The mother, author and activist talks to VIBE about her fourth-annual Slutwalk and how she teaches her son consent
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Captain Save A Ho! At least, so says Amber Rose.
During the day, Rose is just your mild-mannered mother to a cutie patootie 5-year-old. But at night she dons her highest heels, figure-flattering jeans (maybe Fendi, probably Fashionnova) and a cleavage-bearing top to walk the streets of Los Angeles, saving those besmirched with distasteful names thrown at a woman with the sexual appetite of a man. As the self-described “Michael Jordan of thots,” the 34-year-old has made it her mission to help women reclaim their sexual narratives regardless of the names spewed at her in the process.
For three years, Rose and her Rosebuds have gathered in Downtown L.A. for her annual SlutWalk. The festival, which started with 2,500 people, has grown to about 20,000 and is billed as a day of empowerment, education, and awareness about sexism and rape culture in America.
And while Rose’s efforts are valiant and well-intentioned, there are many who don’t deem her a “proper” representative for feminism or women’s rights. Maybe it’s her stripper past, her love of twerking, or her shameless parading of her voluptuous body. Either way, Amber has been called everything but her name in her quest to even the gender playing field, and you know what? She doesn’t give a f**k!
Sebastian’s mama dialed into a call with VIBE—where she greeted me with the warmest, “Hey babe!”—to discuss her annual SlutWalk and how she handles all the unsavory comments she receives. Being Captain Save A Ho isn’t easy, but somebody’s gotta do it, right?
VIBE: What will be different about this SlutWalk that hasn’t taken place in previous years?
Amber Rose: I would say that every year it grows. The first year, 2,500 people attended. The second year it was 11,000 people and the third year there were more than 20,000 people. This year it’s bigger. It’s more awareness. It’s more people understanding the narrative. It’s more inclusive. It’s not just for women. It’s for the LGBTQ community as well. It’s for straight men and for people from all walks of life. I love that we do the initial walk in the morning and then we have a full festival for the rest of the day from like 11 o’clock in the morning to like 5 o’clock in the afternoon. No matter who you are, you’re coming into a very safe place. You can wear what you want. You can talk to people who’ve been through things that you’ve been through. You’re gonna cry. You’re gonna laugh. You’re gonna dance. You’re going to have a very emotional day in such an amazing way and you’re going to realize that you’re not alone in the world. It’s a no judgment zone. We have zero tolerance for bullying. We have counseling and it’s really just a positive amazing day for everyone.
You proudly call yourself “Captain Save A Ho,” yet in the ‘hood that phrase is associated with men who adorn women who are “unworthy.” You’ve reclaimed that phrase. What does it mean to you now?
That’s the thing. I’m a woman. I took the power away. Now I’m saving the h*’s. [Laughs] H*. Slut. Skank. Whore. Those are all derogatory labels just thrown at women. It’s never thrown at a man.
“I’ve been associated with so many men I’ve never slept with.” —Amber Rose
And men can very well be whores, sluts, h**s. I know quite a few.
Yeah! And guess what? For a man, it’s almost a word of affirmation. It’s like they poke their chest out with pride if they’re a h* and they get b***hes. It’s a cool thing. But for us, if we take control of our sexuality, and even if we don’t. And that’s the crazy thing about it. It really doesn’t matter what we do—it’s the projection of negativity they just put on you. I’ve been associated with so many men I’ve never slept with. I’ve been branded as a h* when I’ve been in long-term monogamous committed relationships. They’re like ‘Ugh! Another boyfriend.’ I was just with someone for a whole year. I literally cried for five months. And I’ve moved on with my life. What do you mean? I’m not supposed to ever date again ever? I’m not supposed to find love? It’s just people being uncomfortable with the confidence we have as women or other women being uncomfortable with women saying, ‘Hey, this is what I want to do. This doesn’t have to be your thing but it’s my thing.’
Does it bother you when women perpetuate sexist ideas?
Oh my God, babe. It drives me f**king nuts! I also at the same time try to have patience and understand that these women have been raised their entire lives to think certain behavior is OK. And so I can’t really get mad, I just have to educate. And that’s what happened when I did the show with Tyrese and Rev Run. It was like, ‘Look, guys, I’m not mad at you because this is really all you know. But I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong.’ So I’m not going to scream at you. I’m not going to call you ignorant or a derogatory word. I’m just going to say that you’re wrong. And this is what’s right. I’m going to let you know what right is.
It is unfortunate to see women like that but it only comes from their own insecurities and it also comes from the fact that celebrity men are looked at as higher level human being because they have talent. And it’s like ‘He’s so talented. Why would he rape someone?’ or ‘He could have sex with anyone. Why would he do it to her?’ It’s not about sex, it’s about power and they don’t understand that. And that what the SlutWalk brings, which is the awareness to what’s happening. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean convince me.
It’s f**king sad and it really boils down to the men being like, ‘You know what. It’s okay that you don’t want to do this right now. I’ve no problem calling you an Uber or taking you home.’ This is where the awareness and the education come in because no one is obligated to f**k you. I’m sorry.
“Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean convince me.” —Amber Rose
No one. Slut-shaming. Victim-shaming. It’s all an indoctrination that affects everyone. Can you provide some examples of men who attended your SlutWalk and learned something?
Oh my, God! Babe. I know the girls are going to show up and I love my girls. But when I have the straight guys show up, and they have sayings written on their chests in pink because they have daughters and they have mothers and they f**king get it! Last year I was walking. We were doing the walk in the morning and it was an older white man—I want to say late ’60s—and he came up to me with a camera in my face and I’m not going to lie. I judged him. I thought he was probably some bible-thumping old man. He’s about to get on my a** so fast. And he came up to me with a camera and he said, ‘Amber. Please say hello to my daughter in Seattle. She absolutely loves you so much. She couldn’t be here this year but I came on her behalf. We love you. We love everything you’re doing for feminism.’ And I gave him a hug after that and I was like ‘I really judged you, dude.’ That’s when I realized that my SlutWalk is so inclusive that its people from all walks of life who f**king get it. And I know I’m making a difference every single year. Even though there are thousands and thousands of people that don’t get it. We are changing more minds every single year and we’re making a difference and that’s the most important thing.
How does Sebastian feel about your SlutWalk?
He doesn’t get it yet. He’s still very young and he doesn’t fully understand it yet. But I will say that I do teach my son consent at a very young age.
How do you teach him consent?
Culturally, I grew up Italian. I’m black, Italian and Irish. As Italians in our family, we kiss everybody on the cheek when we greet each other. Also, Wiz and I, and also all of Sebastian’s grandparents were very loving towards Sebastian. We kiss him. We hug him. We love him up all day. So when he goes to school, he kisses all the boys on the cheek when he greets them because that’s what he’s seeing in our house and all the girls he kisses them on the lips. This was actually last year when he started going to pre-school. I dropped him off at school one day and I saw that he went up and kissed a little girl, Natalie on her lips and he went to go kiss Stella on her lips and she said, ‘No Sebastian. I don’t wanna kiss.’ And he was almost forcing himself on her to kiss her. And I said ‘Baby, I know you want to kiss Stella. I know that’s your friend but when she says no, that means no, honey. And you’re not allowed to kiss her when she says no, okay?’ And he says ‘Oh, okay mommy.’ And then I said, ‘Well listen. If she says yes, then you give her a kiss and if she says no, then you say “Okay Stella.”‘ It’s starting already at four or 5-years-old where I have to teach him that when somebody says no, that means no. You have to fall back from that. I feel like as parents, especially with our sons, we have to teach them consent at such an early age because I don’t want him being a teenager forcing himself on a girl.
Do you think men don’t know consent or they choose when they don’t know consent?
I think that some don’t know. I’ll say that, and I think some do know and they use their power to get a yes when it’s not a hard yes.
You mean when it’s not a hard no.
Right, but also when it’s not a hard yes. Like, ‘Ah, okay.’ You know what I mean? It’s kind of like I feel obligated to do this because you are a powerful man. And women feel like I put myself in this situation and now I feel obligated to have sex with him because I pushed him too far. And I’ve been in those situations before where I’ve literally had sex with someone and I went home and I was like ‘Why the f**k did I do that?’ I did not want to do that. I should’ve just been like, ‘No, I said no I want to go home right now.’ But then I felt bad because we made out for a long time and I pushed him to the limit where he was ready to go and I was like ‘Ugh! God! I don’t want to do this. So I feel obligated now.’ But now that I’m older. It’s like no! F**k no! Don’t f**king convince me! Like, no means no. I’m not trying to do this. We hung out. It was cool. I don’t want to have sex with you bro.’ But you get to that point with just being fed up of being convinced. I don’t want to be convinced. I said no.
Why do you think there are so many people who don’t think you’re a “proper” advocate for gender equality?
I think that goes back to people being judgmental. Women being judgmental against me. It’s like, ‘She’s a stripper. She doesn’t know anything about feminism. It’s so ignorant that I just can’t take it. ‘She can’t keep a man.’ Is it I can’t keep a man or I just don’t settle? You can go and determine what the f**k that is. And what is keeping a man? You can’t keep a man that doesn’t want to be kept.
I feel like that’s the thing a lot of women put on me, unfortunately. Some of the things I’ve heard is ‘She makes excuses to be a whore.’ Or ‘She’s the Michael Jordan of THOTS’ I see that one a lot.
Yeah. It’s hilarious. And I get a lot of those things, babe. I laugh at those things and then I apply it to my Instagram captions. So I’ll post a picture and say “I’m the Michael Jordan of thots,” and I take the power away. They can’t hurt me anymore. It doesn’t work like that. I let it roll off my shoulders very easily and I take the power away because all they can say in the comments is ‘Well at least you know you are’ It’s like bro, I already said it. Shut up. [Laughs]