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When I look back at my diaries from middle school, I cringe, for several reasons really. I cringe reading about how much time I spent worrying about problems and people who I would later forget. I cringe remembering how I thought my teenage angst and subsequent attitude were so cool. But mostly, I cringe reading the number of times I referred to other women and girls as hoes.

In my 7th grade mind, every other girl was a hoe. If she flirted too much? Hoe. Let boys feel her up? Hoe. Dressed scantily? Hoe. If she lied about or actually had sex? Hoe.

I used the word so much that it wasn’t long before it became a term of endearment between my friends and I. And we legitimately thought this was cute. I’m embarrassed to write that. But thank God for maturity.

Because now I know better.

Somewhere along the way I woke up to the fact that the same behavior I used to interpret as hoe-ish was often celebrated when it had been executed by a man. And even though I never was and never will be interested in being a man, I’ve always been a fan of equality and the truth. So if it’s true that both men and women are sexual beings, why are we the only ones condemned for expressing that or acting on that?

The simple answer: misogyny and hypocrisy.

Misogyny so deep that men are no longer needed to carry it out. Women internalized it and oppress other women and even themselves with it. I learned to stop using the word hoe when I was made to feel like one or made myself feel like one for some of the same decisions the girls in middle school were making.

When I was determining what I did and didn’t feel comfortable doing in my dating and romantic life, it was the word hoe that kept coming to the forefront of my mind. If I wanted to wear something short or tight, I wondered if I would be perceived as a hoe and not even so much by men, but by other women, some of them friends.

And then, years later, when I began writing for this very site, stories where I was talking about harassment from men or sex, in the general sense, led to me being labelled as a hoe in the comment sections. All from people who not only didn’t know me but had never even seen me a day in their lives. But because I’m a woman, hoe is always on the table as an acceptable insult.

All those experiences helped me to unearth the true problematic nature behind the word hoe. It’s the fact that it can’t be escaped. No matter who you are, what you do or don’t do, to some person, with standards more stringent than yours, if you’re a woman, chances are you fit the description of somebody’s hoe.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve literally seen baby girls being called THOTS (Those/These hoes over there) online. The word is so pervasive, any woman or girl can be it, no questions asked.

And once you’re a hoe, that’s what you’ll always be to that person.

Just ask Rihanna or Taylor Swift. No one really knows how many men these women have slept with but the assumption is that there have been scads so, they are hoes.

Chris Brown, the most sparkling example of a disloyal man this country has seen in ages, writes a song proclaiming “these hoes ain’t loyal” and it becomes an anthem. No one questions the hypocrisy or asks if Chris Brown is referencing himself. We just bop to it. It becomes a catchy tag line in a sermon. And hand to God, I watched in horror as a girl, no older than four, sang that song with all the life she had her in little body, her mother cheering her on.

I said that once a hoe, always a hoe right? Perhaps I was wrong.

Recently, Power 105’s Charlemagne tha god sat down with Vlad Tv to do what he does best, discuss pop culture.

Vlad fires off a series of topics for Charlemagne to address. One of them was the recent engagement between Bow Wow and Erica Mena. And though he claimed he didn’t “give a f**k,” Charlemagne made an interesting observation about hoes.

“When a woman has a reputation and she has the reputation of a hoe, and she starts dating a man and that man starts to treat her like more than a hoe. Like we start to notice it. ‘Oh shit, Bow Wow be with shorty or Kanye be with shorty or oh shit Wiz is wifing up Amber or whoever.’ You start to look at the situation different, you start to realize maybe she’s not as wild and hoe-ish as we thought. Because it’s clearly some type of connection between those two individuals. And when you see a man…when you see a man doing that… When you see a man disregarding a woman’s reputation and being seen with her in public and telling everybody that’s his girl, he really likes that chick. And we need to take into consideration maybe this chick isn’t what we think. Because perception isn’t reality.  We don’t really know these muthafuckas. So you can’t be upset when you see a man do that because that says a lot about that woman. Maybe we’re judging that woman’s character all wrong. And also when you see a man do that you have to  know that that man really must like that woman. Because he’s saying ‘F**k what everybody’s saying about her’ ‘Fu**k what her reputation may be. I choose to be with her, this is my bae.”

I have a love/hate relationship with Charlemagne and feel the same about these comments. I hate that this is the way things are but I love that he told the truth.

When Kanye married Kim and when Wiz married Amber some of y’all were downright shocked. It just went against the laws of grandmama’s teachings. “You can’t turn a hoe into a housewife.” “No man wants a woman everybody else has had.” You wondered why these hoes stay winning.

Well… sometimes things just aren’t that simple. And maybe grandma lied to you because she didn’t want you out here sleeping with everybody. Contrary to popular belief, like Charlemagne said earlier in the interview you can turn a hoe into a housewife. 1. Because, as we’ve already established any one of us could be a hoe on any given day. 2. Because if these men are honest, they’ll realize she’s doing him just as much of a favor by accepting him despite the fact he’s been out here as well. 3. Because despite what the media would allow you to believe you, my fellow woman, are more than just your vagina and what you do with it. Just because you’ve spread your legs doesn’t make you devoid of personality, charisma, compassion or loyalty. All things that would make quite a good wife.

What I hate about Charlemagne’s words are the fact that a man has to be the one to “erase your hoeness,” (another phrase coined by Charlemagne as he was discussing Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose.) Funny how Amber was widely regarded as the hoe when Wiz was the one who was so disloyal…

Another woman can’t erase your hoeness. No one would believe her. In fact, they’ll assume she’s defending you because she too is a hoe.

You can’t erase your own hoeness because…it’s not up to you. Only a man can do that. Only a man can validate a woman by reminding other men that the woman he chose, and only her, is more than what she chose to do with her vagina back in the day. The rest of y’all are still hoes though.

Does the fact that women aren’t able to define themselves sound ridiculous to anyone else? Ridiculous? Yes. But not entirely untrue. The truth of the matter is, the way society is set up right now, with misogyny as the guiding light, Charlemagne is right. A lot of people, men and women alike, don’t value a woman until she’s been chosen and therefore validated by a man. We see it manifest itself all the time. Everyone from your auntie to the strange woman speaking to you on the train wants to know if you’re married or at least dating. Women are running around like chickens with their heads cut off waiting for a man to propose, so she can be validated. A baby mama is to be shamed but a woman who married, even if he treats her like trash, is at least somebody’s wife. She’s worth more.

Charlemagne’s words represent the truth about society right now, as it stands and as it has been for years, centuries, nearly the beginning of time. But it’s not a universal truth. It’s not the true way of the world. In all actuality, we’re all just people, not angels or demons, we just exist somewhere in between, trying to figure this thing out. And we don’t need to be labelled as  hoes during the process. At the end of the day, we, Black people know, more than anybody, that what someone says about us isn’t always true. We just have to change the way we think.

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