Feministing Reads: How to Be a Bad Bitch

What was supposed to be the literary highlight of my year left a lot to be desired.

When Amber Rose announced that she was writing a book, I was excited. I love Amber Rose and I really anticipated being able to learn more about her first hand. When she announced the title: How to Be a Bad Bitch, and described as a “guide to life,” I was downright giddy. I had high hopes that this was going to be the best self-help meets tasteful tell-all book, ever. For me, this was thee literary moment of the year and when my copy finally arrived in the mail, I was so eager to get into it that I read the book from cover to cover in one night.

But with every turn of the page, I found myself waiting for something – the thing that would make this book an invaluable part of my dope, feminist book arsenal – that never came. There are some things that I really enjoyed about the book. But for every pro, there was something I would have liked to change. For example, it seemed really evident to me that Amber Rose wrote this book herself (as opposed to translating her ideas to a ghost writer who organized and wrote them). I was grateful that the book felt authentic, but I wondered if it had been rushed through the publishing process. Released in October, Rose references events that happened as recently as this summer. I can imagine publishers being eager to bring in the sales that are guaranteed to come with a big name like Rose, but I wonder if this affected the overall quality of the book? There were parts that felt really sterile, like she was writing for a group of middle aged women who don’t know what twerking is.

The glossy pages of this book full of pictures and organized into 12 chapters that range from “Beauty” and “Inner Strength,” to “Money and Your Career” and “Sex.” In each chapter Amber talks candidly (but for the most part, broadly) about her experiences with the topic and offers some advice. One of the things I really enjoyed was reading about Amber’s childhood and other experiences growing up in Philly. She also had some really touching things to say about maintaining and appreciating your individuality; the importance of confidence; and honing in your personal vision for your life and taking practical steps to make that vision a reality. As I expected, Rose emphasized building a strong character as the foundation of being a bad bitch. One of the few gems in this book a list of “10 Rules to Live By” which include respecting service workers, being honest about your needs, and supporting other women. Not surprising advice from a woman who hosted her own slut walk earlier this year.

But on the other hand, there was some advice that didn’t sit well with me. For example, the majority of her chapter on money and career was about being nice and winning people over so that they’ll look out for you when you need them. Rose also emphasized that it important to make sure that your bills are paid before splurging on clothes and accessories. No shade, but anyone who has ever had a bill to pay knows that. I was surprised that there wasn’t more information on seeking out financial literacy resources or practical saving practices. Strangely there was no mention of navigating investors or endorsements, occurrences that are certainly part of Rose’s life as an entrepreneur and entertainer. While we obviously live in a culture that is obsessed with women’s sexuality, I find it hard to believe that “being cute” is what gets Amber Rose through million dollar deals.

Her sections on friendship, dating, relationships, and sex was also a mixed bag. Let me just come out and say right now that this book is heteronormative as hell, which was surprising given that Amber Rose has been open about being bisexual. This was one of the most disappointing elements of the book. Accepting hard truths from your friends and saying no to a Yes Man? Great. Having a gay best friend because they are somehow more real and courageous because they’ve had to come out? Not so great. If a guy is an asshole to you on the first date, feel free to curse him out and leave? Great advice Amber! Your date is going to treat you how you dress, so be mindful of that when getting ready? Wait, I thought you just hosted a slut walk against that type of thinking. Get tested with your partner and always use condoms? Absolutely. Not sending nudes because a fuckboy might leak them? That’s actually pretty good, too. This book was full of highs and lows.

To be fair, I do think that some of the contradictions are the result of what I predict was a quick turnaround in publishing. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I can admit that I was expecting more info on how Amber is adjusting to the limelight; how she and Blacc Chyna figure out what club to go to on a Friday night; how she experiences motherhood with such a hectic schedule; more about Kanye West being an asshole to her; or how she met Wiz Khalifa. I wanted more tea! But that’s a very personal gripe and I know that there are some people who can benefit from understanding the importance of Spanx, and appropriate makeup for differently lit settings. And even though the book wasn’t “deep” enough for me, it was still a cute read.

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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