RESPECT WOMEN

Amber Rose and Rap’s Slut-Shaming Epidemic

First came Kanye West, who said he needed “30 showers” after dating Rose, and now Wiz Khalifa, who called the mother of his 2-year-old child a “thot.” The hip-hop misogyny needs to stop.

03.06.15 12:19 PM ET

“I fell in love with a stripper / Funny thing is I fell back out of love quicker / They don't pay attention to the love anyway / They only concerned with what the haters say / Bottles be turning these girls into thots / Instagram turning these wives into hos.”

Wiz Khalifa dropped that not-at-all-subtle bit of unabashed bitterness in his verse on Juicy J’s single “For Everybody.” The track hit the Web this week and set off a firestorm in gossip circles, as the lyrics seem to blatantly diss Khalifa’s estranged wife—the infamous video vixen/model/Smirnoff pitchwoman Amber Rose. The two have been embroiled in a custody battle over their 2-year old son, Sebastian. But more than that, the song comes on the heels of some barbed tweets from Khalifa and a well-publicized diss from Rose’s ex-beau, Kanye West. Kanye went after Rose during an interview with Power 105’s “The Breakfast Club,” claiming, “It’s very hard for a woman to wanna be with someone that’s with Amber Rose. I had to take thirty showers before I got with Kim.”

“When she leaves you / ‘Cause she don’t need you no more / You feel like a fool / Don’t you call her no tramp.”

Betty Davis may have sang those immortal words about a woman who kicked a foolish man to the curb, but they also apply to these superstar rappers who seem to believe the best way to attack a former lover is to paint her with a scarlet letter for all the world to see. Amber Rose was a stripper. Amber Rose was a video girl. Amber Rose posed in men’s magazines and was topless on beaches. Amber Rose is a “slut.”

Wiz married this woman. He said in 2012: “I love my baby. She’s gorgeous and it makes me look even cooler when I show how much I love her to other people.” It was Rose by West’s side during the aftermath of his mother’s 2008 death—now she’s some disgusting wench?

Amber has said that it was Wiz’s cheating that drove a wedge between them and ultimately ruined their marriage. She’s also accused Kim Kardashian of sending photos to Kanye West while he was still with Rose. The infidelity of these male stars is, it seems, a mere footnote compared to Rose’s past and titillating image. This is par for the course in American culture and evidence of the double standards everyone is familiar with; a double standard that is endorsed seemingly everywhere in our society and in everything from rap lyrics to religious rhetoric. Because you’ve seen Rose topless, because she’s dared to twerk for Instagram, and because she wears sheer dresses on red carpets, to many observers, West and Wiz have the high moral ground to slander her as a mother and as a woman. They are more than willing to publicly stone a woman they used to love because patriarchy has conditioned them to believe they have that right as men.

In the case of West in particular, he goes to great lengths to shield his beloved wife from any and all slings and arrows. How dare they refuse to give Kim a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as Yeezy alleged last year during his now-classic appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live? He cracked jokingly about his wife’s history of dating wealthy black men at BET Honors last month. 'Ye seems quite “evolved” when it comes to Kim—never allowing the fact that she’s a woman with a highly-sexualized public image sway his devotion or mute his public fawning over her. Obviously, Rose is an ex and not his wife, but it is reprehensible for Kanye to attack her with juvenile slut-shaming when he knows that Kardashian faces those same kinds of attacks daily. Regardless of any bad blood between Rose, West and the Kardashians, the hypocrisy is staggering.

In the case of Wiz Khalifa, custody battles are ugly and difficult. But most divorcing parents don’t have the option of recording verses that will be heard by millions of people and using that as a weapon. Hip-hop can be blood sport and there are enough scathingly personal diss tracks on record to serve as evidence of that, but this is about family. Regardless of how any of this plays out, Wiz and Amber will always be father and mother to little Bash, and now he will always know that there is this song that Daddy recorded about Mommy. For all of the “You’re a mother!” hand-wringing that occurs every time Amber dares to tweet a sexy selfie, the thought of Poppa Wiz releasing a spiteful lyric while in the middle of a custody battle—and as photos surface of him making it rain on strippers while coping with his “pain”—is sad and pitiful. You’re a dad now, Mr. Khalifa. Act like it.

“After all these years I never snitched on u and I don’t plan on starting now. We once loved each other so I won’t do u like that,” Rose tweeted following Kanye’s “Breakfast Club” interview.

The public rarely stands up for black women who are at odds with famous black men. There are Kanye fans who will defend every awards show interruption and every outlandish interview; the fact that he decided to call his ex-girlfriend a whore isn’t something that many of them will deem worthy of backlash. But the misogyny in so many rappers’ lyrics—and the misogyny that permeates pop culture far beyond hip-hop—is only a symptom of a deeper societal sickness. Male privilege, the Madonna/whore binary we are fed almost the moment we become aware of gender roles—it all plays out it plain view when men have to step over their bruised egos to face women who have hurt them and who they’ve hurt.

But we can be honest about that and call out these superstar men with the fragile egos of adolescent boys.

Amber Rose is hot. Amber Rose is also a mom. Amber Rose was also a wife. And if T.I. can be a convicted felon who’s rapped about sex, guns, and drugs and still be “father knows best” on The Family Hustle once a week, why is a sexy woman suddenly an unfit mother just because she posts photos in her lingerie? If you don’t like what you think she represents, make sure you’re just as vocal about these less-than-angelic men raising children while bragging about one-night stands and trappin.’ If they’re just entertaining and expressing themselves, then so is she. If they’re just living up to an image and a brand, then so is she. And if you can recognize and praise their hustle, then just call her a hustler.

But don’t you call her no tramp.