WHY I BECAME A HO

“You a ho!” One of the many phrases used to degrade the average woman’s sexuality and also alter her mental state. But what does it mean to be a “ho?” Your average Black guy in Philly would say “a jawn who got too many bodies;” bodies meaning the total number of sexual encounters a woman has had. A normal definition would probably be a woman who engages in promiscuous activities. But the question is: “how many bodies is too many bodies?” and “what level of promiscuity do you reach before you’re a ho?”

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Take the likes of Amber Rose and Blac Chyna. Both share similar pasts. They both have dated men in the rap game, they both have a child by a rapper, and they are currently both two of the most successful women in Hollywood because of their “ho” lifestyles. But to be quite honest, neither woman has done anything in their Hollywood careers to be labeled as a “ho.” They’ve both only been with two men in the Hollywood industry. Both are great mothers to their kids. And both have successful businesses, and now share a spot on late night television. But there’s one similarity from their past lives that helped to ignite peoples views of them being “hoes.” Their shared past is that they were both strippers. While I’m not sure whether Chyna’s stripping was for lifestyle, a hobby, or to support her family, I know that Amber’s was definitely to support her family. And after stripping, they both took up the urban model career, in which they did both music videos and photo shoots. But what is it about stripping that gets a woman labeled as a “ho?” While it is true that some strippers are looking to attain celebrity by stripping, and they’ll go to whatever lengths by sleeping with the highest of clients, there are those who don’t. Some women hate the fact that they have to strip, and it makes them feel degraded, while others love the fact that they can be themselves and flaunt their sexuality.

And one of the biggest questions I have come to ask myself is: “why can’t a woman flaunt her sexuality without being a ho?” A man can flaunt his sexuality and be labeled as a God. He can sleep with as many women (and men, if it comes down to that) as he wants, and still keep his pride and reputation. He may have a flurry of kids, whom he does not take direct care of and no one thinks about his role as a father. There have been a flurry of men in the Hollywood industry who have pasts in sexual assaults, rapes, and acts of perversion, and the rest of Hollywood treats them as if they have no history in it at all. This is because of societal patriarchy.

Patriarchy is the belief that there are strict gender roles in a society, and that male gender is the head of not only the household, but also society. Patriarchy is the reason why we are still saying the “first female to” in the 21st century. It is something that is upheld in almost every culture around the world, and for those who are religious, it is usually written that women are to submit to their husbands. Men are allowed to be sexual beings because of the fact that they are men, and they are the stakeholders in society. They tell us what is what is appropriate and what is not. Patriarchy tells you how to dress your daughters versus your sons. Patriarchy tells us that if a woman is dressed a certain way, then she was asking to be raped (helping us to only strengthen rape culture). And patriarchy tells women that if a man leaves her with kids and he does nothing to support them, that it’s her fault. So when women believe in patriarchy, it kind of leads me to believe that they don’t love themselves. But then again, patriarchy taught them that too. But it is not only patriarchy that helps to create this idea of “slut shaming.” The idea of who is coined a “ho” is also based on race and class, besides gender.

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So what do you call a bias in which both race and gender go hand and hand? You call it “misogynoir.” Misogynoir is misogyny directed towards Black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. Misogynoir is important to us because it teaches us that while there are men who hate women, there are some people (like Chris Brown) who specifically hate Black women. So how does misogynoir come into play in whether a woman is a ho or not? Well notice in pop culture today, who do we identify as the “hoes” of Hollywood? Black female celebrities usually, correct? Again, take Amber Rose as an example. Amber single handedly went toe-to-toe with Khloe Kardashian because of an opinion she gave on Tyga and Kylie Jenner’s relationship. One of the first things Khloe was quick to try to throw in Amber’s face was that she was a stripper and Khloe held on to that one fact and ran with it. Needless to say, Amber reminded Khloe of how her family came to their celebrity… by the success of Kim’s sextape. But honestly, look at the Kardashians. These girls have no talent whatsoever. They are literally only famous because of a sextape Kim did, and she one of America’s richest celebrities because of it. Both Kim and Khloe have histories of dating numerous men in the Hollywood industry (Black men, may I add), Kim posts nothing but nude selfies, the whole family does nothing but pose nude, and once again, Kim had a sextape where Ray J literally nu… never mind. Amongst all of these, when has anyone in Hollywood labeled this group of women “hoes?” Never. Proving the point that not only are women subject to being labeled as promiscuous, but Black women more specifically. Black women have been linked to promiscuity since slave times because of systematic legalities, and it has had everlasting effects since then. Misogynoir is the exact same thing that taught us that Miley Cyrus swinging on a wrecking ball was art, and Nicki Minaj dancing in a jungle was foolishness. It is what Taylor Swift and other celebrities failed to realize when Nicki Minaj voiced her opinion last year about lack of Black female nominations at the VMAs. What men and White women fail to realize is that they have privilege just in being them alone in terms of sexuality. They can be free and content with their sexuality, but Black women cannot because a Black woman embracing any aspect of not only her sexuality, but her Blackness, is taboo in our society.

So why am I and other men and women identifying themselves as “hoes?” We are reclaiming the identity that was stolen and made taboo for millions of women around the world. Women are using the word “ho,” in respects to the male version of the word “player,” and they aren’t apologetic about it. Men, such as myself, are using it to take some accountability in our part in this. We have single handedly pushed women to the point where they feel like they have to lower themselves in order to be noticed, be attractive, and to just get a date. And when they fulfill those ideas that men have implanted, they are told they are whores, sluts, and hoes. But no more. I’m a ho because being a ho means sexual liberation, gender equality, and most importantly, it means an end to a patriarchal and misogynoir-ial society.

Rasheed Davis