When rapper Wiz Khalifa announced that his girlfriend Amber Rose had accepted his marriage proposal, the collective teeth sucking could be heard across the nation. For the number of times I saw the words across my Twitter feed, I'm amazed that "h*e" and "housewife" didn't become trending topics.
If you are not a close watcher of Black popular culture and may be confused as to who these interesting looking young people are, Wiz Khalifa is the chart-topping rapper behind the 2010 smash "Black and Yellow" and a number of other songs that are more popular in White frat houses than they are around the way; Amber Rose is a former-stripper turned Kanye West-muse turned pin-up girl known for her exotic look, remarkable curves and bald fade.
Let's add that up: former stripper girlfriend of rapper becomes another rapper's girlfriend. Rapper number two liked "it" (I'm thinking "it" in this case would be her mind, body and soul, but some disagree) and so he put a ring on it….OMG WAIT WHAT? STRIPPERS CANT GET MARRIED! THEY TAKE THEIR CLOTHES OFF FOR MONEY! FOR MONEY! NOT FOR FREE LIKE THE REST OF US! Even ex-strippers have the permanent scent of Eau d' Hoe on them forever, so the fact that Amber isn't a current stripper doesn't matter. And, perhaps worse, she used to go with Kanye West and NOW she goes with Wiz Khalifa! You can't date two people in the same industry! That makes you a groupie-slut-trick-tramp-trollop! Doesn't matter if the woman in question is traversing in celeb circles and might not be seated next to Joe the Mailman at the club these days, dating more than zero rappers (or ball players or actors) makes you a chickenhead…and she dated TWO of them! That's far more than zero.
If the sarcasm didn't drip allover your laptop screen, those aren't my thoughts on the matter. Yet that has been the constant narrative around Wizamber (Khalirose? I hope they don't name their daughter that) since the two started courting just over a year ago.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not naive enough to believe that every woman who ends up with a famous man got there simply out of love and affection. I'm well aware that there are women (and men. AND MEN!) who swarm around successful folks aggressively trying to get swept off their feet and into the lap of luxury. Shame on them, for real. And shame on the men, the many men, who go out of their way to attract these sorts of women and then get indignant for their 'gold-digging' behavior. If you want the woman who would never want you if you weren't paid, then don't expect that woman to be any less than focused on her bottom line when you get her. Enjoy the eye candy and take it for what it is, or find someone who actually loves you for you.
That's the advice I'd give if I had a uber-successful rapper friend who was having trouble meeting women who really cared about him. That doesn't go for the average dude. Yet a lot of average dudes become the Kanye Khalifa's of their mind when a famous cat like Wiz or Kobe has some sort of relationship news. One would think that these guys are afraid that Amber is scheming on their pockets, despite any evidence that she's simply dealing with her now-fiance because of his paper. Its kinda funny. Dear Regular Dude: you don't have to worry over the Amber Roses and Kim Kardashians of the world because you couldn't get them to take half your student loan debt and plastic bottle liquor collection if you tried. Love, Reality.
But while the men certainly show some salty behavior in the face of stories like this, it is the women who have consistently come down the hardest on the Amber Roses of the world. I can't believe how many ladies were straight up horrified by the recent engagement news. I really didn't realize that we expected rappers to look for partners who live up to the Puritan values of womanhood: purity, piety, domesticity and submission. I really didn't think that we'd look at Wiz Khalifa and say "this is a brother who needs to be with a young Coretta Scott King". I really didn't want to think that my sisters were so hung up on this notion of virgins and whores and no in-betweens that we'd look past the fact that these two folks seem to really freaking love each other and choose to get hung up over Amber's past employment instead of saying "Look, a happy Black woman. That's what's up."
The real getcha getcha is that the shade is not always thrown from women who've kept their feet planted on the ground, legs crossed and bras hooked. No ma'am. There are glass houses with some serious stone damage around this Amber Rose situation. Just because you never danced on a stripper pole does not make you Betty Shabazz. Many of us non-strippers could tell some stories that would make our mothers blush…and remember that they, too, have managed to amass some stories while on this planet. And just because you did dance on a stripper pole (or a rapper's lap) doesn't mean you are now disqualified for the Love Olympics and you should be forced to walk alone, in shame, for the rest of your days.
The phrase "h*es stay winning" has gotten some traction with the youth in recent years and it comes up every time a woman of 'ill repute' like Amber gets lucky in love. Now, while I don't deny my own personal distaste for women AND men who are cheaters or liars or manipulators, I have to say that when you hear the word "h*e" lobbed at a woman…the real sentiment is often about her sexual autonomy. The fact that she is not owned by a singular person or a code of ethics that may not work for her. Perhaps these women are "winning" because they are choosing freedom over boundaries and personal pleasure over dated social constructs. .
The sexist shaming of women for being sexual is, well, a shame. The fact that women are almost as active, if not more active, in keeping these attitudes around feminine sexuality alive is just really tragic. There are so many shades of grey, we can't continue to color our sisters in black and white, virgin and whore. We can't keep holding each other to rigid standards that most women fail to meet and most men don't even attempt to match. You don't have to be a Amber Rose fan, but please don't act like the sister doesn't deserve to have a man who loves her because of her former profession and her ex-flame. She seems pretty happy with where her journey has taken her. Just make sure you can say the same.
Jamilah Lemieux is the News & Lifestyle editor for EBONY.com. She's on Twitter: @jamilahlemieux