On Saturday, Oct. 3, hundreds, by the Los Angeles Times’ estimate, took to the streets for a “SlutWalk” in L.A. The march was headlined by well known entertainer Amber Rose. Rose, a former stripper turned entrepreneur, actress, and model, explained from her webpage “that shaming, oppression, assault and violence have disproportionately impacted marginalized groups including women of color, transgender people, and sex workers, and thus we are actively working to center these groups in this event . . . We deeply value the voices of marginalized groups and have a strong desire to find common ground among all of our intersections.”
In her interview on Larry King Live, Rose explained her reasoning for headlining the march by saying, “Back in 2011, in Toronto, there was this woman who got sexually assaulted and the police officer that was dealing with her case basically got caught saying, ‘Well, if she wasn’t dressed like a slut, then men wouldn’t touch her like that.’ So all these feminists came together and had a slut walk…writing things on their body, pretty much being half naked and saying, ‘I still don’t want you! I can wear whatever I want, but it still doesn’t mean that I want to have sex with you or I’m asking for it.’ So I decided to have my own SlutWalk ’cause they inspired me. For all equality issues – slut-shaming, double standards, sexual assault victims, rape victims. And even guys can come and protest on behalf of their wives, their sisters, their daughters.”
Rose has come into the spotlight recently due to her popular Funny or Die video titled, “Walk of no shame.” In it she challenged, through comedy, the idea of “slut shaming,” in which people, usually women, are ridiculed or harassed due to their sexual choices. In the now viral video Rose, who appears to be leaving the house of a lover, takes a walk down the street with her head held high celebrating her exploits from the previous evening.
Rose spoke at the march, giving her own account of how she had been slut-shamed by the media and former partners. The “How to Be a Bad Bitch” author went on to say she forgave those who were misguided in shaming her. There were a variety of signs at the march, with the images plastered all over social media. Rose held a sign that read, “Strippers have feelings too.” Another protestor’s sign said, “No is a complete answer.” And “Things you could worry about instead of my outfit: rape culture, racism, homophobia, transphobia, homelessness, and the war on women.”
The SlutWalks aren’t a new concept, and have been around since 2011. They began in response to a Canadian police officer’s remarks on how “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The officer gave this statement in response to sexual assaults that were occurring on the campus of Canada’s York University at the time. The SlutWalks have since occurred in a variety of cities across the globe, not without controversy. The Amber Rose-sponsored SlutWalk was no different. The event caused a good amount of debate across the web on whether the SlutWalk was helpful to the cause for women or detrimental.
One twitter user, Themba Ndala, commented by saying, “I don’t mean to be judgmental but the #amberroseslutwalk just ain’t proper for our young girls… The #amberroseslutwalkconcept is a big shame, it will only help to aggravate the depravity in the life of young girls.” Sentiments such as this echoed in the popular tag thread of #amberroseslutwalk, while many others came to defend the protest and point out the need for such a march. One Twitter user, East African Mzungu, explained, “The amount of negative response to #amberroseslutwalkjustifies the need to #endrapeculture and victim blaming, #misogyny hurts society… The methods used at #amberroseslutwalk are a way of taking back insults that are meant to break us down as objectified women.”
A small counter-protest did occur at the event, staged by Milo Yiannopolous. Yiannopolous is a writer on the conservative website Breitbart. Yiannopolous held a sign reading, “‘Rape culture’ and Harry Potter. Both fantasy.” Libertarian activist Lauren Southern was the second participant of the counter-protest, and held a sign reading, “Regret is not rape.” Both were reportedly ejected from the march.