Two months ago, Amber Rose launched her much anticipated, and all-inclusive Slut Walk in Los Angeles. The purpose of this walk was to recognize the shaming, oppression, assault and violence that has disproportionately impacted marginalized groups, including women of color, transgender people, and sex workers. Rose’s walk was about more than just addressing feminist issues. She also wanted to show that when you label people, you take away their humanity. Rose wanted to promote the idea that women own the rights to their bodies and should have the freedom to do with them what they want. Thousands of women and men gathered, some topless, some clothed, some in lingerie, carrying signs with empowering messages to those who have been shamed by society. But Rose’s Slut Walk missed the mark with a few of the conservatives.
Some felt that Rose could have conveyed her message in a more productive way rather than hosting a walk full of topless people. Facebook user Gabby Mooney stated:
“This #amberroseslutwalk is a shame. Instead of it being about defending rape victims … it’s turned into these crazies wanting to b topless. So what they are saying is that we should all walk around naked and that’ll prevent rape? I’m sorry … but I’m confused. Maybe we should teach boys to RESPECT women, instead of women degrading themselves? That’s an idea.”
In an article published by the Washington Post, Rose was accused of contributing to a patriarchal and capitalistic society by taking an issue and profiting off of it. Sexual purists believed that Rose’s message was causing more harm than good and promoting that it’s okay for women to objectify themselves sexually in a youth culture. From this Slut Walk stemmed an entire feminist branding, a book and a GoFundMe campaign for Rose, which caused some to look at her with a sharp side-eye, questioning her motives.
A week later, the Internet was buzzing after the story of Brelyn Bowman found its way to blog sites, news feeds and Twitter timelines. On her wedding day, the 22-year-old bride presented her father with a certificate proving that she abided by her vow of sexual purity until marriage. Just as Amber Rose’s Slut Walk had, this act sparked an online debate on whether this was appropriate or inappropriate. In an interview with The Independent, her father also made note that all three of his daughters signed contracts promising to remain pure until their wedding night. This sparked criticism from sex-positive feminists who believed it to be problematic that a man should be in charge of deciding what a woman should be doing with her body. Some found the act both creepy and disgusting while many others were very supportive of Bowman’s decision. It raised the eyebrows of critics and garnered a theater of applause from like-minded individuals.
And then there was Ayesha Curry’s tweet about her style preferences: “I like to keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters.” Curry was both praised for her decision to cover up, and blasted for what some perceived to be the shaming of women who choose not to. The whole conversation then catapulted into an opportunity to call women out of their name for their choices, with both men AND women taking turns hurling insults.
Thinking back to these types of occurrences from this year alone, Slut Walks to purity certificates, modesty conversations and more, I’m reminded that there is a serious sexual divide between women. It hinders some from feeling comfortable enough to embrace their sexuality while praising those who decide to tuck it away. The full spectrum of celebrating womanhood is being okay with being whoever the hell you want to be. Should you choose to abstain, should you elect to cover up, good for you! And it shouldn’t trigger a backlash of criticism for personal choices. Should you choose to indulge, should you elect to flaunt what you’ve got, you shouldn’t have to answer to anyone or be subjected to slurs.
Far too often, we find ourselves fighting to choose a side, which in turn, forces us to be a part of bashing others. Regardless of preferences in sexual habits, style and more, I find that that as women we are often our own worst enemy. We judge each other the most and harshest when it comes to sexuality, we further reinforce societal standards placed up against us as if we can’t disagree on lifestyle choices and still coexist. I care not when it comes to whose #Team you see yourself on, but can’t we just be proud of what side we choose while still being understanding of the sides we’re not on?