In promotion of her new podcast, gospel singer and radio host Erica Campbell shared a theory that has the internet talking.
“You can’t sow Hoe seeds and reap marriage benefits. Your brain and body don’t switch like that. You gotta prepare your mind for marriage because it’s a ministry.”
In the caption for the post, Campbell wrote:
“You will crave what you have put in practice. Can’t wait for y’all to hear my podcast. Ooohhh we gon talk!!! #marriage #monogamy #marriageminded #prepareyourself”
I understand that Erica’s platform as a podcast host is different than the one for which she’s known—as a gospel singer. Still, I do wonder why this is the mantle she chose to carry. Maybe she knows and understands that sex, relationships, and the ever-dangling carrot of marriage (especially for women) get the people going.
After all, her comments about masturbation being impure caused quite a stir. And if she wanted to garner attention for her new venture, this obviously did it. But that commentary alone is a bit sad.
For centuries, there has existed this narrative that women fall into two categories. Good, virginal, submissive, demure, pure and the opposite. Bad, defiant to the authority of men, aggressive, “sexually immoral.” When in reality, women–just like everyone else–are multidimensional beings. We cannot be boxed in to simplified, one-dimensional categories.
It’s a shame that in 2020, with everything else going wrong in the world, we are still falling into this trap of comparison, exalting one woman at the expense of another—with the validation of a man being the ultimate prize.
This type of comparison is not only patriarchal and dangerous in nature, it’s inaccurate. First all of all, the use of the word “hoe” is arbitrary. What is a hoe? Is it someone who has premarital sex? Is it someone who has multiple sex partners and doesn’t feel guilty about it? Is it someone who celebrates and embraces her sexuality? Is it someone who has engaged in sex work? If so, we can point to several examples of women like this who have gotten married. And maintained successful marriages or partnerships.
There are women who have done “everything right.” They’ve followed the rules and still have not been granted that prize. Or—far more common. They’ve done everything right, followed the rules and have gotten married only to find that marriage deeply, spiritually and even sometimes physically unsatisfying.
Furthermore, why is this notion that “flipping a switch” can’t be applied to the ways the church currently discusses sex and sexuality? Which is to either avoid it entirely or demonize it.
Rarely, do we hear people still deeply entrenched in the church say it is hard to go from virginal and pure to being sexually expressive—even in the context of a marriage ordained by God. If there’s anything about this post, I agree with it, it’s that flipping the switch can be difficult. But I’d argue that your sexual behavior and having the capacity to maintain a marriage don’t always go hand in hand. Maintaining a marriage, being honest, committed, loyal to someone is more about mindset than sexual promiscuity.
The problem with Campbell’s post more than anything is the fact that so many churched women view marriage as the ultimate prize, a sign of favor from the Lord. And in order to achieve it, they devour messages that are harmful to themselves and the women around them.
I’ve never sat in a church when someone spoke honestly enough to say that there’s not a formula to life and there certainly isn’t one to love and marriage.
You need look no further than all of the scandals that take place in church to see that formulas don’t dictate a successful marriage. There are women who were marriage-minded and still ended up with partners who don’t take the institution seriously. And there are people who the world might have called “hoes” who were healed enough, mature enough and committed enough to make a marriage work. For as much as the church would like to speak to the “hoes,” they can start within their own ranks. Because more often than not, when the “hoes,” –who are most often men– appear behind a pulpit, instead of calls for accountability and “hoe” rhetoric, there are messages of grace and forgiveness.
Furthermore, the church can also acknowledge that with fallible human beings and institutions as complicated as love and marriage—1 +1 doesn’t always equal 2.
Erica Campbell’s post is emblematic of the church’s problem at large. Instead of dealing with people’s psyche, their brokenness, or lack of healing, we zero in on the sexual promiscuity of women and attach it to every blessing or every curse.