Forget Taylor Swift. Lena Dunham, who? The pop culture feminist of my dreams is none other than Amber Rose. This weekend, the model – who initially captured fame’s attention as the shorn-headed girlfriend of Kanye West – hosted Amber Rose SlutWalk in Los Angeles, her very public response to the slut-shaming she and other women have faced. Based on the original SlutWalk, which launched in direct response to an incident where a rape victim was shamed and blamed for her assault because of her attire, this event was sort of Amber’s feminist coming out party, but she’s been spouting gems about female empowerment for years. I fucking LOVE Amber Rose, y’all. I could go on and on about all the reasons why she is the ultimate bad bitch (don’t worry, that’s also in the name of her upcoming book) and new feminist icon, so you know what? I’M GOING TO.
1. She is genuine in her support of other women and encourages fostering positivity over dwelling on insecurity and jealousy. “When you see a beautiful woman, compliment her… even if you feel insecure,” Rose once advised. “Do it! You’ll feel good.” And she’s right! It’s easy when you’re feeling down on yourself to look at others who seemingly possess what you don’t — looks, money, fame, success, talent, whatever — and to sort of resent them for it. Within the realm of female relationships, this kind of jealousy only keeps us all down. “It’s important for women like myself to put that out there and let other women know that it’s okay to embrace other women’s beauty and sexuality,” she told Cosmo. Hell yes.
2. She doesn’t let white supremacy or the patriarchy dictate what kind of behavior is okay. Rose briefly started stripping at age 15 — out of necessity, mind you, as her family needed the income — and then started stripping regularly when she was of legal age. Her prior history as a stripper has been at the center of much of the slut-shaming she has endured from trolls on Twitter, to various boyfriends, to some of her more famous foes — and it hasn’t escaped her notice that society looks down on certain types of sex workers more than others. In an interview with Curve back in 2011, Rose said:
“This one time I was Milan and I’m literally around multi-millionaires and billionaires at this dinner and Dita Von Teese gets on stage and she gets buck naked and she spins around in a big martini glass and everyone clapped for her. And it’s bullshit. It’s not fair that it’s OK for her to do it because she doing it for rich white people but you know I was in like, the hood, and I did what I had to do to survive… and I constantly get ridiculed.”
She’s right. Dita Von Teese strips for a living — nothin’ wrong with that! — but calls it “burlesque” and is rewarded with lingerie lines and a modeling contract with MAC, while Amber Rose does the same, albeit in less “fancy” settings, and she’s treated like trash. And she ain’t havin’ that.
3. She doesn’t take cheap shots at those who take cheap shots at her. Among those who have mocked her for her stripper past? Kanye West and his new Kardashian family. First, Kanye famously said that he had to take “30 showers” after dating Amber before he could get together with Kim, a bullshit low blow that Rose’s equally badass mother Dorothy mocked by holding this sign at SlutWalk over the weekend:
While Amber Rose responded on Twitter by laughing that Kim had let “Ray J nut on her,” the goal wasn’t to demean Kim for her prior sexual history or the sex tape that made her famous, but to point out the hypocrisy of Kanye’s diss. Later, she explained that she has nothing but respect for Kim’s come up.
“I never ever hated on [Kim’s sex tape],” she said. “I’m all for a woman making something out of nothing. You know what I mean? If you can do something and bring your entire family on and make millions of dollars, that’s dope to me. I love that.”
4. She isn’t afraid to call out men for abusing their power. So, about that Tyga and Kylie Jenner thing. Amber is good pals with Blac Chyna, who dated Tyga right before he got with Kylie and is the mother of his child. Back in February, when Kylie was still technically underage (she and Tyga have definitely been together since before it was legal), Amber told NYC’s Power 105.1, “Kylie’s a baby. She needs to go to bed at 7 o’clock and relax. Tyga should be ashamed of himself.”
Now, call me crazy, but Amber Rose shouldn’t have to be the one calling out a gross 25-year-old man for sleeping with a high schooler — her sisters should be doing it. Instead, Khloe went straight for Amber’s stripper past once again, saying she shouldn’t throw stones from glass houses. Because stripping is the same thing as fucking a minor, I guess? Whatever, Khloe.
5. She is unapologetic about who she is and what she’s done. Another person who has tried to cut Amber down by using her stripper past against her? Her on again/off again boyfriend Wiz Khalifa, with whom she has a young son. These two used to seem so in love, but when they broke up — Amber apparently busted him cheating with twins — he wrote a song about her that referred to her being “just a stripper.” Even if Amber Rose was “just” a stripper, that’s a hell of a lot better than being a man who profits off trash-talking his son’s mother.
Besides, anyone who thinks calling Amber a “stripper” is an insult says so much more about them than it does her. Not that she cares. “I just stopped giving a fuck about what people say,” Rose has said. “One day, I just woke up and I was like, ‘You know what? I can’t sit around and stress anymore about the Internet and what people say about me. I just gotta do me.’” And doing her is what Amber Rose does best.
6. She is compassionate and forgiving, even towards those who have not earned it. At SlutWalk this past weekend, during which she held a sign that read “Strippers have feelings too,” Rose broke down in tears as she spoke about the awful things her exes have said about her — and then offered her forgiveness to both of them.
“I want to forgive Kanye for what he said about me,” Amber said. “I want to let all that negativity go.” Regarding Wiz, she explained, “He came out with that song and that really hurt me because all I did was ever love him. I just loved him so much and gave him a beautiful son and to be told that I was nothing but a stripper, um, it hurt.”
“I also forgive Wiz for what he said. Wiz actually apologized to me already, so I have forgiven him,” she continued, speaking directly to the crowd. “I suggest that you guys do the same and I’ll tell you why. Because you can’t … they’re ignorant at times, people are ignorant and you have to be the bigger person and be the positive person to forgive and move on and help other people around you that have been through the same thing.”
7. She uses social media to taunt her haters by reclaiming the slurs they’d like to use against her. “Be strong and you know, just hit ‘em back,” Rose advised in an interview. “Especially on social media, hit ‘em back with something positive and with facts, instead of arguing. Really understand that we are humans, that we are allowed to be sexual beings. That anything a man can do, we can do. We’re very smart. We’re just as smart as a man.” For example:
@lilduval Lol 😂😂😂 ur mad af. #HoesBeWinning
— Amber Rose (@DaRealAmberRose) October 4, 2015
U Guys Love Slut Shaming Huh? Good. I feed off that shit. #HowtobeAbadBitch 💋 pic.twitter.com/RnxcF7gUcp
— Amber Rose (@DaRealAmberRose) March 7, 2015
She has reclaimed words like “thot,” “whore” and “gold digger” and routinely uses them mockingly on her Instagram feed. Amber is intimately familiar with the contradictory messages that tell women they must be sexy, while at the same time shaming them for it. After all, strip clubs don’t stay open on their own and Wiz and Kanye were both happy to be dating “just a stripper” — until they weren’t. Not to mention, the idea that any woman who dates a famous man must be a gold digger is pervasive, regardless of whether she pays her own bills, as Amber does. Words like “gold digger,” “THOT” (which stands for “that ho over there” or “that ho on Twitter”), whore and slut are flung at women for any infraction, especially on social media — so Amber cuts that shit off at the pass, by using those words as hashtags on her own Instagram posts, reclaiming them for herself so they can’t be used as insults. That’s fucking rad.
9. She refused to just be someone’s muse. Kanye West has said that if it wasn’t for him, “there would be no Amber Rose.” He’s not incorrect in the sense that Amber first captured attention as his girlfriend — but she took that ball and ran with it, garnering more media attention than the average rapper’s girlfriend thanks to her distinctive look. These days, many years post-Kanye, she is arguably even more famous, and on her own merit. Her book, How To Be A Bad Bitch, will be released by Simon & Schuster later this month, she’s being managed by Mariah Carey’s ex Nick Cannon, and she has a role in the upcoming “Zoolander” sequel. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
10. She’s an adamant supporter of gay rights. But more importantly, in extending her 15 minutes of fame into a full blown career, Amber has found an opportunity to spread awareness about issues that are incredibly important to her. She’s a longtime supporter of LGBTQ issues, and identifies as bisexual herself.
“I believe that you can love anyone,” she has said. “I’ve had relationships with women, I’ve had relationships with men. I don’t think you should be judged based on who you find attractive.” In another interview, she emphasized:
“I’ve always been the type of person who’s non-judgmental. I always picked up for the gay kids in school. When I got into high school I wasn’t really the dork anymore, I got kind of popular. But I used to be a dork so when I’d see kids making fun of gay kids or nerds or kids that were overweight I just kind of stepped in. I just feel like you can love anyone. It’s not against God. I think that God makes all of us individuals and he makes us who we are and I just believe that love is love, you know?”
11. She uses her platform to spread a strong, positive feminist message and to advocate for women and girls. Which brings me back to SlutWalk this past weekend. Amber Rose took the mountains of online harassment and cruelty she has experienced at the hands of supposed loved ones and total strangers and turned it into something positive, hosting her own SlutWalk event and inviting women from all walks of life to join her in standing against sexual harassment, violence, rape, slut-shaming and sex worker discrimination. And while she used her name to draw attention to the event, she was mindful about educating herself on the origins of the SlutWalk movement and giving credit to the founders in interviews in advance of the event.
“It seems as though the authorities and men would blame the women, basically insinuating that they wanted to get touched because they had on a short skirt or they had a bra top — that they were asking for it,” Rose said in a recent interview. “I know from personally having male friends, there would be a girl in the club that was maybe dancing very sexy and she had a short skirt, and they would be like, ‘She’s DTF. She’s ready to go.’ And I’m like, ‘Maybe she’s just having fun with her friends and she doesn’t like you and she doesn’t want to have sex with you.’ But usually, men — and women, also — would look at a girl like that and assume that she was not just having a good time.”
Over the course of her time in the spotlight, Amber Rose has been an advocate for women and girls, has been vocal about not being ashamed of expressing herself sexually and has been abundantly clear in her message that how a woman dresses and what she does for a living does not give anyone the right to her body without consent.
“I like to dress provocative. I’m happy about my body. I work very hard at my body,” she once said. “And if I wear my cleavage out or I wear a short skirt, it does not mean I’m going to go have an orgy in the next five minutes. I could go be picking up my son or going out to eat, or whatever the case may be. It’s my body, it’s my choice, I can wear what I want, and it doesn’t mean I want you to touch me.”
Preach, Muva, preachhhh!
Original by Amelia McDonell-Parry