Amber Rose likes to make people uncomfortable. She thrives off it. More so, she’s empowered by it. But she’s more than just an unabashed provocateur — she’s a model, an author, a mother, an actress, an entrepreneur, a self-described slut, and most importantly, a champion of modern feminism.
This year, the 32-year-old celebrated her feminist awakening. She called out slut shamers on the MTV VMAs red carpet, organized her very own SlutWalk in downtown Los Angeles, and released her first book, “How To Be A Bad Bitch.” And she’s only just getting started.
MTV News chatted with Rose after the release of her book, and her bold brand of feminism isn’t a so-called hobby, it’s a movement — a powerful one at that. Rose isn’t afraid to call out the patriarchy that shames women for embracing their sexuality. In fact, she’s inspiring women from all walks of life to do the same.
MTV News: You’ve been really candid about not understanding feminism in the past. You even called yourself a former slut shamer. When was your feminist awakening?
Amber Rose: I always wanted to promote girl power, even when I was younger, but at that time, I didn’t have a voice. Growing up in my neighborhood, I was raised to be a slut shamer. I didn’t know any better. But then I started to put myself in their shoes — that’s something we don’t do as women. We’ll be quick to call a woman a ho but not think about what we did last week, or what we did with our last boyfriend. Or we criticize what she has on because we feel self-conscious about our bodies.
This year, I feel like I found my voice. I was constantly defending myself, like, “No, I didn’t sleep with that guy. No, I’m not a whore. Don’t look at me like that.” And one day, I woke up and I was like, “Maybe I am — and that’s cool.” If you want to look at me and call me a whore because I’m single and I’m dating, fine! Then I’ll be a slut. It’s cool. I’m actually cool with that. Once I came to that realization, I was so happy. I’m 32. I’m single. I’m a mom. Yes, I’m going to date. I’m going to live my life and do whatever I want.
MTV: Was there one comment in particular that set you off?
Rose: Going through a divorce, I really saw the double standards. Wiz would be with a different girl every day and get photographed out with girls at the club. I would be on one date with a guy, and it was like, “You’re a horrible mother! You’re a f–ked up person! You’re a whore! That’s why Wiz left you, you f–king slut.” And I was just like, damn, am I not allowed to live? Am I not allowed to be sexy anymore because I’m a mom? Do I have to dress like a nun because I had a baby? I just started to see all of those comments while I was going through my divorce, and it just wasn’t right. I have an opportunity to be a voice for women to say that it’s not cool.
MTV: This year, we’ve seen a lot of stories about students being taken out of class or sent home from prom for dress code violations. Most of those students are girls. Do you think that’s sexist?
Rose: Abso-frickin’-lutely, girl. I was sexually assaulted in the seventh grade. This boy stuck his hand all the way up my skirt. I was sitting on the edge of the stage in the auditorium, and he sat down next to me and put his hand up my skirt… I went to principal, and I told her that I felt extremely violated. I couldn’t believe that he had touched me like that. And she blamed me. She said, “You shouldn’t even be wearing a skirt like that.” Obviously, in the seventh grade, my skirt was not that short — but even if it was, that didn’t give him the right to shove his hand up my skirt.
I grew up in a very poor neighborhood [in South Philadelphia], and went to a very poor school, and she made me feel like I didn’t matter. That’s another thing I talk about in my book — classism. There are Victoria’s Secret models who wear lingerie constantly, and no one calls them a ho. But if an Instagram model posts a picture of her in lingerie because she’s confident and she’s sexy and she’s happy with her body, she’s labeled a ho.
MTV: In many ways, it’s been a game-changing year for feminism and women in Hollywood, but for the most part, intersectional feminism has been largely ignored. Why do you think that is?
Rose: I think it makes people uncomfortable, but I like to make people uncomfortable. I think it brings awareness. That’s why I refer to myself as a slut and why I embrace my ho-ism. Regardless of what I do, even when I was married or when I first came onto the scene and I was with one boyfriend, they called me a whore because I was a dancer. In our society, dancers are hoes. But strippers are not looking at guys in a sexual way; they see dollar signs. When they’re at work, they’re there to make money. It has nothing to do with sex. We are who we are, and we do what we do, but that doesn’t mean we’re not capable of love.
MTV:How do we change that misconception?
Rose: People don’t know that my entire team is all men. I didn’t do it on purpose. It just so happened to be that way, and I’ve had the opportunity to talk to these guys and change their minds about everything they thought they knew. My lawyer — and he’ll probably get so mad at me for saying this, but I don’t give a s–t — was such a sexist pig. He would say, “Man, this ho is calling me, and this bithch…” And I was just like, “Look, bro. Check this out. You’re not going to work for me and do that, and I’m going to explain to you why.” Now, he’s dating a dancer. He’s a Harvard graduate, and he’s dating a stripper. And it’s so f–king cool.
MTV: As a mother, is that something you’re going to impart on your son as well?
Rose: Absolutely. It all starts with the mothers and the fathers and the parents. I’m raising a man, so it’s very important for me to talk to my son. He’s two-and-a-half now, but as he gets older, and he starts going to school, I’m going to have these conversations with him. I’m going to be like Barbra Streisand from “Meet The Fockers.” I’m going to be like, “Honey, did you give your wife an orgasm? Are you good? Are you taking care of her?” I’m going to be that mom because regardless of what a girl has on or how pretty she is — or even if she gets you to that point where you guys are both naked in bed — if she says no, it’s no. You put your clothes back on, and you leave. So we need to teach our sons and daughters about what’s right and what’s wrong.
MTV: As I was reading your book, I was reminded of this quote that Mindy Kaling once said about why she was so confident as a young woman, especially in this industry. And she said it was because he parents raised her “with the entitlement of a tall, blonde white man.” Where does your confidence come from?
Rose: From my mom, for sure. I was always different. I wasn’t like the girls in my neighborhood. I dressed differently. I was into heavy metal. I had a mohawk before mohawks were cool, before Puff had a mohawk. It wasn’t cool at the time, and they used to call me a South Street kid because I was just very different. No matter what I put on, my mom would say, “Amber, you are so beautiful. You look amazing. I love that outfit.” She always gave me the confidence, so when I went out and people would make fun of me, I would be like, “This is me. If you don’t like it, I don’t give a s–t.” My mom gave me that confidence, and I’m going to do the same to my son.
MTV: You recently received some criticism for a section in your book about the powers of seduction and how women should use that to get what they want from a man. What do you have to say to your critics?
Rose: When people hear the word seduction, they immediately think of sex — and that’s not what I meant. I’m not telling people to prostitute themselves. But we do have a feminine charm as women. By all means, I’m not saying go use people and be a manipulator and be a f–ked up person. I’m an extremely positive person, and I don’t use people for anything, but if I’m at a McDonald’s drive-thru, and there are no french fries left, I’m going to throw my charm on and see if I can get a milkshake or something extra. Whatever the case may be, you can do that.
I’ve also gotten really far in business by not being scared to ask for certain things. That’s how I got my book! When I walked into Simon & Schuster, they didn’t really know who I was, but I sold myself. I asked them a million questions — and no question is stupid. That’s the only way you’re going to learn and get what you want. The worst thing that they can say to you is no, and they you keep it moving.
MTV: Do you feel like you’ve reclaimed the word “bitch” with the title of your book?
Rose: You’re never going to stop people from calling you a bitch, especially if you’re a woman in power. I have employees. I’m a boss, and I need things to get done. Sometimes, people call me a bitch, but no one would say that to Puff or Jay Z or Russell Simmons. They’d be like, “Man, they’re entrepreneurs.” I love Jay. I’ve been a fan of Jay Z since forever, but he was a drug dealer out of Brooklyn — and no one f–king cares. No one brings that up. I came from the ’hood, too. I was a dancer. That was my hustle, so am I not an entrepreneur? Am I still a stripper, eight years later?