Author’s note: “Womyn is my preferred way of spelling woman because we can be without man.”

Growing up in a single-parent household, my mother raised my siblings and I very chaste. Legs crossed, long skirts and buttoned-up blouses were what we were told to wear. I was raised by a mother who believed that womyn who covered themselves up had more confidence than the womyn who dressed down. I was loved by a womyn who thought that womyn who were overly sexual had no value for their bodies. As a young womyn I was encouraged to look up to womyn such as Lauryn Hill, not Lil’ Kim, Nia Long not Nicki Minaj, Michelle Obama not Missy Elliot.

I was told that classy was covering up. In high school, I was told to put “Class in my Sass.” I was taught that I had to cover up to not distract boys or send the wrong message. I was educated that a confident womyn is one who conceals her body.

I believed this until I was sexually assaulted in college.

I followed the rules. I covered up. I smiled when complimented. I didn’t walk by myself at night. I watched my drink. I trusted Him. I did everything that womyn are told to do. Even after the situation, I tried to tell myself how it was my fault because I led him on or flirted. I attempted to find some sort of rationale as to why he didn’t stop when I told him to. Was my skirt not long enough? Were the buttons on my blouse mis-buttoned?

Womyn’s bodies aren’t encrypted in Braille as if we must be touched to be understood. The fact is, what happened to me was in no sense, nor will ever be, my fault. Rape predates crop tops, mini skirts and leggings. Rape is never the victim’s fault.  

I realized that no matter what we do as womyn to prevent sexual assault, it should not be our responsibility to stop those who commit the crime in the first place. I recognized the double standard in our society when it comes to men and womyn as sexual beings. Womyn are forced to constrict ourselves, our bodies, yet are blamed when we are attacked. Womyn can’t even breastfeed their children without public shame. Womyn aren’t even allowed to have multiple sexual partners without cruel criticism. In today’s society, men are allowed to do whatever they want to do, even without consent.

This is wrong.

Feminists such as Amber Rose helped me realize that.

People attack this womyn because she chooses to accept her body as a vessel for creation and pleasure. She is unapologetic in her stance as a mother who still chooses to celebrate her body in her own way. Amber Rose has started movements such as #NoShame with her SlutWalk. She has helped bring attention to a new wave of neo-feminism that recognizes the ‘ProHo movement.’ Amber Rose has been an advocate for womyn with her Amber Rose Foundation that focuses on gender equality issues. She guest-hosted a panel on Larry King Now concentrated on sexual assault. If that’s not enough to be a powerful womyn, she also has her own late night show that centers on sex, hot topics and the life of Muva. The Amber Rose Show has guests such as Tip “T.I.” Harris, French Montana, Tess Holiday and The Game.

Simply put, womyn should be able to wear what they want, have sex with who they want, when they want and how they want AND still get respect.

Because of womyn such as Amber Rose, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, Rihanna, Kelis, Salt-N-Pepa, Floetry and Audre Lorde, I have identified as accepting this neo-feminism. Womyn should identify the different and beautiful ways of empowering themselves. If you choose to cross your legs or twerk, you can still be confident in who you are and love your body while doing so.

I love the womyn in my life for all they have taught me, but the way I choose to love my body is my own right.

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