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Why did #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch hurt so much?

Amber Rose’s clapback tapped into some feeble masculinity

#FingersInTheBootyAssBitch is one of the best hashtags of recent memory, but a guy shouldn’t be all that afraid of his arse anyway

If you pay any attention at all to the Internet, you will no doubt have been confronted this week with the hashtag #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch. The now-iconic clapback came courtesy of Amber Rose, who was unwittingly dragged into a Twitter feud which erupted between her ex-lover Kanye West and ex-husband Wiz Khalifa over the retitling of West’s Waves. In a scathing, now-deleted rant of 26 tweets, West began by insulting Khalifa but soon mentioned Rose, jeering “4th you let a stripper tap you… 5th I know you mad every time you look at your child this girl got you for 18 years.” The tweets were in reference to the son that Khalifa and Rose had together while they were married, and insinuated entrapment on Rose’s part. The model, seemingly unfazed, replied with “Awww @kanywest are u mad I’m not around to play in your asshole anymore? #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch” – a completely brilliant response that sent the internet into meltdown.

Despite Rose’s tweet being blasted as “crude” by various outlets, her shot hit hard and West subsequently deleted his rant, prompting another response from Rose: “Lol @kanyewest now u wanna delete ur tweets cuz Muva has arrived? #TwitterFingers #UrGettingBodiedByAStripperN***a”. Of course the Internet was quick to react – screenshots were taken and the story was posted all over cyberspace, with Etsy sellers cashing in quickly and printing the hashtag on all kinds of merchandise.

Even West took note, this morning tweeting a statement which denied the accusation of “butt stuff” – “Exes can be mad but just know I never let them play with my ass… I don’t do that… I stay away from that area altogether…”. But the damage has been done. Rose has emerged as the unlikely hero of the feud, but what was it exactly that made her tweet hit so hard? In a world where sex is constantly discussed, why are men still so quick to deny “butt stuff”?

Maybe it’s because of the various images we’re fed in porn. Let’s face it, we all watch it – Diesel has hosted its latest ad campaign on Pornhub, there’s an entire art movement emerging around the creation of feminist porn and critically-acclaimed photographers like Nobuyoshi Araki frequently depict visual narratives of intercourse and bondage. Most of us get experimental with our sex lives, but it’s rarely shown in the male-centric world of porn which usually focuses on the male orgasm. Men are the ones that penetrate – they naturally assume the active, ‘masculine’ role, so the minute they’re entered they become passive, “feminine”. Men going down on women is also a touchy subject – one which Lil’ Kim brilliantly underlined in her 1996 classic “Not Tonight” – because it indicates a man performing a service for the woman.

West has built his media persona on a dominant, strong-willed image – one quickly disappears when you imagine Rose slipping a pinky inside. Rose’s hashtag is telling, it even includes the word bitch that has, over the years, become an insult leveled uniquely at women. #Fingersinthebootyassbitch implies more than just a sexual preference, it implies that she is the penetrator, the one in control, and that Kanye is submissive, arguably the reason that he was embarrassed enough to publicly deny the accusation.

“Her response was sassy, concise and had endless meme potential, but it also demonstrated that emasculation is still the weapon that hits hardest”

His quick dismissal was a hilarious example of a “dominant” male reacting to emasculation, but it also linked back to the argument that many men vehemently deny anything anal for fear of being labelled gay. After all, what’s the difference between a finger and a penis, right? It doesn’t help that hip-hop as a genre has been extremely slow to incorporate diversity of sexual orientation. Think back to the cliché rap video and you think of a man surrounded by scantily-clad women. You might think of the various homophobic slurs threaded throughout rap, or you might even think of male friendships being quickly justified by the notorious “no homo”. Angel Haze wrote an illuminating piece on homosexuality in hip-hop, claiming that even now it is a “really stigmatised” industry, going on to argue that gay and queer rappers are singled out, placed in the category of “gay rapper”. Not only did Rose’s comment hit hard because it was theoretically emasculating, it hit even harder because it was theoretically emasculating in a field filled specifically with men that could be vilified for femininity.

Finally, the last thing we can take from West’s rant is his derogatory “stripper” insult also reinforces the problematic notion that once a woman strips or engages in sex work, this defines her identity by default. Rose has penned a book entitled How to be a Bad Bitch, campaigned for womens’ rights and become a driving force behind sex-positive feminism – all whilst being a single mother to her child with Khalifa. She has also reclaimed her sexuality on numerous occasions (see the brilliant “Slut Walk” for proof), and been honest about her experiences stripping, claiming it was “the best time of her life”. Yet despite this, men that once claimed to love her frequently use her past as ammunition against her. This isn’t the first time it’s happened – Rose previously broke down on stage when talking about the years of slut-shaming she has been subjected to, and even forgave West and Khalifa for their relentless comments.

In some ways, Rose unwittingly became a symbol for women dragged through the dirt for exhibiting the qualities that see women branded “sluts” – expanded upon brilliantly in the essay she recently published in the wake of the media whirlwind. Her response was sassy, concise and had endless meme potential, but it also demonstrated that emasculation is still the weapon that hits hardest. She illuminated the fragility of masculinity, especially in hip-hop, and also demonstrated that she refuses to have her name tarnished. Rose proved that she isn’t “just a stripper”, she’s someone pushing against a society determined to write her off for her apparently “salacious” past. The bonus for us is that this has been really really funny.