After Ayesha Curry tweeted her opinion on how women dress, I was not surprised to see a few childish “Hoes be like” memes in “support” of Ayesha Curry’s tweets sprinkled throughout my timeline. And all of these memes were on Black social media pages with mostly Black audience so the “hoes” in those memes were essentially referring to Black women (of course). It was so predictable but annoying nonetheless. Annoying like that loud ass kid in class who always got to crack jokes on someone in order to be amused. Annoying like biting into a glazed doughnut only to be met with the faint taste of onion because they put the damn things too close to the onion bagels. That kind of annoying. An unnecessary type of annoying.
Not once did Ayesha use the words “hoes” or “thots” but that didn’t stop people from running with the word anyway. But who are these “hoes” these meme-makers and meme-posters are referring to?
Single women. They’re referring to single women.
The word “hoe” has basically become another word for single woman at this point, the same way 3+3 is another way of saying 6. Like, “urban” is a code word for Black. Being single means you don’t have a male “protector” or guardian so people perceive you to be a vulnerable target for bullshit. That is why folks are always more comfortable bashing single women’s lifestyles but don’t really say much about what married women are doing. It’s also the same reason people nonchalantly speak recklessly of girls without fathers than of girls with fathers. Because man/male is the only physical form we are taught to fear and respect so the woman with the dude around is off-limits. But the woman with no dude around, can get slammed and disrespected all day, no holds barred.
However, the reality of a woman’s identity in this society is more along the lines of what a wise woman once told me: “In this game, we’re all hoes”. Being born with a vagina=you’se a hoe. Married or single or whatever else. The same way White supremacy sees all Black folks as “niggers” or somehow less than no matter what (i.e. if you paid, you still a “nigga in a coupe”), women-born individuals are all “hoes” under patriarchy. It is what it is. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we are or that we see ourselves as hoes, but as life shows us time and time again, how we see ourselves often has little to do with how the world views us.
In this world, we are broke hoes, well-paid hoes, sweet hoes and hoes with attitudes, ratchet hoes, straight hoes, gay hoes, classy hoes, earthy hoes, “woke”/conscious hoes, hoes with babies, hoes with no babies, saddidy hoes, Afro wearing hoes, weave-wearing and permed hoes, mixed girl hoes, and “just regular Black” hoes, educated hoes, street cred hoes, feminist hoes, patriarchal hoes, contract hoes (married) and freelance hoes (single), smart hoes, dumb hoes, cute hoes and not so cute hoes, crazy hoes and emotionally stable hoes, “good girl” hoes and bad girl hoes, side hoes and main hoes, hoes with good credit and hoes with bad credit, potential hoe/virginal hoe, and on and on. We are all considered hoes in this system. And most of us have felt a lot of pressure to prove that we are the special exception to the rule and not like the “next girl”, who is always the “real hoe”. Don’t let J.Cole lie to ya’ll- there is no difference in the eyes of the average man. Yes, there are a few men with enough self-awareness and courage to see women outside of the context of her sex life, but there aren’t nearly enough of them to flip this sexist game on its head. Women are defined by our relations to men- how many of them we have been with, if we’ve been with any at all (called a virgin), if we’re claimed by one through marriage or if we’re not claimed and are single, if we have reproduced with a man or if we’re childless, if we’re a “fatherless daughter” or a “daddy’s girl”. We are not seen as complete humans unless there is a way to define us through the lens of our connection with a dude.
I didn’t get the impression Ayesha Curry was being malicious or trying to be mean in her tweets. It’s unfortunate that she had to clarify that her tweets were not meant to be an invitation to degrade other women, because that is exactly what happened. Though, I’m not sure how she didn’t see that coming. Married women do enjoy a level of status over single women as they are revered as the wise and all-knowing authority on how all things should be between men and women so often the things they say-especially when it’s in line with the status quo- is held as Gospel. But married women and single women live two different lives and unless a single woman is actively seeking the advice of a married woman, or vice versa, then the two worlds don’t have a lot to do with each other. And that’s ok.
The games we play on each other as Black women are cruel and exhausting. I don’t know if we realize it’s a game and don’t care or if some of us are really this damn stupid. If it’s the latter, then I think Black women would do well to get hip to motherfu*king game. The fact that almost all of the memes were posted by Black women shows that a lot of us must enjoy the mistreatment and mistreating each other. Why do men need to disrespect us when we do a fine job doing it to each other? Must be where they learned it from. I guess it makes life interesting, somehow. Gives life purpose. A cheap laugh at another person’s expense. I don’t know. It’s similar to the crabs in the barrel analogy we use to explain divisions within the Black community. But for the women who actively engage in this no-win divisive game, just know that the rules will always flip and be used against you, too. So, if you want to play that game, do you, but just be damn ready to play the game all the time, even when it’s your ass on the receiving end of the shit talk.