In an article I wrote months ago, I spoke to the internet about why Amber Rose is important. I emphasized that although she is not an Assata Shakur quoting feminist, she is still using her celebrity to change the conversation on sex and shame. I love that she's not concerned with the first and second waves of feminism, but cares more about the double standards women face for their clothes, leaked nudes, even for having sex and enjoying it. Although Amber Rose doesn’t burn bras, or wear a dashiki, it has become clear that her message on shaming women and their bodies is in direct opposition with everyone’s favorite afro-centric mother Erykah Badu. For someone who is revered as one of the most woke artists of our generation, Badu has recently made some basic comments about the nature of men vis-a-vis women and our sexuality.
On Monday night, Badu posted a series of controversial tweets agreeing with a New Zealand school that enforced knee-length skirts for girls in order to “stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.” One of her tweets read “Men and women both go thru cycles of arousal. Men automatically are attracted to women of childbearing age.” This is disturbing. She is saying that naturally boys and men, even educators hired to teach and protect girls, fall victim to their nature and are distracted by girls who have reached puberty. So, because girls are not yet aware of their power, they bear the responsibility of protecting themselves from what is inevitable: the complete sexualization of their bodies. Erykah stresses that she is coming from a realist perspective, that no matter what, women and girls will inevitably be the center of a man’s desire because of their bodies. Badu says that she “wants [her] daughters to understand this… to be themselves and wear what they like, yet be aware. Not ignore [gender] differences.”
This argument of "what our society should be" and "what our society actually is" cripples the freedom of our young girls. The fact that you tell a young woman, “wear what you want, say what you want, you are in control of your body,” but then in the next breath “but don’t show up on the bus with your cleavage showing or else you will be harassed” is a very confusing message. How did we go from giving girls autonomy, to stripping them of it because men don’t know how to control their nature? How do we change the conversation on shame and freedom if we always revert back to the archaic notion that if women cover up, we will not be a distraction and thus will be safer. Perpetuating this backwards message is not what changes society, paradigm shifts don’t come from consistently referring back to the same arguments. Meaning, we cannot be a society of woke people and still make comments that emphasize women’s bodies as the starting point in a series of inevitable societal issues. Changing the conversation means changing YOUR conversations. Changing your tweets, changing your Facebook statuses, changing the way you allow people to discuss the autonomy of women. Everything starts with us, and when you use your platform to perpetuate sexist rhetoric, your woke ass has failed.