Many people have an idea of what a “good feminist” should look like. Apparently, Amber Rose doesn’t fit those standards.
Is it because she’s a black woman? Is it because she’s a former stripper, or because she posts racy self-portraits of herself on Instagram? All of these things are true about Rose, but none of them should undermine her as a feminist. She stuck up for her friend, Blac Chyna, when the star was criticized for being a mother that still dresses provocatively, and she encouraged other women to stop the hate as well. She’s hosted a panel on Larry King, in which she discussed sexual assault and the importance of teaching young people about consent. This past October, she organized the Amber Rose Slut Walk, in which she raised awareness of the injustices that come along with victim blaming, slut shaming, and gender inequality. She’s even started her own foundation, with the goal of empowering women and getting rid of “sexual violence, victim blaming, derogatory labels, and gender inequality.”
Why then do people still refuse to take Rose seriously as a feminist? I think it’s because she intimidates people. People are afraid of her transparency about her stripper past, people are afraid of women of color that are brave enough to speak out about injustice, and people are afraid of women who refuse to censor themselves when it comes to sex and sexuality. People are comfortable with a more palatable, refined version of feminism in celebrities; women that encourage girl power, but not too much; women who preach #freethenipple, but not much else. This is the feminism that’s easy to swallow, the feminism that doesn’t challenge the public’s idea of how the most marginalized women (trans women, sex workers, women of color, etc.) should be treated. Rose’s Slut Walk was all about putting those women at the forefront; the event’s description even said, “we are actively working to center these groups in this event.”
Rose is not afraid to address the grittier parts of feminism that so many celebrities shy away from, often due to fear of the public criticism it inevitably garners. Rose has endured that backlash, and she (and her mother) have continued to fight back. She’s continued standing up for strippers and even put a confident and hilarious spin on the “walk of shame.”
I usually find it weird when people idolize celebrities, but I truly admire Rose for her honesty, inclusivity, and humor. Like pretty much all women, I’ve been criticized heavily for plenty of choices I’ve made, choices that probably would have been ignored had they been made by a man. I’ve heard nasty assumptions and rumors about myself based on the way I look, usually spoken in the same sentence as a lewd compliment. I’ve let those comments get me down before, but now I just roll my eyes, move on, and keep encouraging the people around me to end that type of negativity. Amber Rose seems to be on a similar, larger-scale crusade. She might not be your traditional feminist role model, but she definitely is mine.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.