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Amber Rose hosts SlutWalk 2015 in Downtown Los Angeles, Ca

Just because you are not a slut, does not protect you from the experience of slut-shaming. My first experience of slut-shaming came at 12-years old, before I even had any opportunities to be a slut. The older boys on the back of the school bus loved to yell “Arielle smokes…smokes a lot of c*ck!” I never let it bother me much, even at that age I knew that boys would just be boys and not to let it bother me. I had never smoked a cigarette, let alone performed oral sex, so the whole thing made no sense to begin with, but I can tell you one thing…it definitely didn’t feel good.

That kind of negative attention just comes with what it means to be a girl. Men see you as a sexual object and sometimes they use you, as Amber Rose spoke of at the beginning of her emotional speech at her SlutWalk in L.A. on Saturday, October 3rd. In the speech she tells the story of a boy who basically tricks her into getting on her knees in an innocent game of 7 Minutes in Heaven, and just as she gets on her knees he pulls out his d*ck and opens the door, to show all of the other partygoers what Rose is doing (even though she says, at the age of 14, she had no idea why he was asking her to get on her knees.)

Amber’s experience brought me right back to that school bus, and back to 2011 when I went to the first annual SlutWalk in London.

The whole idea behind a SlutWalk is to dress as bodacious as you can and walk together with your right to wear whatever the fuck you want and be whoever the fuck you want to be without getting harassed. Funny, because when I stepped out of my London flat in my faux fur vest, white crop top and jean shorts to go to the protest, that’s exactly what happened. These two drunken Brits screamed at me from down the block, “Hey miss. Want to come and sit on my c*ck?” Normally, I would just ignore this type of harassment but on my own street? Right outside of my home? Nah-uh. I yelled back, “SHUT THE FUCK UP,” and then quickly made my way around the corner. I wasn’t getting slut-shamed on my way to the SlutWalk.

There is a continuous underlying narrative of women being fed up with men’s approaches to their sexuality, but most men don’t hear it. Women are not sexual objects, period. We are human beings. Just like you. We have dreams, we have ambitions and we have feelings.

That is evident in watching Amber’s speech when she begins to become overwhelmed with emotion when discussing Wiz Khalifa’s line, “Man, I fell in love with a stripper/ Funny thing is I fell back out of love quicker,” which for Rose, felt like a dagger to the heart as it reduced her to being “just a stripper,” and “easy to fall out of love with.” To that I say, strippers are some of my favorite people that I have ever encountered. Genuinely. And what many people don’t know about stripping is that it can be very empowering. What you saw on that stage in Downtown L.A. was exactly that: an empowered woman who used to be a stripper.

Amber Rose hosts SlutWalk 2015 in Downtown Los Angeles, Ca

So, I was slut-shamed at 12, at 24 outside of my British home, many other times I’m sure that I’m not thinking about, and then most recently online after I published an article about my ex, who was also my professor, raping me. I write for Thought Catalog as well and published a piece six months ago about the rape. In the article I make it clear that I was an active participant in sexual acts, but simply was not ready for sex itself. I said “no.” Clearly and definitively, and the sex that followed was by no means consensual as I was physically overcome by my ex and forced to have sex with him against my will. Most comment sections of my articles garner two to six comments, but this post got 269 comments. Consisting of mostly men bashing me, saying that because I was down to hook up in some capacity I should have expected sex. That is the essence of slut-shaming.

Let me be clear to men, or anyone who thinks that a human form naked in front of them is consent to do whatever the fuck they want: A human being is under no obligation, no matter what the circumstance, to do whatever it is you want for them to do.  I don’t care what she’s wearing or not wearing, I don’t care what she texted you, and I don’t even care if she told you previously that she wants to suck your d*ck, there is absolutely no scenario where it is right to force a woman to do anything that she doesn’t want to do in that moment.

When it comes to women and men, men often see women as “toys” and “objects.” I’ve had the misfortune of having been around a lot of these types of men, and what I would say to them is this: respect women. Period. It’s not hard. If you’ve got respect for your mother, respect all of the other potential mothers out there, no matter their age. Because as a gender we tend to be more comforting. As a gender we tend to lean more towards healing, and without our input, and without our presence, you’re just a testosterone driven entity exploiting the future mothers of a generation.

Amber is brave to talk about her emotions in the speech that she gave, and it was courageous of her to organize a SlutWalk in L.A. to begin with. And when it comes to women’s rights, we’ve got a long way to go, but an event like the SlutWalk Amber held on Saturday is definitely a place to start.

As women, our sexuality is there for however we choose to use it. Don’t be afraid of your beautiful female form just because men often like to exploit it. Embrace it, grow with it, and let the slut-shaming slowly be silenced with the grace of time.

-Arielle London

PHOTO CREDIT: Splash

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