Amber Rose brings the SlutWalk to Syracuse

Amber Rose discussed empowerment and body positivity at the Women of Distinction ceremony this week.

In the Goldstein Auditorium on Wednesday, the Theta Xi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. hosted Women of Distinction 2016 with a single honoree: Amber Rose. This event traditionally honors women in mainstream media who have made a significant contribution to empowering other women, and this year’s event focused on sexual violence, victim blaming, slut shaming and sex negativity.

Amber Rose is the creator of a “slut walk” campaign, a movement in which women walk in solidarity against slut-shaming. On Wednesday night, Rose spoke at a question and answer session, speaking with students about her past relationships, her childhood, sex and why it is important for women to reclaim their sexuality.

The fraternity surprised the star with their own version of the slut walk, which featured a topless SU female student marching through the auditorium with other students in little to no clothing. This honored Rose’s message of sexual liberation, a gesture she said she appreciated.

Public health student Ramona Yun, who participated in the walk, said she felt empowered participating in the march.

“Walking down the aisle and not feeling pressured or judged was amazing,” Yun said. She added that she enjoyed Rose’s talk and that she believes Rose has a powerful message for the future of feminism.

During her talk, Rose explained how name calling and slut shaming worked, especially when famous, but also in general.

“Let’s say you go on a date and the date was whack,” Rose explained. “And you want to go another date the next week but now you are literally a big time hoe because you went on two dates in one week.”

Rose continued to explain that she understood that she wasn't the only woman or person going through this this issue and this prompted her to start the slut walk.

“This is how I take back the name calling. This is why I embrace the derogatory names,” Rose said.

At the beginning of the event, the fraternity members made sure to announce the room was a safe space for audience members to speak and share, which prompted an audience member to share her past history as a sexual assault survivor.

The young woman, who said she respected Rose’s works, added that she was grateful for the empowerment Rose has given her to speak on her past history with abuse.

During the question and answer session, a student asked Rose how she could avoid seeing race when it comes to feminism, leading to debate in the auditorium. Rose, who identifies as biracial, responded by saying that she supports all women, and that statistics say that one in four women are assaulted not one in four black women.

Lauren Melendez, who graduated from SU, found Rose’s exclusion of race to be a problem, feeling that she failed to understand intersectional feminism.

“To not acknowledge that race is a factor is a problem because black bodies have historically been the most exploited bodies of any other group,” Melendez said.

The lively discussion of race and gender continued as student Anna Magnuson challenged the men in the room on their actions outside the room.

“Outside of that auditorium some of those men refer to women as hoes [and] shame them for having sex and celebrating their bodies.” Magnuson said.

Student Allie Tsahey appreciated the dialogue that the event encouraged, and hoped that Rose could develop more of her ideas to get people with other perspectives to become more understanding of it.

Rose ended the talk by stating that she was going to do whatever she could to continue this movement and promote positivity for women.

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