This past weekend, actress and model Amber Rose took to the streets of Los Angeles dressed in black lingerie to lead a so-called “slut walk,” a protest aimed at combating the notion that any woman, regardless of how she is dressed, deserves to be sexually assaulted. About 250 women and men joined her; some women wore underwear, and others went altogether topless.
The walk is not the first of its kind: Slut walks originated in Toronto in 2011, after a police officer suggested that women should “avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Since then, these protests have taken place across the country and the globe.
A former stripper, Amber Rose is no stranger to slut-shaming. Rose has suffered very public negative comments from two of her former partners, Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa. And she has made many public statements since. Earlier this year, Rose and her friend Blac Chyna attended the MTV Video Music Awards in outfits covered in offensive slurs used to denigrate women. Rose also appeared in a Funny or Dieskit entitled “Walk of No Shame,” where she reversed the so-called “walk of shame” by strutting home confidently after spending the night at a man’s house.
I believe that Rose’s message—and the overarching point that these slut walks are designed to make—is a good and vitally important one. There are no circumstances that justify sexual assault. There are no circumstances that justify the kind of venomous language that women, even women perceived to be promiscuous, are so often subjected to. If you truly believe in the dignity of the human person, then you must acknowledge that all of us deserve love and respect—regardless of our behavior or appearance.
That being said, I wish there were a different method employed to deliver the message. Yes, it gets headlines and news reports and think pieces (Verily included). I get it; you’re making a splash. But the slut walk seems to employ the same eye-catching tactic that Maxim and Sports Illustrated (along with 99 percent of the media) have been using for years. The fact is that to see a famous woman in lingerie in broad daylight while walking the streets of L.A.—or anywhere else, for that matter—is, at this point, nothing out of the ordinary. Women’s bodies are constantly on display, and our sexuality is constantly exploited, to devastating ends….
I wrote this article for Verily Magazine, where the full version is published.