Just because a statement sounds good doesn’t mean it is especially accurate or particularly useful. So for all those that read Amber Rose’s recent comments about the purported double standards between her and Kim Kardashian’s past with Beyoncé’s present, I only have one question: The hell were y’all reading? Please advise.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Rose spoke of Kim Kardashian, with whom she recently mended fences with, and spoke of the criticism they both receive. However, Rose invoked the name of Beyoncé to argue her point.
Rose explained: “It’s bullshit, and this is the thing: They come at me and Kim so hard because I was a stripper and she had a sex tape. So if we could sing, it would be OK if we were on stage half-naked? We all love Beyoncé, but she’s on stage half-naked and twerking all the time, yet people say, oh, she has talent so she’s able to do that. We don’t have the talent that Beyoncé has, so we get criticized as former sex workers, but at the end of the day we’re just women—we’re all women—and we should all embrace each other. No one is greater. We’re all the same. So, to criticize us as incapable of being smart businesswomen because Kim has a reality show and I’m a socialite and we don’t sing is stupid. We’ve both been in movies, and we take our acting, business ventures, and everything else very seriously.”
In response, Beyoncé’s most rabid fans, known collectively as The Beyhive, swarmed Rose’s social media accounts to virtually snatch every strand of her hair from her head. Rose took to Twitter to try and clarify, first tweeting: “Was just speaking on Classism. Look it up maybe it applies to ur life. Don't take my words out of context. I cried twice when I met her Lol.”
Rose followed that with making it clear that she, too, is a part of the BeyHive, and that she referenced Beyonce because “she is the most talented and beautiful.”
None of that really negateswhy some took offense, though.
I get the crux of Rose’s argument in that women should all be treated the same, but there is a bit of a false equivalence here. Whether it is fair or not, Kim Kardashian’s celebrity will always be a polarizing issue because of what it represents to many: a democratization or cheapening of celebrity. Beyoncé is virtually the only kind of star we have who rivals the stardom of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Madonna had in the '80s. In those times, no Kim Kardashian could exist, let alone dominate pop culture.
Some will never get over that, which is why when it comes to Kim Kardashian, those people follow what Mama Joyce once told Todd on The Real Housewives of Atlanta: “Ain’t no river high enough. Ain’t no ocean deep enough. Ain’t NO desert hot enough to keep me off yo’ ass, baby.”
Even so, the fact is every person has the right to do with their body as they please. On the other hand, don't compare Kim Kardashian's lazy performance in a homemade sex tape to Beyoncé. Likewise, while some strippers should easily be a part of Cirque du soleil, it’s not the same work that Beyoncé or any entertainer of her caliber does. It simply is not.
Moreover, I don't care for the way Rose posits that a leotard – Beyoncé de facto onstage attire – as “half naked.” Rose is still learning certain language so while I think it is important to offer a bit of learning curve, nonetheless, her sentiment on its surface reads as progressive but in reality reinforces a very reductive look at the human body. Rose must’ve missed that Beyoncé, like any woman who dares to be sexual in any form or fashion, has been criticized by men like Mike Huckabee and Bill O’Reilly. Something sexual in nature does not make it immediately pornographic or immoral.
Sex workers should be respected. I’m for legalization for sex work and helping them have better access to healthcare and the like. That said, amateur bedroom footage and strip clubs are not one and the same when it comes to an entertainer infusing varying levels of sexuality in their work. There are levels and though no one should be so judgmental, again, there are levels.
As for Rose’s claims of classism, madam, Madame Kardashian grew up playing charades with Janet Jackson. Try again. Rose meant well, for this I am certain, but you cannot falsely conflate someone else’s work for your agenda. You cannot feign progressive attitudes towards sex and the human body and then offer the masses the very sort of condemnation the most prudish of prudes toss at any anyone showing parts of their body. You just have to be better.
I’m optimistic Rose will do just that, but as far as the lessons here are concerned, she’s more so the student than the teacher in this situation.
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the EBONY magazine column, Pop That, which chronicles the intersection of sex and pop culture.