It was 1am in the morning and I was having a huge argument with my ex boyfriend. Although we had been over for at least three months (he cheated on me) he called my phone that night drunk, malady you’re drunk” but then he said five words that made my stomach turn. “I still have those pictures”.
We were together for over a year and it was going so perfectly, of course I was in love and thought I could trust him; what was wrong with sending him a picture of the naked body he had seen over and over again? What was wrong with having a drunken night out with your boyfriend and taking some dumb but sexual images? It felt like what everyone in a relationship was doing anyway so I didn’t care at the time. Fast forward to this night and it’s now 1:30am and I’m crying on the phone, begging him to delete the pictures and I thought to myself “how could I have been so naive?” I can’t even describe how vulnerable I felt- unfortunately, there was still worse to come.
I woke up puffy eyed from crying the night before to discover my phone inundated with texts and “so and so sent an image” on WhatsApp- I wanted to throw up. When the call had ended last night he had said he would “spare me” the embarrassment because my body was “shit anyway” and he didn’t want anyone to know that who he was having sex with… despite us being in a publicly known relationship for over a year. I guess he changed his mind because when I logged on to Facebook, there they were, all 8 images of my naked body, some of me in very compromising positions- I literally froze. Over the course of that day I had to speak to both my Mum and Dad who still had my ex as a friend on Facebook, my younger 17 year old sister and God knows who else and explain what had happened, it was the most horrendous day of my life. My Dad couldn’t look at me for days and I had people I hadn’t spoken to since school messaging me, acting like they cared when really they just wanted the gossip- it was sickening.
This is the reality for so many young women and despite us being the ones who have to deal with the Hell unleashed when those images are uploaded, we still get treated as if it was our fault. I had never asked him to upload those pictures, I thought he had deleted them. Even my mum asked “why didn’t you check they were gone?” like it was so easy to get hold of your exes phone. People may ask why I didn’t go to the police but the way I was treated, even by my own family, was enough to make me want to bury the whole thing and not look back; what would going to court do? He would get a slap on the wrist and go to the pub later to laugh about it with his friends, maybe come to my house and make me relive the embarrassment in front of my family? I just wanted to forget about it.
However, after reading that in 2015 some of the victims of revenge porn were only 11 years old, I wish I had been braver and taken him to court; young boys especially need to know that there are consequences for subjecting someone to such a callous and spiteful act. When I spoke to Leomie before writing this piece she told me that at a all girls school she had spoken at, three different girls knew someone who had or had attempted to commit suicide when their intimate images were leaked; this is horrific. I urge anyone who is going through what I went through to not suffer in silence. Speak to someone, speak to the police, see what your options are or better yet, do not send the picture or consent to being photographed. You really have no idea what can happen to those images or videos once you click send and I cannot describe to you how I felt that night. I know that people I do not even know have now seen me fully naked and have the screenshots on their phones and in their group chats and are laughing not knowing that they are holding a piece of the worst day of my life- please think twice before getting into the same situation I did.
Oh and to the parents of future victims, please do better than mine did. Understand that your child has been subjected to a horrific crime, don’t let them feel as dirty and ashamed as my own did me.
Amber Rose is one of our biggest feminist icons of recent times, symptoms whether you like it or not.
I said this to my then boyfriend who laughed like he had never laughed before and reminded me that she was just ‘a stripper’ without the intellectual clout to be a ‘feminist’. I stressed Amber’s status as a feminist to a friend who also found this hilarious and said that Amber has ‘absolutely no morals’ and would have amounted to nothing without Kanye. Nothing.
It can be tempting to intellectualise feminism. We think that you need to be studying for a PHD in Gender Studies or have a defined theoretical framework about what it means to be a woman, and definitely not a stripper past, right?
I am not discrediting a long line of respected feminist theorists, but a woman like Amber is opening up a discussion about slut-shaming, sexual liberation and empowerment for the masses. We should be giving her a round of applause. Maybe we should throw in a standing ovation, too?
Amber is a credible feminist and this is why:
She has made us think about the word ‘slut’
At secondary school in East London the word ‘slut’ was not shouted out often. Instead, we had ‘hoe’, sket’ and ‘grim’ – but all these words pretty much had the same function: to degrade women. I didn’t really think why we accepted these words as ‘normal’. I didn’t fully register the power of these words until I got older.
Amber has opened up a discussion about derogatory terms for women. You have to remember that this is a woman who has been called a ‘slut’ within the public eye as soon as she appeared on the scene as stripper. I suppose it could’ve been easier for her to accept the label that the majority had given her and re-invented herself as a sugary sweet, shy and retiring type ashamed of her past. Amber didn’t do that. She is definitely not sorry.
She’s become more powerful by opening the debate about why we allow men to define us in the first place: ‘Referring to myself as a slut is me taking back this derogatory word and taking the pain and bullying out of it’. Why aren’t men referred to as a slut? Why can they have numerous sexual partners and suffer no real repercussions? If Amber is just stripper who is so disgusting that a man has to take 30 shower after sleeping with her (thank you Kanye), why does she have the power to make us think?
The Amber Rose Slutwalks:
‘Why would a group of women walk down the street and call themselves sluts?’
This is the usual response when I ask people’s opinions of the SlutWalk. The SlutWalks were created in 2011 in response to a Canadian policeman who said that ‘women should avoid dressing like sluts’ to avoid rape. Thousands of women, globally, came together to protest against the ‘it’s your own fault, you’ve bought it on yourself’ culture that exists to blame women for sexual violence.
Amber has created her own SlutWalk movement, with the most recent being on October 1st, which featured speakers, sexual health testing and most importantly a space for women to debate their identity. All with a dose of Amber fun with performances and appearances from a range of celebrities. If a woman is actively fighting for the rights of women, shouldn’t she be able to wear that feminist badge with pride?
Her response to criticism
Recently, Benzino from Love & Hip Hop popped up on social media to criticise Amber’s recent SlutWalk event as a ‘whore walk’ and thought she was ‘better off looking pretty and keeping her mouth shut’. As we know, Amber is not the shy and retiring type and she told him to’ Mind ur fucking business and please stop telling women to dim our lights. We’re Powerful and we have a voice!’
Amber’s right. We are powerful and definitely have a voice. You might not like Amber. It’s fine if you don’t want to refer to yourself as a ‘slut’. But you need to respect Amber’s position as a feminist. Amber, bring your SlutWalk to London.
Written by Rebecca Gordon
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