A ‘Whore’ By Any Other Name Is Still A Rose

by Kenya Golden on February 23, 2015 · 8 comments

in Great Sex Work Moments in Pop Culture History

Amber Rose, via her Instagram page.

Amber Rose. (Via her Instagram page.)

Recently, Amber Rose has been in the spotlight for giving her opinion on The Breakfast Club 105.1 regarding Kim Kardashian’s 17-year-old half sister Kylie Jenner’s relationship with 25-year-old rapper Tyga. Rose was asked if Jenner is too young to date the “Rack City” rapper, and she responded with: “She’s a baby. She needs to go to bed at 7:00 o’clock and relax.” She also said Tyga should be ashamed of himself for leaving his family for a minor.

Let’s untangle this celebrity web. Rose has a close friendship with celebrity exotic dancer Blac Chyna. Chyna dated Tyga for a little over two years and had a child with him. Tyga split with Chyna last August and allegedly began a relationship with Jenner. In case you didn’t know, Jenner’s older half sister, Kim Kardashian, is married to Kanye West, whom Rose had a relationship with from 2008 to 2010, during which her modeling career launched when she posed for a Louis Vuitton print advertisement that featured West’s sneaker line. Later, Rose dated rapper Wiz Khalifa, with whom she had a son.

So that’s why The Breakfast Club asked Rose about Jenner. The interview spread like wildfire throughout social media. When Khloe Kardashian caught wind of Rose’s comments, she took to Twitter to attack Rose. In one tweet, she brought up the fact that Rose had stripped as a minor, saying, “Please don’t worry about my sister who has a career [modeling] and her shit.”

Rose’s romantic history is regularly the topic of gossip, but her background is more interesting. Raised in South Philadelphia, Rose became a stripper to support her family at the age of 15. In 2012, she did an interview for NecoleBitchie.com where she stated that when she and her mother became homeless, being an exotic dancer at a young age was simply a means of survival. She compared her situation to men who also live in poverty selling drugs to feed their families.

So in response to Kardashian, Rose clapped back in a series of tweets that highlighted Kardashian’s hypocrisy. She even tweeted “I’ll be that lil whore to support my family like ur sister is a whore 2 supports hers.”

BURN.

BURN. (Via Amber Rose’s Twitter feed.)

Here’s the thing: Khloe was clearly slut-shaming Rose to derail her opinion about Jenner’s relationship with Tyga. Women, especially women of color, are often mocked and judged for doing sex work, for “selling our bodies.” Kardashian touted her sister’s career in an industry notoriously unsafe for young girls while shaming Amber’s hustle as a young sex worker, all in one tweet.

In addition to shaming Rose for her sex work background, Kardashian also brings classism into play. Amber Rose grew up in poverty. Her family was homeless. By the age of 15, in a world in which WOC are constantly sexually objectified, Rose knew that her body was her capital. Profiting off of their own sexual objectification is a way out of poverty for many young girls of color. The drive towards survival for young WOC sex workers outweighs the risk of sexual abuse, trafficking, jail, or even death—potential fates for young women of color in the underground sex industry.

Young girls of color, especially those living in poverty, are often sexualized too early. Amber Rose, at 15, would have been considered a “fast tail” girl by many in the black community. She would have been blamed for attracting sexual predators who often chase after young girls—another component of rape culture. Instead of teaching boys not to become predators, young girls are told it’s their responsibility to prevent themselves from becoming victims of rape, molestation, street harassment, or even sex work.

However, the Kardashians have always been wealthy. Their late father was a celebrity lawyer with high-profile clients such as O.J. Simpson. When Kim Kardashian dated rapper Ray J., they starred in their own homemade amateur sex tape. Ray J. “leaked” the tape without Kim’s consent. Instead of being humiliated by the people who slut-shamed her, Kim decided to capitalize off of the tape and eventually built a profitable empire off her personal brand, most notably with her reality TV show. Recently, Kim has been welcomed in the high fashion community and has even posed nude for a few magazines.

Image via Amber Rose's Instagram page.

(Image via Amber Rose’s Instagram page)

This illustrates the hypocrisy of Khloe’s attack on Amber: Kim and Amber Rose both made the choice to use their sexuality to make a living. In our patriarchal society, we know that sex work is often frowned upon and not respected as “real” work. I brought up the statement Rose made about young black men who live in poverty who turn to selling drugs to support their families earlier in this post. Rappers often glorify what is known as “trapping,” often referencing it in their songs. They get respect from their fans for praising it as a chosen lifestyle instead of a means of surviving in lower income environments. However, since a woman’s role in society is to be sexually repressed, capitalizing on one’s sexuality in the underground economy in order to survive in a similar fashion is scorned. As a sex worker of color, I’ve received harsh criticism from family members about my profession. I’ve been told to “get a real job” and stop getting naked for money.

We all know that a woman with sexual autonomy is feared. Our culture preps girls to cater to men at a very young age. Kanye West also did an interview with The Breakfast Club a few days after Rose, stating that Tyga was smart to date Jenner at 17 because “he got in early.” I assume he’s alluding to the fact that Tyga got to date Jenner before any other man could sleep with her. This quote reaffirms that men view women as property that can be devalued by the number of sexual partners they’ve had.

On Instagram, Rose addressed these double standards with a screenshot from a text message she sent to a friend: “I’m sick of men being praised for being sexual beings but us women being downed for it.” As a sex worker and a woman who isn’t afraid of people calling her a “hoe” for doing what I want sexually, I am so here for the goddess Rose. She is a celebrity woman that has inspired me to live a more carefree, sexually liberated lifestyle while being an awesome single mother.

Rose isn’t ashamed of her past because she did what she had to do to support her family. At the same time, she’s never glorified her experience being a young sex working girl in a sexually predatory environment. She is inspiring more women to love themselves and to be unapologetic about their sexuality. Rose is the underdog that a lot of women are rooting for, a role model for sex workers aspiring to mainstream success. And through her refusal to be cowed by celebrity whorephobia, she’s the ambassador to that mainstream world that we need now.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon February 23, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Great article. We should all be able to use our talents, whatever they are, to make enhance our lives. Being an entertainer of any kind is a good profession if the person doing it is happy doing it. If one feels shamful being involved in the adult entertainment field then get out of it as soon as you can but if you comfortable in your own skin and its a net plus in your life, the opinions of others don’t mean a damn thing.

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paris lee February 23, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Yaaaassssss. That is all.

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soyluv February 23, 2015 at 4:28 pm

All of this–yes!

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Sunny Dee February 23, 2015 at 4:37 pm

imo, that comment about ‘got in early’ is a reference to the fame/income side effects that come along with being ‘in’ with a Kardashian who sole source of income is basically showing up making appearances, and getting photographed. for this they make money, and fame.

If Tyga is not as well known as he would like to be, clearly ‘getting in early’ with the Kardashian fame effect is an ideal self promotional move. It also makes a question as to Kanye’s real motives for chasing after Kim for so many years. If you watch an older KUWTK episode, prior to Kim H proposing to KimK, Lamar is recorded telling KH to take advantage of his new opportunity to self promote himself (or words to that effect).

AR should be proud, and clearly is, that she found something to do that kept food on the table for her family, at a young age. That she was able to be hired says more about the venues she worked in, not herself, too. if these businesses were more regulated and subject to better scrutiny, no 15 year old would ever be able to get up on the stage in the first place. That is society’s failing, not AR,. but then living in poverty and homeless is society’s failing, not Amber Roses.

That two extremely wealthy people, Khloe K who has never gone hungry, and Kanye West should even speak to her about this is disgraceful. And i totally back AR saying 17 is too young for a 25 year old. They may grow up fast, but it is more than a little distasteful that anyone over the age of 21 even should find a teenage girl grown up enough to be dating, especially a guy who has had relatiionships and children with other women.

That AR sees this as a self promotional relationship, maybe she is just looking out for the young Kylie, as a warning.

Clearly her own sisters and family seem to have no interest in looking out for what is best for her.

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Cad February 23, 2015 at 8:46 pm

I completely agree with this whole article. What I don’t agree with is Amber Rose getting on this young woman when the blame should be squarely on the shoulders of the man who left his family for her. 17 is the legal age of consent in most places and no one had a gun to his head. Isn’t it just as wrong to slut shame a young woman just because her current mate is a douche as it is to slut shame a sex worker, regardless of her age?

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Caty Simon February 24, 2015 at 10:51 am

But I don’t think Rose was criticizing Jenner–she was condemning Tyga.

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Cad February 24, 2015 at 9:04 pm

I just feel like her comment about Jenner was completely infantalizing and condescending. True, 17 year olds aren’t exactly known for the best decisions, but it’s not exactly childhood, at seventeen I was planning a wedding, working and enrolling in college, and most of the people I knew were caring for children and living with a partner. It just seems to me that a comment on Jenner’s age is just as unnecessary as Khloe’s tasteless comment to Amber’s sex work. If she truly wishes for women to be unapologetic in their sexuality (as they should) then i would think she’d have an issue shaming a young woman because she is significantly younger than her mate. Sorry for the wall o text, it took me like an hour to shorten this, I just gave up after a while☺️

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