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Clap Back: Why I’m Here for Amber Rose and Black Women’s Sexual Agency - The Feminist Wire

Clap Back: Why I’m Here for Amber Rose and Black Women’s Sexual Agency

By Ashleigh Shackelford

amber-roseAfter hearing Kanye West’s comments in his interview on “The Breakfast Club,” where he spoke on his prior relationship with Amber Rose, I decided that I can no longer defend or support Black men who degrade Black women to uplift non-Black women. Kanye West has proven to be a problematic fave for most of us. From his IDGAF attitude to his ability to make powerful political and controversial statements unapologetically… From calling out white supremacy and award show politics (in defense of Beyonce’s very deserving album) to calling attention to the prison industrial complex and the profiting off of Black bodies in his song New Slaves… He is no longer someone that I can defend because it is too often that Kanye and other Black men use Black women (perceived and actual) as a punch line or as a benchmark for non-Black women’s worth.

1338580928_kanye-west-kim-kardashian-467In response to Amber Rose’s comments on Kylie Jenner and Tyga’s relationship, Kanye pulled out the misogynoir wild card by stripping Amber Rose of her autonomy, credibility, and worth by saying that her career was only because of the opportunity that he provided by dating her. Kanye goes on to say, “She’s just soaking in the moment. If Kim had dated me when I wanted, there would be no Amber Rose” (biggest eye-roll of the century). So not only is Kanye trying to convey that Amber Rose’s career and worthiness took off solely because of him, but that Amber was actually a stand-in for the woman of his dreams for the almost two-years they dated.

amber-rose-kanye-west-terry-richardson-4Amber Rose’s value is constantly attached to Kanye West’s career and what exposure his fame brought her as if a.) Kanye West never paraded Amber around while they were together by using her as a sexual prop for his own publicity (from public displays of tongue kissing on the red carpet to cuffing her ass like she was a sexual ornament), b.) Kanye West never dedicated songs et al. on his album to Amber (his shout outs at concerts and song references are the receipts), or c.) Kanye never had legitimate love for Amber Rose in those two years they spent together.

kanye_west_amber_roseWe can argue that Amber Rose would not have the same level of success without the access her relationship with Kanye provided but…wouldn’t the same rules apply to Kim Kardashian? Kim Kardashian’s career started off with the misogynistic consumerism of her body because of her sex tape with Ray J. Kim Kardashian’s career evolved due to her relationships with men more famous than her, but…primarily because she had a sex tape with Brandy’s little brother. So when did Amber Rose’s career path become a gold-digging joke but Kim’s career path praiseworthy? Furthermore, doesn’t Amber Rose’s entrepreneurship, intellect, and personality matter? Is Amber Rose not due credit for her trajectory because she’s actually a person outside of her relationship with Kanye West?

kanye-west-kim-kardashian-682x1024“It’s very hard for a woman to wanna be with someone that’s with Amber Rose,” Kanye stated. “I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim.” But in needing those 30 showers Kanye…did you ever consider the fact that Kim Kardashian’s sex tape and sexual exposure may make it difficult for someone to date/love/marry Kim? It begs the question: What makes Kim Kardashian so different from Amber Rose? Why is dating/sleeping with Amber Rose tarnishing or dirty but being with Kim is purifying (or at least requires purifying)? What makes Kim Kardashian wifey material and not Amber Rose? Why does Kim Kardashian get a pass for her sexual past but Amber Rose can never escape punishment for hers?

Kim dated Reggie Bush, Miles Austin, Chris Humphries, and Ray J – most of whom were more famous than her at the time they were dating. Her sex tape with Ray J is still making rounds on the internet. Kim has naked pictures leaked online. Kim had a child by Kanye West while still married to Chris Humphries. She has posed nude for magazines and fashion editorials. Kim has sex. She still poses nude and has sex while being a mother. Amber Rose has naked pictures online. She had her son before marrying Wiz Khalifa. Amber Rose posts twerking videos on her Instagram. But one of these women is not like the other. The only thing that separates Kim from Amber is [perceived] Blackness. And Black always makes the difference – in our autonomy, in our humanity, and in our sexual agency.

04_kanye_westAmber Rose cannot be virtuous, pure, or carefree. She is not given the right to twerk, date, fuck, or party and still be seen as a good mother (because respectable nuclear family boxes be damned still frame what’s good and what’s not…). Amber Rose is not given the license to be sexual and still be able to reach the levels of capitalistic and classist access to whiteness and palatability that Kim Kardashian can. Kim Kardashian being half Armenian does not negate her privilege and access to whiteness. Amber’s white-passing Blackness does not read as acceptable as Kim’s white passing presentation does. Amber Rose’s racial ambiguity does not strip her of being seen as Black, and therefore less than. Kim being a white-passing woman of color does not change the fact that Blackness is associated with hyper-sexuality, hypo-femininity, dirtiness, and worthlessness. Amber Rose is marked — she’s imagined as Black…the ho that you can never turn into a housewife. But Kim Kardashian is imagined as white (or at least white-passing)…a business woman that uses her sexual agency to create a successful empire.

1253034036_amber-rose-aAnd that Amber Rose is perceived as Black matters. We need to understand that Black women are not given the right to display, share, or present our bodies how we please. Black women are not given the right to body autonomy or sexual freedom. And there’s a loaded racist misogynistic capitalist history behind that and that has marginalized Black women to an extreme in which we’re always stuck between denying our sexuality to remain respectable or embracing our sexuality…and yes…being the ho’s society tells us we already are. It was our sex and bodies that made this capitalist system. To that end, it is a revolutionary act for Black women to claim our sexuality with agency — even where it is scripted in ho locution. Be clear: this goes beyond Amber Rose. Black women take and make our right.

I’m here for Amber — from her purposefully and mockingly hashtagging #Thot #Whore #assonfleek and #GoldDigger underneath her more revealing Instagram photos — terms which are meant to marginalize her right to exist and sexual autonomy. To her publicly addressing that she is not only still a great mother while twerking in the club…but a great person. But beyond and to include Amber (not as Black but as interpreted Blackness), Black women owning their bodily autonomy and demanding their humanity is not only radical and necessary, but as Black feminist Audre Lorde notes, an act of political warfare.

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Ashleigh Shackelford is a community organizer, pop culture enthusiast, and part-time blogger. She identifies as a queer Black fat femme woman and focuses her work on empowerment through body positivity with gender, sexuality, and race. She is a lead organizer for Black Action Now and creator of Free Figure Revolution. She graduated with her degree in Business Administration and Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University.

12 Comments

  1. lillian

    February 26, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Yes, Yes and Yes!!!!! This is simply brilliant. Thank you for this…

    I’m actually an Armenian woman arguing that this exact argument can be applied to the way Armenian men (often times from the diaspora) view Armenian women and the sort of behaviors that are appropriate for women of Armenian descent.

    There is a constant identity struggle for Armenian women; a struggle tied to religious and cultural history, as well as gender politics in today’s globalized world. Without digging too deep into the discourse and the various complex reasons behind why these double standard continue to exist, I would like note that time after time (Armenian) men excuse and justify “promiscuous” behavior by white Western/Anglo-Saxon women as a sign of freedom and female agency. These are the women who have control over their decision-making and carry the right to sexual and non-sexual independence, while Armenian women perhaps do not. This is the exact reason behind why Armenian women and men disregard, dismiss and disown Kim Kardashian and her family publicly. Now, let me be loud and clear that this is not to say that I am a Kardashian clan supporter, but my reasons behind my dislike are different. However, the argument I have made here applies as to why Kim Kardashian is also held to double standards, by men and women of Armenian backgrounds who would most likely applaud Western white celebrities for being innovative and driven when doing exactly what Kim has done, but since Kim carries the Armenian name she is therefore not.

    Armenian men, along with men of Middle Eastern descent continue to “chose” Anglo- Saxon women, whether it be the second generation Armenian men I personally grew up with in Scandinavia, or the newly arrived migrant workers in Russia that glorify “the Russian woman and her sex appeal”. Somehow the white Western woman’s sexual freedom is not problematic, yet the Armenian’s is.

    However, in the midst of this claim I would like to introduce a counter argument often times made by “old school” Armenians. This argument is the one that Armenian women should be held to different standards considering their cultural heritage and history. That the white women these men chose are props and only temporary. That eventually, when it comes down to marriage and settling down, Armenian men will inevitably chose the “pure” Armenian woman, that was brought up recognizing her true role in the household as an Armenian wife, sister and eventually mother. However, yet again this argument then becomes incredibly problematic to women as a whole because by praising the Armenian woman’s worth within this paradigm we then claim that the worth of the white (or non Armenian) women is less. Yet again, reinforcing the forced purity of the Armenian women and devaluing the collective equality of all women’s worth. (Similar to the argument made regarding Kanye insulting Miss. Rose only to praise and applaud his new wife.)

    Note to reader: I am speaking somewhat generally. I do understand that there are many Armenian men, along with Black men that do fit into this argument. Also, while my counter argument might seem hypocritical it is simply another layer I am attempting to expose within the discourse of cultural identify and global feminism.

  2. James

    February 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

    First lest clear this up; Amber Rose is a beautiful sexy and seductive woman and I would rate her over Kim Kardashian any day of the week. She displays confidence and courage rarely see in women these days. Now let’s get to the matter of the label that Black women put on black men. I think we can honestly same both have strayed and put up boundaries that make it hard for us to communicate. I think woman seek security financially often demanding it but fail to meet the same standards they demand. I find it hard to identify with sisters because they have forsaken the traditional Black women. Fake hair, bleached skin, I don’t need a man attitude, and have labeled brothers as being worthless. Black women don’t seek love anymore, They are looking for this factious life style and acceptance from white women who cold care less about them or the status they’ve obtain. Look Black are intrigued and captivate by Black woman and would love to have a relationship with a woman of the same race. But we do expect black women to bring not only her looks but her understand and not be culturally bias. Black women say they seek love but they normally fall in love with status before they fall in love with the man of there so call dream. you know you sole mate as they claim. Now the ordinary man does have a chance. You know the man that get’s up early every morning putting 10-12 hours and pouring love like the running of the river Nile and all he wants is the love that he truly married for. But often what he get’s is a woman who are not patience with his success. Black men move on because they are tired of being disrespected and unappreciated. And for the women who are going to snob their noses at this, just remember to be in love it take two. You might ask yourself; why does marriages in Hollywood etc. never last? If you desire to be loved, be real, be nature and be the women we seek.

  3. CocoaFly

    February 27, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Brilliant post! Thank you for writing this.

  4. Peace

    February 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Amber Rose is a white woman. The sad aspect is that many of you want to make her black. Sadder still is black women are so happy to make anyone black. We are not so lonely that we can’t see, right? When we were unpopular no one wanted to be black. Now that we have a black family in the white house and the whole world sees that we set the trends that people follow, everyone wants to be black and some of us sadly fall in line to give them passes. You are shaming a black man fro his treatment of a white woman while he is married to a white woman. Both women pretending to be black. So sad. Fact check next time please. Jeesh… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_Rose

    • Shane Oliveira

      February 28, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      @Peace: Actually, she is biracial. How about you get your facts straight: http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2015/01/is-she-even-black/

    • Kate

      March 1, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Before you try to come for the writer of this intelligent article, you might want to get your facts straight. The wikipedia article even says she’s biracial. “Her father is Irish and Italian and her mother is from Cape Verde.” Google image “Cape Verde women” and see what comes up.
      Stop making yourself look stupid.

  5. Brad

    February 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    It maybe a little unfair to cut out the following sentences because they become contextless. But, it’s worth pointing out that Kanye walks off scotch free. You know who loses? The woman who is being attacked to defend another woman (irrespective of race):

    “Kim Kardashian’s career started off with the misogynistic consumerism of her body because of her sex tape with Ray J. Kim Kardashian’s career evolved due to her relationships with men more famous than her, but…primarily because she had a sex tape with Brandy’s little brother.”

    “Kim Kardashian’s sex tape and sexual exposure may make it difficult for someone to date/love/marry Kim?”

    “Kim dated Reggie Bush, Miles Austin, Chris Humphries, and Ray J – most of whom were more famous than her at the time they were dating. Her sex tape with Ray J is still making rounds on the internet. Kim has naked pictures leaked online. Kim had a child by Kanye West while still married to Chris Humphries. She has posed nude for magazines and fashion editorials. Kim has sex. She still poses nude and has sex while being a mother.”

    “But Kim Kardashian is imagined as white (or at least white-passing)…a business woman that uses her sexual agency to create a successful empire.”

    • Prudence

      March 11, 2015 at 1:17 am

      This is a great article that I will be sharing but without detracting from the article I do fully agree with your statement, Kanye West is getting off scot-free for his bullshit comments while we as women bash each other..

  6. Annie

    March 1, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    I loved this … happened by it because it ended up on my Tumblr dash. I find myself learning more and more about the dynamics and nuances of gender/race and I love feminism because of this. If it wasn’t for sites like this, I would never hear these opinions, and I’d never be able to think on them. I’ve always loved Amber Rose, I don’t know, she just always seemed so damn unapologetic about who she was, and I admired that. And I have a strange love/hate thing with Kanye. I love his music, but I also feel kinda dirty about it 😉 If that makes sense. I listen to his stuff and then I hear certain lines about women and I’m like NOPE. But anyway, loved your article, thank you, I hope to read more from you in the future 🙂

  7. Dana Orkideh

    March 2, 2015 at 6:12 am

    A simple thank you for this text!

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