Amber Rose, Tyrese, Rev. Run and the Problem With ‘Debatable’ Consent
Tyrese and Rev. Run's OWN talk show It’s Not You, It’s Men features the two offering what is billed as two perspectives — that of a single father (Tyrese) and a man who’s been married for 20 years (Rev. Run)— and together the two of them wade through the sometimes-treacherous waters of love and relationships with their keen, individual insights.
On the third episode, entitled “Modern Romance,” model Amber Rose was a guest. Presumably, she was there to talk about well, modern romance, but things turned dreadful pretty quickly when she somehow ended up having to break down what consent means for a seemingly befuddled Tyrese and Rev. Run.
Things kick off when Tyrese throws out a lazy analogy during the predictable “you get treated how you dress” routine, comparing women who dress sexy to basketball players...or something.
“Like, if you see a basketball player and he’s known as a basketball player, you’ll be like, ‘yo, let’s go play ball!’ I’m just saying, the comfortability that people find in wanting to touch and grope you...it’s an energy that’s being sent out there that creates that type of response.”
So ladies, if you’re on the receiving end of unwanted groping and touching, don’t fret! You’re being groped because of your “energy”—not because the man is pervy or violating you. You should totally fix your “energy” to avoid this pesky problem—maybe add a little tai chi to your daily routine?
Amber, of course, immediately refutes Tyrese’s "thoughtful" analogy about basketball players, with a simple, “That’s not the same thing, Tyrese. Y’all know that.”
Except… they don’t really seem to. In 2016, we’re still here having the same conversation about what consent means and when it is appropriate to touch a woman. Here’s a clue: it’s appropriate when she says it’s appropriate to touch her.
Amber is forced to further explain: “If I’m laying down with a man — butt-naked — and his condom is on, and I say, ‘You know what? No. I don’t want to do this. I changed my mind,’ that means no. That means f-ing no. That’s it... It doesn’t matter how far I take it or what I have on, when I say no, it means no.”
But guess, what? After she breaks it down there’s still, apparently, room for discussion about whether no actually does mean no. And apparently, this is still based on what the woman is wearing when she says “no.”
Before Amber’s lips even stop moving, Rev. Run is talking over her to make this point: “I’ve heard a quote like, 'dress how you want to be addressed.'”
Amber boos him. We all should boo him.
And no, this isn’t specifically about Rev. Run or Tyrese (which Amber later points out), or to throw them under the bus. It’s about the continued embracing of ill-informed societal norms that continue to permeate our consciousness and allow us to argue things that really, at this point, should be common sense.
For anyone still confused, this entire exchange is a perfect example of rape culture.
A woman can’t really mean no if she’s wearing something sexy or nothing at all? It's a cultural problem that suggests that a woman who dresses sexily when she goes out is doing it solely to entice unwanted groping for men… her “energy” asked for it. Patriarchal social standards condition us to believe that women must be taught not to show too much of their bodies because it could earn unwanted groping or even rape from men; instead of teaching men the very basic concept that, unless asked, it's always best to keep their hands and penises to themselves -- no matter what outfit a woman is wearing.
As utterly exhausting as it was, this exchange, which was rife with bad analogies and clueless expressions, was indeed a good one, if only because it sparked more discussion so that one day, just maybe, we can finally move the hell on from the subject. Or so that maybe, one day, we don't have to read about women like Janese Talton-Jackson, a 29 year-old mother who was shot and killed in January by a man outside of a Pittsburgh bar because she said "no" to his unwanted advances. Seem like a leap? It isn't. It's about the culture— the implicit and subtle validation of ideas that allow men to believe they have rights to women's bodies, and that a woman must somehow justify her right to say "no."
It’s even more fitting that this conversation came courtesy of Amber Rose, who is painted as the Queen B of all Slutty McSlutertons, because it exposes another very important facet of the conversation— the respectability issues about who is equipped to have it. If a woman is perceived to be a “slut” or dresses enticingly, is she respectable enough to talk about consent and unwanted advances from men? Which leads us nicely back to the main issue at hand— if a woman is perceived to be a slut, is she respectable enough to say "no?"
Pat yourself on the back if you answered “yes” to both questions. If you didn't, maybe you should go meditate. It's great for your energy.