How Feminist Amber Rose’s SlutWalk Just Stepped Up The Fight Against Slut-Shaming

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Making good on her promise as a newly declared feminist, model and activist Amber Rose held her first SlutWalk event in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 3rd. She has been promoting it on social media and talking about it in various interviews, but her most powerful statement about the event was made at the recent MTV VMAs where she turned up on the red carpet in an outfit littered with slurs and hateful comments given to her during her career.

From being known as the former girlfriend of Kanye West who unashamedly posts pictures of her body on Instagram knowing full well she will receive plenty of backlash, it seems it has all been part of her bigger plan to combat slut-shaming. Yep, this feminist is wasting no time fighting for a cause that is very personal to her, and we love it!

The whole idea behind the slutwalk is to protest the harmful ideals and comments flung at women for the choices they make about their bodies. All throughout human history women’s bodies and appearances have been controlled by misogynistic and patriarchal systems designed to keep us in our place. Now that we are living in the 21st century where women have the power to make their own choices, it has sadly garnered a lot of backlash from both men and women, young and old.

“I decided to have this SlutWalk for women that have been through shit. And even though I’m up here crying, I want to be the strong person you guys can look up to. I want to let all of that negativity go,” said Amber in a speech during the event.

But in order for feminism to challenge the way women’s bodies and sexuality is being controlled systemically, it has to experience some sort of push back as has every major feminist fight throughout history (the right to vote, to own property, to work, to be elected to public office etc).

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Amber’s first ever SlutWalk (she plans to hold more around the country as she gathers support and momentum) specifically speaks to the culture of rape and sexual violence that is extremely pervasive in a number of ways, and has gone unchecked for so long. The idea that women are responsible for being raped because of their choice of outfit, rather than teaching men not to rape, is what the event is all about. Sharing healthy ideas of sexual consent is is very important.

People magazine reports that the movement came about after a police officer’s 2011 comment that if women didn’t want to be raped, they shouldn’t dress “like sluts.” Amber particularly feels strongly about her message as she has been the target of slut-shaming because of her past being a stripper (coz ya know, no one else has a past!) and specifically for something horrible her ex Kanye West said about her in an interview.

“It’s very hard for a woman to want to be with someone that was with Amber Rose … I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim [Kardashian], ” he said, which prompted Amber and the many that joined her in Los Angeles to hold up signs saying “F**k Yo 30 Showers!” as a direct challenge to the way women are told they are unworthy, while men are held up as heroes, when it comes to sexual choices.

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Present at the event were celebrities like Nick Cannon, Matt McGorry, Michele Trachtenberg, and plus size model Tess Holliday who is no stranger to body shaming, as a size 22 model who is now working for brands such as H&M and JC Penney. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we felt it was very important to share about what Amber is doing with her movement as slut-shaming is something that affects a LOT of women.

Whether you have ever been told your outfit is inappropriate because it makes men gawk at you, whether you are a high school student shamed for her outfit choice, or simply a woman minding her own business and thinking she has the right to dress according to her own style and not feel the need to worry about whether it will invite any form of sexual assault.

“I deal with it every day. I deal with it via social media. People out on the street. They don’t quite understand why I post what I post and how I speak on social media. I’m sick of it and I’m here for my girls and we’re gonna do the Amber Rose Slut Walk this summer and it’s gonna be awesome,” said the model to the crowd in attendance (video of her speech below).

It is a controversial subject, but here’s hoping one day it won’t be. In the media and entertainment, it is important we see more and more women speak up about bodies and sexuality in a way that is empowering. For so long the female form has been controlled by men in film, TV, fashion, music and advertising. We are so used to seeing women’s bodies being used as powerless sex objects, and portrayed in a very narrow manner.

All of a sudden we are seeing celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga and Beyonce make empowered choices about their outfits and appearances which don’t necessarily conform to the existing standards, and the world goes into hyperdrive. We even admit, as a media site, we have unfortunately played a part in damning the actions of people like Miley without understanding the bigger picture.

Now we are huge champions of Miley, Nicki Minaj (another artist who has gotten major backlash for the way she positions her body in public spaces) because they have each said some very important and intelligent things about why they choose to go against the grain and make bold choices when it comes to their bodies. It is going to take time for our modern societies to understand the need for women to determine their own narratives, especially when it comes to sexuality and how they are perceived publicly.

Which is why movements like Amber’s, as well as Free The Nipple, have gained so much attention for the bold way they are challenging the status quo in an attempt to free and empower women to make their own choices without being shamed.

In September, telecommunications company Rebtel held an event in the middle of Times Square, New York City, dedicated to opening the dialog about feminism and how we view women’s bodies. They gathered a whole bunch of nude Bollywood dancers, covered only in body paint, to parade through the international tourist mecca to get people, and the media, talking more openly about this issue. They were inspired by Free The Nipple, and thought using art and dance would be a great way to share a powerful message.

They too wanted to challenge the unfair sexist standards and point out how pervasive they still are.

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“Our dancers were wearing body paint and thongs, just as the Naked Cowboy in Times Square has been for some years now. It is legal in New York City for women to be topless, just as it is for men. For years, free-spirited public figures have been widely celebrated in Times Square. So with the years of the public adoring the Naked Cowboy, Rebtel pondered the question, why the double standard concerning female nudity?” asked the company in a press release.

Rebtel specifically caters to Indian customers, and they want to challenge the strict conservative mindset toward women, as well as chip away at the epidemic of gender-based violence due in part to these repressive cultural boundaries.

“We believe in breaking down barriers. Since this is a conversation that needs to be had and thoroughly explored, we felt that it was the perfect opportunity to start a dialogue with the Indian community. Though India is a traditionally conservative country, it is going through rapid social progress and the timing seemed ideal to raise the issue of female body rights,” the statement said.

The idea of the “stunt”, as some in the media called it, was to go beyond the cultural norms expected of females.

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When we see events like Amber Rose’s SlutWalk, a Free The Nipple demonstration, and now the Rebtel Times Square dance, we have to ask ourselves, especially as women, “do we immediately get offended at the sight of female nudity?” and then follow that up with “why?”. If we don’t allow our own ingrained thoughts about women’s bodies to be challenged, how will societal and cultural change ever happen? How can half the world’s population truly be empowered when there are areas we are still told to confine conform?

We know many of you may have mixed feelings about this, but more than anything we hope it will at least open up some sort of a discussion about women’s bodies and sexuality. Are we OK with being defined by a system, or do we truly believe in the power to create our own definitions, narratives and norms?

If you want to donate to Amber’s SlutWalk event on her GoFundMe page, you can do so here. The money raised goes toward on-site HIV testing, sexual awareness booths, food vendors, merchandise vendors and a host of other services offered throughout future events.

In the meantime, check out some behind-the-scenes action from the Rebtel Times Square Dance below:

3 Comments

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