In an interview with The Daily Beast Amber Rose questioned why Beyonce's semi nudity when performing on stage and in music videos was acceptable to the general public but both she and Kim Kardashian face intense slut shaming for their pasts as sex workers. The backlash was instantaneous. The Beyhive (Beyonce super fans for the uninitiated amongst you) swarmed her instagram with the obligatory 🐝🐝🐝 bee emojis awarded to anyone who falls short of the glory. To the Beyhive it was unfathomable that Amber Rose deign compare herself to the Queen! Even when she drew for the receipts, reminding The Hive that she herself was a carded member, the stings and vitriol kept coming.
"You dumb thot. The difference between you and Kim and Beyonce is Bey worked her ass off all her life to get where she is. You fucked Kanye and got put on. Don't you NEVER put yourself in the same box as Beyonce." -Mrs Never Not Fly, Instagram
Listen, there has been many a time when I have hopped my Beyonce loving ass over to Instagram and stung the shit out of a Beyonce naysayers' comments section. It's what I was taught growing up; anyone who speaks ill of King B must die the death of a million Bey stings. But this particular dragging seemed wrong. It bordered unfair and was a visa short of slipping into misogyny territory.
Amber Rose is right. Both she and Kim Kardashian are former sex workers. And deserve the same amount of respect and protection afforded to any woman, Beyoncé included. The celebration and pride a woman has over her sexuality and body is not for the public to collectively proclaim acceptable or unnacceptable based on their ability to sing or dance. The protection of women's bodies is a basic human right not a privilege determined by how many Grammy's you have.
More troubling to me than the slut shaming was this uncomfortable discourse that bubbled up on Twitter. My understanding was that some people felt as though comments Amber Rose had made about her race last year somehow meant that she was no longer worthy of our support as black women.
"Yasmin’s mixed raced!” I remember telling someone. We were 16 and I had recently met Yasmin in an English Lit class at college. I don’t remember why I said that, but I remember the look Yasmin gave me when she said “I’m not mixed raced, I’m black.” It was then that I realised I had made a terrible mistake, I had assumed because Yasmin was light skinned that she had to have one white parent and one black parent. My very basic, myopic understanding was dark skinned people were black and light skinned people were mixed raced or biracial. Yasmin corrected me that day, let me know emphatically that both her parents are black and I accepted and respected her explanation of her race. The respect I paid to my best friend clearly articulating her heritage must be extended to Amber Rose when in the above 2015 interview she let it be known
"I do not consider myself a black woman. Absolutely not….Bi-racial. I embrace everything that I am, I don’t feel like I’m more one thing, than the other."
Rose is not being disrespectful towards black people, the same way Yasmin was not being disrespectful to mixed raced people. Both examples are of two women correcting any misgivings of how they identify themselves and what their heritage is. This isn't Raven Symone deciding to ignore that race exists or Rachel Dolzeal choosing the race she wants to be. I cannot speak on whether Amber Rose's motive was an attempt to distance herself from blackness to seem more desirable. I would love to say I had the answer to that question, what I do know is her statement was a clear, concise answer to a question.
Le sigh. There is no woman on earth undeserving of the respect of not being called a slut or a whore regardless of her economic position. The Prophetess Missy Elliott taught us in the Book of Work It, Verse 3 "Girl, girl get that cash, if it's a 9-5 or shaking that ass. Ain't no shame ladies do your thang, just make sure you're ahead of the game." Amber Rose was speaking of classism and by the looks of the dragging she is still experiencing, we have a long way to go before equality is truly realised.
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