In her new book, How to Be a Bad Bitch, we truly get a glimpse of Amber Rose’s journey from a scrappy girl in South Philly to a polarizing pop culture figure. It maps an evolution that brought her to the feminist movement, organizing a SlutWalk that galvanized a diverse range of supporters — from women’s activists to porn stars — to rally against slut-shaming, sexual assault, and rape culture. It also reveals a passion for justice that stems from a personal place, having been sexually assaulted and victimized early in life. “I was extremely young,” said Rose. “I was probably in like the fifth grade and I had on like a little tennis skirt and a sweatshirt,” she said, recounting the experience. Rose won’t let that moment, past relationships, or provocative headlines prevent her from advocating for women. As stated in her book, “You can’t keep a bad bitch down.”
The model and entrepreneur shared her thoughts on double standards, parenting and her plans for the future, during a visit to the Women in the World office in New York City.
Women in the World: Tell us about your SlutWalk. Did you have a chance to speak with some of the women that showed up?
Amber Rose: I didn’t come up with the idea for SlutWalk. It was founded by two women in Toronto and they initially had the SlutWalk in 2011, then people started having SlutWalks all around the world. They just inspired so many women. One day on Instagram, I saw a girl and she had pasties on [her breasts] and “still not asking for it” written on her body and I’m like, “What is this? Some type of protest?” Then I found a link and I started looking it up. We just worked effortlessly for months to try to raise money. What’s really cool about the SlutWalk is that it was an opportunity for women to go out to a safe place and wear whatever they wanted and no one was judging them. We had porn stars that were there, extremely conservative feminists, radical feminists — they all just got along. They understood that they were all fighting for the same cause.
WITW: When did you realize you were a feminist and how did that help you find your voice?
AR: For the past couple of years, I’ve been growing as a feminist. When it really hit me was probably this year, after my separation. That’s when I saw the double standards. I couldn’t believe it. Even the things that like my male friends would say to me.
WITW: What were they saying?
AR: I mean, I can’t really say it because they’ll apply it to my husband and I won’t do that. But, just very chauvinist things. Basically saying that he can do that because he’s a man, but if you do it you’re a complete f—ing slut. It didn’t make sense to me. I’m telling you, it’s God’s will that I ran into that picture and saw what the SlutWalk was about. This applies to my entire life. I put out thousands of dollars of my own money. My lawyer Walter [Mosley] donated also because we didn’t have enough money. I want to thank Walter for that and Nick Cannon, Nicki Minaj, Neo — I just really went through my phone and said give me money for my SlutWalk!
WITW: On Instagram, you posted a photo of yourself next to Channing Tatum with the hashtag #LegendaryTeenStrippers. How are you and Channing Tatum treated differently?
AR: It’s double standards. That’s the f—ing world that we live in, period. He can be a former stripper — never in any of the articles that he does. They never even bring it up. [But] I can be like “Ha, ha, I was a dancer,” and it’s like “You’re disgusting Amber. Why would you do that? Why are you advocating for women to be sluts? Why are you promoting promiscuity?”
WITW: I want to ask you about your article with GQ. What disappointed you the most about that interview?
AR: They didn’t focus on me. They reached out to me for an interview, but they weren’t really a fan of mine. Don’t f—ing call me if you don’t care about what I’m doing or what I’m about. They literally did everything in that interview that I did my SlutWalk for. I can’t even believe they’re stupid enough to put a title like that up and refer to me as a baby mama when I was married. I’m still actually married. I’m not Wiz Khalifa’s baby’s mama. I’m an advocate for women’s rights. That’s what the f— I am. That’s what I did the interview about and you dumbed me down and belittled me. Everybody has an opinion, but at the end of the day it didn’t sit well with me.
WITW: A lot of people typecast you as someone who made your success because of the men that you’ve dated. Why are they mistaken to think that?
AR: Put it like this, you don’t ask for fame. It happens to you. Now it’s like—You’re just famous cause you dated famous guys. Fine. Initially — 100 percent. That’s not my fault. That sh– was out of my hands. Everyone has a stepping-stone and that was mine. Did I get a head start? F—ing right I did. But what do you do after that stepping-stone? Do you fall back into obscurity or do you constantly move forward in life? You have to constantly move forward.
WITW: In your chapter “Inner-strength,” you talk about a fight you had with a girl named Paula after slut-shaming her. Can you tell me a little bit more about that confrontation?
AR: She jumped me with her friend, her boyfriend, and her aunt. They really f—ed me up really bad. Like, I remember pulling hair out for like a while. I don’t go out and just say that I’m this perfect, righteous feminist. I’ve been a complete slut-shamer. I think we all really have. It’s just about change. If you’re willing to change, just become a better person and not be that slut-shamer anymore, then we’re all moving forward into a better feminist world.
WITW: You have the most adorable son. What do you plan on teaching him about misogyny?
AR: You already know, girl. He’s gonna be a male feminist. He’s gonna respect women. Sebastian’s only 2-and-a-half. He’s in that smacking-you-in-the-face stage. The only thing I’ve ever really talked about was you cannot hit girls. You can’t hit people in general, but especially girls. As he grows, what I’m really going to teach him is when his peers are like, “Man, she’s a hoe.” That’s when my son’s going to be like, “Man, don’t do that. Don’t talk about her like that.” You can’t put it all on her when you’re doing the same thing. That’s what I’m going to teach my boy.
WITW: What do you miss about Philly and where do you buy your cheesesteaks?
AR: I always miss Philly. Philly made me who I am. I miss the food the most actually. There’s two places I like. Philip’s in South Philly and I like Max’s. Sometimes a good ol’ neighborhood corner store has a really good cheesesteak too.
WITW: Tell me about your current projects. What are you working on right now?
AR: I just did Blackish. It comes out on November 11th and they just wrote me into four more episodes, which is really cool to be on a sitcom on ABC. I’m going on auditions for movies. I have amberroseeyewear.com.
WITW: What does your future look like?
AR: It changes every single day. It really does. Every day I have new ideas about what I want to do. I guess, more so, just continue to be an advocate for women’s rights. Expand that all over the world. Travel more and go talk to women. It’s unfortunate because in different countries I can’t go and have a SlutWalk there. Women will get killed. I can’t tell them that they don’t live in a man’s world where they are, because they do.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
How to Be a Bad Bitch, by Amber Rose (Simon Schuster, 2015) is out now.