Friday, June 20, 2014

When They Say: "If She Does X is She a Ho?"

Not too long ago I was talking about what I've come to call "modesty culture" (a topic I wrote about extensively in my "On Rihanna Teaching Me to Say No to Modesty Culture" piece). As I said in that piece, clothing choices are only one aspect of patriarchal control of women's bodies. Sexuality is a major component. I see this in no more succinct terms than when somebody asks: "If she does X is she a ho?"

If she has sex with a dude she's not dating is she a ho? If she has sex with a dude who doesn't call her back is she a ho? If she has sex with more than one person in a week, month, or year is she a ho? If she has sex without emotional attachment is she a ho? 

The collective cultural fascination with labeling women as ho's is indicative of the need to find a reason to actively degrade and disparage a woman. 

Our actions don't make us a ho - a term that dehumanizes and disrespect women. A term that disallows personal agency and turns personal choices into ways to judge and demean, to justify violence, bullying and hatred.  

The ho label threateningly hangs over women from girlhood. Nobody wants to be a ho. And the greater point is that nobody is a ho.

Often folks try to conflate talking about sexual health with the issue of whether or not a woman is a "ho." That's faulty logic as sexual health is determined by healthy sexual practices. Not "body count" or whether sex was done with "emotions" or within the confines of a committed relationship. 

Emotional health is also a separate issue. It should be discussed and considered whether an individual woman is emotionally ready for sex. However, this should be done without shame or judgment. Women are individuals. And as such only that individual woman would know when she's ready for sex. 

And it's an important discussion to examine the ways in which women might be manipulated or pressured into having sex before they are ready or with partners who are not caring. But it solves no problems by calling women "ho's" if they have a less than perfect sexual experience. 

The ho label is fundamentally about blame and shame specifically directed towards women. Folks may try to dress it up by feigning an interest in health or morality, but that's inconsistent with the actual impact of the term on girls and women. 

So to answer the question: "If She Does X is She a Ho?" No, if she does X she has done X and you ought to examine why you are invested in calling her a ho. 

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1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog tonight. I can't believe that you are only twenty-one years old. I'm so impressed with your critical thinking and your writing skill. Wondering, of course, where you went to college (since I'm in California). I feel like I could learn a great deal from you and I am old--ish!!