal his relationships and his peace of mind.