In a lot of ways, Amber Rose is our modern-day Lady Godiva. Both women are known for their legendary feminine powers, and they both bare all for a cause — it’s just that instead of lower taxes for peasants, Rose’s cause is centering women’s sexuality. Instead of a noble lady with long, flowing hair and a horse, Rose is our bald-headed scallywag in a pink chrome Jeep.
As a model, actress, and entrepreneur, Rose could easily just focus on doing her job and watch the money roll in. Instead, she’s used her platform (and her naked body) to bring attention to the fight for gender equality in the form of The Amber Rose Slutwalk.
Slutwalk originally started in 2011 when a Toronto police officer responded to a series of sexual assaults by saying: “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." Immediately, women took to the streets wearing lingerie in protest of the officer’s backward assertion.
Now there are Slutwalks all over the world annually. Rose’s version returns to take over Los Angeles starting this Saturday, September 30, with a day-long conference in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Center for Feminist Research. Attendees will learn about “social justice, finances and sexism, and everything you need to know to be a part of affecting change,” Rose explains over the phone from Los Angeles. The protest march will take place Sunday.
The reason this cause means so much to Amber Rose is because she knows what it’s like to be slut-shamed very publicly, to be consistently ridiculed for daring to be sexy and use that to her advantage. “I know that I give women confidence, and in turn that makes me extremely happy. So I’m okay with taking all the punches and all the criticism and all the scrutiny because I’m strong enough to take it,” she says.
But there’s another reason she cares so much: her 4-year-old son, Sebastian. “I’m raising my son to be a feminist,” she says. “I hope his generation can look back on this time and just say, ‘Wow that’s bullshit. I can’t believe you had to protest that.’”
Over the phone, Muva is just as much fun as you’d think. She calls me honey and babe, and asks for feedback on her sign slogan for this year’s march. We talk about her biggest sex pet peeve (it's silence) and her biggest turn-on. (“I need to hear some grunts and groans, so I know I’m killin’ it.”) But we also dive into the first time she was ever called a slut, her feminist parenting philosophy, and why slut-shaming only gets worse when you become a mom. Keep reading for one of her most intimate interviews yet.
When was the first time you heard of Slutwalk as a movement, and what was going on in your life that made you want to get involved?
"During that time when I first started it, I was going through a lot in my life. I was going through a divorce. I was very heartbroken. I was a new parent. And I was constantly getting slut-shamed on the internet, which I really didn’t even know what slut-shaming was at that time.
"I remember I came across a picture of a girl, she was wearing pasties and it was written on her body, 'still not asking for it.' I just started searching more, like, Where did this photo come from? What the hell is a Slutwalk? I start reading up on it. I called my team and I said, you know what? I need to have a Slutwalk. I have to do this, for every woman that has ever been slut-shamed.
"Then I looked more into it and I learned about victim-blaming. I was like, What the fuck is victim-blaming? What is that? And then I was like, I can’t believe this is really happening. That has happened to me before! And then it was the double standards and being body-shamed. I remember being body-shamed after having my son. I was heavy for like a year. And I remember every other girl, they were skinny as hell in like three months. People were saying, 'Amber you’re fat. This girl’s skinny and she just had a baby. And you’re still fat.'"
So basically you just realized all these things you were experiencing, everyone else was experiencing them, too.
"Babe. Everything. I was literally just like, I need to have a Slutwalk. I called my team. I tweeted about it. And everyone thought I was crazy, but I got it together and I did it."
Can you remember the first time someone called you a slut?
"Yeah, I’ll never forget it. I actually spoke about it at my first Slutwalk. I cut school. I was in the sixth grade and I had never kissed a boy before. All my friends wanted to play Seven Minutes in Heaven. And I was like, This is my time. I’m finally gonna kiss a boy. And we went inside this closet, and he was like, 'Yo, just get on your knees.' I was a kid. I didn’t know. I didn’t even think about it. And so I was like, 'well, okay.'
"It was pitch black in the closet, and I got on my knees, and then he opened the door. And when he opened the door, all of my friends, they were just laughing at me because he had his penis out of his pants.
"I was on my knees. I looked over at him and I was like, 'What are you doing?' I still didn’t understand. And then I went to school and I was just the school slut. And I was just like, This can’t be my life. I literally didn’t do anything wrong!"
Were you upset? If you could go back, what would you say to yourself in that moment?
"Oh, I’m glad it happened. I’m so happy that it happened because that was actually when it all started. I didn’t realize that was the initial time in my life when I started battling against slut-shaming and double standards. It was bullshit. It was complete bullshit. It wasn’t even real life. It actually didn’t happen. But then I started thinking about, like, what if it did happen? What if I did do it? Why is that such a bad thing?"
The negative messages in our society about women are everywhere. It’s why we have this problem in the first place, it’s why we have this man in the white house who brags about sexually assaulting people, it’s why we have to have a Slutwalk. Do you try to shield Sebastian from these things in the news, or do you talk to him about it?
"I don’t hide things from my son. He is only 4-years-old. But even still, I talk to him about a lot of things. As far as women, one of the things I do is talk to him about my period. My son knows what a period is. It’s funny because we’ll literally be out at the grocery store, in the aisle, picking out cereal, and he’ll be like, 'Mommy are you bleeding? Do you need pads? Do you need tampons?' He’s 4-years-old. People will look at me like, what? How old is he?”
"But you know, I’m his mother. He sees me in the bathroom. I don’t hide anything from my baby. I think it’s really important because a lot of guys think that periods are gross. So I explain everything to him, when I have cramps or I don’t feel well. I don’t hide that from him.
"With politics and a lot of the things going on in the world, that’s hard for me to explain to him at such a young age. But definitely when he gets older, for sure, I’m not going to hide anything from my baby."
What do you think is the hardest part of being a mom today?
"I would say social media. There’s so much access to so many negative things. You have to really, really filter what your kids watch and see. My son likes to watch YouTube. He likes to watch, like, toy reviews and other kids playing with other toys. So one time I had set that up for him and I remember looking over, and this guy was cursing! It looked like it was a kids' video, but they were cursing in it. So I grabbed the iPad from him and I was like, 'Whoa, what are you watching?'
"And whatever, curse words are whatever, it’s not as big of a deal. But as he gets older and he really gets into school and high school, I can only imagine the issues. There’s cyberbullying and just the access to the negative things on the internet — it’s scary."
A lot of people talk about motherhood as completely life-changing. When you became a mother how did it shift your perspective on things, if at all?
"Do you have kids?"
"Okay, so, when you have a baby, it’s like you have a new friend in your life that you don’t know. But you love them. You love them so much cause they came from you and they look like you.
"You realize you are responsible for another human being. You can’t be selfish anymore. You have to work harder and think about your finances and how you spend money, and them going to college, and you’ll never, ever sleep again.
"You have bad dreams every single night about what possibly can go wrong with your baby. You think about your baby falling in the pool, or getting bullied at school, or saying something mean to them. You think about all the worst things. You’re in full protective mode every second of your life. Having kids is just full of anxiety, basically, is what I’m trying to say."
You’ve also been shamed for daring to be a mom and a sex icon. Why do you think people have such a problem with this?
"I don’t know. I think we need to teach our kids where they came from. They have to understand where they came from. This is why men slut-shame women so much, because they forget that their moms actually had sex to have them. They forget that they have brothers and sisters by different fathers. They don’t look at their moms as sexual beings. I always have to remind them when I go speak at colleges and stuff.
"Women are allowed to be sexual beings, at all points in our lives. It is okay. It’s actually very healthy for your kids, if you are a single mom, for your kids to see you date. It’s okay to date as a mom. You can’t just be unhappy, and not try to go and find love just because you have a child."
You started your career dancing and supporting your family. And now you’ve reached some success. Do you worry about Sebastian growing up totally different than you?
"You know he’s blessed. But he’s also gonna be very humble because his parents came from very humble beginnings. You know what’s crazy? I was actually a fan of Donald Trump before he ran for office because I remember seeing a documentary where he said something like, 'My kids can’t help that they grew up with money. But I make sure they do the right things, they go to school, they get the proper education, in order to work for my companies.' I was like huh, that’s actually true. That’s what I want for my kids. But then he ran for president and just fucked that all up.
"But still, I do want to do that for my son. I don’t want him to be so spoiled he doesn’t feel like he has to work for anything. I want him to be humble and treat people with respect.
"He’s not going to have to dance, but I think when he gets older, I think he’s gonna be like, 'Mom you were a dancer? That’s cool!' I’m gonna let him know what had to be done. Like I said, I don’t hide anything from my baby."
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about kids right now or not, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.