On Saturday afternoon, several hundred scantily clad women carrying posters with slogans like “My Pussy, My Rules” and “Sluts Rule”convened in downtown's Pershing Square as part of Amber Rose’s SlutWalk. The purpose of the event, like other “slutwalks” around the country, is to banish slut-shaming and “take back the word,” changing its meaning from something negative to something feminist can rally around.
Best known as ex-boo to both Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa, Rose brought her version of the protest to L.A. a few years ago, after Yeezy and his sister-in-law Khloe Kardashian slut-shamed her on the radio and on Twitter for being a former stripper. She makes a problematic leader for the movement for a number of reasons, but there's no denying that her involvement in the cause has given it its biggest audience to date. The turnout on Saturday was huge, and it brought out some fairly well-known celebrities including her very pregnant galpal Blac Chyna (in a bump-baring dress, natch) and reality star Kendra Wilkinson Baskett. Gossip blogger Perez Hilton co-hosted.
The first SlutWalk took place in Canada in 2011, held in response to a Toronto police officer’s statement that young women could safeguard themselves against rape by dressing modestly. The implication that provocatively dressed women are somehow responsible for being victimized angered feminist activist Sonya Barnett so much, she decided to organize a protest and march. Most SlutWalks are focused on the actual march, but Rose’s take on the event Saturday was, not surprisingly, more celebby and circus-like, featuring a concert, an art show, DJs, vendors, info booths and a VIP area with booze sponsors, food and fancy rented furnishings.
Before Rose’s gathering took pace, many women online were angered that it had an entrance fee (activism shouldn’t have a cover charge, they posted). Soon after, one of the event’s sponsors, Flirt Cosmetics, offered a promo code for free entry. You did have to pay to get into the VIP area (which also scored you a goody bag). Swag-alization of SlutWalk aside, the concept itself is controversial for obvious reasons.
Covering the event on Saturday, I had some thoughts and concerns, for example, about the groups of thirsty looking men who weren't there to empower women, but to drool and take pictures. I mean, can we blame them for not looking away when a woman is wearing nothing but gold tape over her nipples? Yes. Yes, we can blame them. Also, I wonder whether we have to “reclaim” every negative word? Aren't some just better off disappearing? And during a lot of speeches on Saturday, the word “equality” was thrown around quite a bit — as women continue to fight for things like equal pay, I'm not sure those struggles quite translated here.
In any case, Saturday’s SlutWalk was a fun party. Even with pockets of pervy dudes snapping pics, there was a real sisterhood feel. Women of all shapes, sizes, colors and sexual orientations stood side by side signing the “Wall of No Shame,” gals shook their butts into each other while twerking to hip-hop hits and everybody was super friendly. It's a fact that many women are slut-shamed by other women, but there was none of that here — only supportive smiles and vibes. Rose herself spoke about the womanly bonding around her and seemed genuinely touched by the turnout and love she was getting from her fan contingent there. The current Dancing With the Stars contestant milked it heavy though, even crying on stage near the end of the event for several minutes as the crowd stood there cheering her and baking in the sun. I didn’t disagree with anything she had to say about slut-shaming or even question her sincerity, but I’d bet my best G-string there were some kind of reality TV cameras rolling at the time.
After all, you don’t have to be a slut to be an attention … well, you get my drift.