This post is the first in Brown Girl Magazine’s “Sexual Positivity” series, which is aimed to give an open, honest look into the sex lives and loves of South Asian women
The first time I remember being called a “slut” was my freshman year in college. My best friend’s crush was hosting a party, so we dressed in our cutest outfits and headed over. A few hours in, I got way too drunk, lost my friend, and was carried upstairs by the crush.
I woke up around 4:00 a.m. in a half-asleep daze and found his hands down my pants. I quickly swatted them away and went back to sleep.
Later that morning, I woke up to find him asleep next to me. With my memory still a bit hazy from the night before, I gathered my things and quickly left his house to go back to my place.
My worst fears were confirmed that day when I heard all his friends calling me a “slut,” all the while high-fiving him for “scoring.”
My best friend was enraged, and I let her hate me because I was too afraid to tell the truth: whatever happened, happened while I was unconscious. And because of that I was officially labeled a slut.
Slut-shaming is, unfortunately, a universal occurrence and it is especially pungent in non-individualist communities—like ours. All women have been called sluts at some point in their life, whether the situation is in or out of our control, we are the ones being punished for our sexuality.
Furthermore, South Asian culture has a long history of being conservative when it comes to sex, which becomes more accepting for men as they mature, yet for women stays consistently dormant.
Our sexualities are our hidden identities that we suppress when we let society dictate its meanings and rules.
- Don’t have casual sex.
- Don’t masturbate.
- Don’t watch porn.
- And, of course, retain your virginity in order to stay “pure.”
And, when it comes to claiming how women have more to lose from casual encounters than men, our sexuality is rendered unimportant, unnecessary, and all around dirty.
In light of this misleading institutionalized societal misgiving of women’s sexualities, we need positive role models to assure women and girls that the sexual feelings we have are not unnatural or slutty, and sometimes, those mentors turn out to be someone we never thought of, like Amber Rose.
Amber Rose’s foray into fame started on the arm of rap star Kanye West. She is a strikingly beautiful former stripper with an hourglass figure and trademark bleached blonde shaved head. Rose went on to model, appear in many music videos and created her own brand of fame.
She later married Wiz Khalifa with whom she has an adorable baby. But her fame has not come without backlash, especially regarding her sexuality. West famously said he had to take “30 showers” after dating her, and Wiz sang how he “fell in love with a stripper… fell out of love quicker,” on rapper Juicy J’s track, “For Everybody.”
Rose said she has been slut-shamed since she was 14-years-old, and the world still can’t get enough of judging her. Inspired by her life events and by a Toronto police officer who said women should avoid dressing like sluts if they don’t want to be raped, Rose took charge and organized a SlutWalk, which was recently held in Los Angeles. The march was full of confident women holding signs and flags, wearing shirts or no shirts, and proudly promoted sex positivity.
Rose, herself refuses to adhere to a label. She is a mother and a sexual being who unabashedly attends public events wearing clothing bearing labels such as slut and whore, in an effort to desensitize the words associated with sexual policing.
After following Rose on Instagram, I found an unlikely hero in her. She regularly posts pictures in whatever the hell she wants to wear and promotes positive body image in her look, which is a self-proclaimed far cry from mainstream standards. She bashes the media for slut-shaming her, especially as a mother. She posts pictures of her supporters either fully clothed or topless with captions such as, “I’m never asking for it,” and “my pussy, my choice.”
Most importantly, she promotes the mindset that women can embrace their inner freak shamelessly, and within their control.
The SlutWalk sent an important message to men and women of all ages to end sexual policing and acknowledge a woman’s right to her choices, despite antiquated societal standards.
While there are a few people who prefer not to embrace the word slut in a positive manner, it should be known that this word is just a messenger to the broader significance of the movement.
It is important for us to have conversations with each other about our bodies, decisions, and health. I have had many friends in college who spiraled out of control once they were suddenly given freedom to make their own choices and often those choices were made in unbridled, uncalculated haste.
Rose is not society’s ideal role model because she chooses to break the rules and embrace her individualism. And, whether or not we choose to incorporate her ideology or not is up to us, but the one thing the celebrity does do, and we can be happy about, is start the conversation we all need to be having.
Nikita Redkar is a freelance writer in New York City who currently interns for Fusion Network where she writes about diversity in pop culture and how it’s shifting the current landscape of racial and gender politics. When she’s not writing, she is taking classes in sketch comedy and reading bizarre astronomy theories. She likes cute animal gifs and dislikes long walks on the beach, plagues, and other cliches.