Updated: Aug 30
As a Black woman, I've always had a HUGE problem with the word "hoe".
It's a shortened gendered pejorative for "whore", another word for "prostitute", a gendered pejorative for a woman who offers sex or sexual services/deeds for money. As with most words, hoe/whore/prostitute have evolved over time to mean a woman who "compromises herself" in any (sexual) fashion for (breathing, as well as) monetary gain. My focus is on women because while these terms in that aforementioned context can and have been used towards men, these words in all its meanings and contexts are 90% most commonly used against the group it was created to shame: WOMEN.
As a child born in the 1980s who came of age in the 1990s, there was no way to escape the word "hoe". It was, and still is, everywhere, from everyday language to the media and music I grew up consuming; as a Black girl growing up in a White Supremacist patriarchal society which pathologized everything about Blackness---including our sexuality---, and teaching that Black women are the least attractive in the world, yet also the most "promiscuous", it was drilled into me directly and indirectly that the worst thing I could be is a "hoe".
Not a murderer, a rapist, or a molester or a thief.
A "hoe". Aka, a woman who would dare seek to do what men have historically been allowed to do for centuries: own her sexuality and wield it however she sees fit, whether seeking sexual pleasure, or providing any sort of service that's remotely sexual for monetary gain. This, of course, is the nature of a patriarchal society: women are not recognized as fully realized human beings, but objects to be acquired and owned by men. I'd been questioned and attempting to separate myself from such a poisonous praxis for decades, but it was in my late 20s-early 30s that I fully embraced Black feminism, and sought to fully decolonize my mind and heart from sex negativity.
Which brings me to "SlutWalk".
You remember "SlutWalk", right? It kicked off in Toronto because some asshole cop told a woman that if she didn't want to be raped, she shouldn't "dress like a slut", sparking a protest and a movement by mostly White feminists to reclaim the word "slut". While there were some Black feminists on board with the original SlutWalk, the rest of us were like, "Ehhhhhhh, NO. That's not a word we're looking to reclaim. We never wanted it in the first place!" For decades, Black women have fought to be called "women" and not "slut", "bitch", "hoe/whore" and "female". White feminist supporters of SlutWalk failed to consider this in regards to creating solidarity with Black feminists, and so this was the first of many continuous issues that make true racial solidarity with Black and White feminists impossible.
I totally understood the rhetoric; marginalized folks have often reclaimed derogatory slurs and epithets to spite the White supremacist society that created said slurs and epithets and change their meaning. So at the time, I could only support the first "SlutWalk" only so much. There is no such thing as a slut, bitch, whore, prostitute, or hoe; these are all insults created by White and Black patriarchal men to insult women for owning ourselves for OURSELVES. I absolutely support any other woman, especially Black women and Non-Black Women of Color who decide to reclaim gendered slurs and epithets. We've done it with "bitch", and even "hoe", and the only thing that matters is that everyone realize that gendered slurs are not real constructs, patriarchal double standards are not based in empirical fact, and women deserve to be seen as human beings, and we are capable of owning our sexuality and wielding it any way we see fit.
Which brings me to the PRESENT!
In my quest to talk the talk and walk the walk of sex positivity, I started looking for any literature or media created by Black women on this subject, and turns out s few of the best ones I've found so far have embraced "whore" and "hoe" in their very brand identity! These women are very candid, honest, and unbelievably funny in their episodes recanting their wild sexual escapades, safe sex, relationships, and life, something that I never had around me growing up. I do say that I think my aversion to "hoe" has been weathering for some time now, and who knows...the day may come when I've worked on myself enough to facilitate a Foxy Heaux-rible Uprising of my own.