I'm Done with People Asking Me About "My Brand" of Feminism

In an exclusive essay for MarieClaire.com, Amber Rose talks reclaiming the word "slut" and being shamed for her body.

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called a slut. From the time I was a young girl—even before I was sexually active—it was a label that was placed on me. As soon as I came into the public eye, I was immediately criticized for everything from my behavior to how I chose to dress. It was undoubtedly hurtful, and getting used to the harsh words I hear so often is still something I struggle with. The term “slut” never seemed to go away—in fact, I began to realize that I’d be called a slut whether I behaved according to other people's standards or not. So, I decided to take the power out of that word and reclaim it. I said f*ck it, hoe is life. But don’t get me wrong—this self-proclaimed hoe is a powerful woman and an unapologetic feminist.

I have a real problem with anyone who denies the need for feminism given today’s tense political climate. Somehow in 2017, we’ve elected a president who has no problem labeling women as “fat pigs” and “dogs.” The literal leader of this nation says it’s okay to grab women by the pussy if you're a man with power and influence. It’s as if he’s completely unaware of the very real risk of sexual assault women in America deal with each day. One in four American women are or will become victims of sexual assault. It’s simply ridiculous to deny that these statistics need to change.

"I can absolutely call myself a feminist and post a picture of my naked body."

One of the most popular criticisms of feminism is that, if women have made significant strides towards equality in years past, why can’t we just accept these advances and stop complaining? But this is just another attempt to silence women who speak out in the face of injustice. And how does society silence women? The same way it always has—through calling feminists crazy, belittling our claims, and praying every night that we’ll eventually shut up. Well, I refuse to shut up so long as it is still my legal right to speak. And using my platform to create a safe space for not just women, but all marginalized groups to exercise their freedom of speech, has been one of my greatest accomplishments.

I’ve gotten a lot of backlash from people who feel I can’t be taken seriously as an activist and feminist because the world has seen me with my clothes off. I think that’s a bunch of bullshit. I can absolutely call myself a feminist and post a picture of my naked body. In fact, as an intersectional feminist, I advocate for women from all walks of life and think that all women should be allowed to do whatever they want with their bodies.

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I also get a lot of media who ask me to comment on “my brand” of feminism, as if my goals differ so much from other popular feminists. I have to disagree with that take—I think separating women and categorizing brands of feminism takes away the power of solidarity—and solidarity is the biggest vehicle for change. My definition of feminism is simple: EQUALITY. It’s not having to base your entire existence around the old school, ultra-oppressive expectations men have for women.

All the men who claimed my nearly-nude nude Instagram picture wasn't empowering, and was instead just an attempt to seek attention, are likely the same men who claim victims of sexual assault are “asking for it” by wearing an outfit considered to be inappropriate. This oppressive way of thinking and victim-blaming is exactly what makes events like SlutWalk so necessary. This country loves to objectify female bodies—hell, our president loves to objectify female bodies!—but when a woman takes that power away and exposes herself, everyone freaks the f*ck out. Yes, we’ve made some progress in the past 100 years, but we're still living in a time where people think it’s impossible to embrace female sexuality and shun sexual violence towards women at the same time. I’m here to tell you that it’s not only possible, but necessary.

Amber Rose's third annual SlutWalk is taking place October 1 in Los Angeles. Find out more here, and head to The Amber Rose Foundation to learn more about Amber's work in feminism and women's rights.


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