TARGET HITS THE BULLSEYE

Target Ditches Gender Labels on Toys, Home and Entertainment

Today’s Tackling Tomfoolery GTFOH Award goes to those having fits over Target’s decision to remove gender labels from toys, home products, and entertainment items.

If the idea of a lack of signage pointing you to the toy you want to buy for a child based on gender is stressing you out to the point of indignation, protest, and potential boycotting, I feel it wise to advise you a long rest, a mild sedative, and some nice calming tea are GIRLprobably best for you. Did you walk in to buy Legos for your son today? Guess what! You can still go in Target and buy them for him.

For years, little girls have been relegated to playing with little baby pots and pans, plastic bacon and eggs, and little teapots, sans tea, in miniature scale kitchens while wearing some sort of baby apron all while the little boys were outside erecting structures, adventuring, and pushing G.I. Joe action figures over the mountainous desert terrain of the closest sandbox. But why can’t a boy learn to create the perfect Easy Bake omelet while a girl is somewhere getting her troops into formation?

kid-chefIf you think the only thing holding your child’s idea of his/her masculine or feminine identity are the colors, pink, blue, green, and yellow and the words “FOR BOYS” or “FOR GIRLS,” I must inform you there is a serious deficiency in your general understanding of how life works and you are also slacking in your obligation to teach and guide your children and to show them they are not limited by their genders regarding what they can accomplish and learn. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some exploding toys and action figures to go buy for my nieces. ©

 

WOMANING DONE RIGHT

Do you ever have those moments when you realize you just aren’t cut out for basic and widely adhered to traditions and that it might mean you’re a bit on the sorry side? I hope it isn’t just me. While messaging a friend on Facebook today, I had to acknowledge I still owe her a wedding and baby shower gift. By the time I get around to these things, she and her husband will be well into the “leather” year, which sounds oddly kinky and like a winner to me, when I should have been there with my present on their wedding day. The baby will have all his teeth, a full ride scholarship, and his first car before I get her a gift for the shower that took place whilst he was still in the womb. At times, I think I just might not be good at old school “womaning.” Posh-52-dot-com

Now don’t get me wrong, I do think I’m a good woman overall, whatever that means, but when it comes to the traditional behaviors of women, I seem to be failing on all fronts. My wedding gifts are almost always late, I hate every kind of shower that doesn’t involve hot water, massaging jets, a loofah, and maybe a handsome and muscular co-bather, and I’m always trying to find ways to make baby/kid birthday parties bearable with things I need – like a flask or a couple Vicodin. I know it’s 2015 and these aren’t necessarily as weighty as they once were in determining a woman’s “ladylikeness”, but still some seemingly antiquated part of me feels the ghost of one of my prim and proper ancestors is looking down on me, shaking her head, pursing her lips, and wondering if my womaning shortcomings are a result of the Suffrage Movement.

I have been functionally and happily single for a very long time. I live alone with just my solace to keep me warm and home life sans someone to whom I’m accountable has been a dream. But what am I supposed to do if I get serious with some man? Like, what happens if he’s over, says he’s hungry, asks me if I’m cooking, tells me he’s willing to eat whatever I am going to have and I inform him the night’s culinary delight is baked chicken and Rice Chex? Does that mean something bad? I mean, I’m the type of woman to get a dress out of screen-shot-2013-10-28-at-12-40-41-pmthe hamper and rinse out the armpits in the interest of restoring freshness followed by blow drying it back to crispness. Surely, some publication should be knocking my door down to interview me about how a woman can really have it all – providing “all” means several new pairs of panties because I hate doing laundry, several boxes of cereal for culinary emergencies, and a drawer full of old dresses used as nightgowns. Yes, I am a winner.

I suppose if I really based my idea of who I am as a woman and how I measure up on those very traditional ideals, I would be a sad sap all the time. Fortunately, my talents, wit, sense of humor, writing abilities, and hall closet full of clean bath towels tells me I still have every right to hold my head up – even if I didn’t buy any of those towels as a wedding gift.

I’M TIRED, BOSS

I’ve spent the last week or so trying to process my anger and channel it into some sort of creative avenue to keep from cussing random folks out or slapping strangers, but so far, it hasn’t really subsided. Black Rage is real and at certain times recently, mine has given out to Black Exhaustion. I don’t really know if that’s a thing, but if it wasn’t before a sentence ago, it is now. I see Black Exhaustion as that level that kicks in after one is reminded for the umpteenth time about the world she lives in, sees an atrocity acted out against folks who look like her, rails about said atrocity via all the ways she can think of, then sits quietly seething but too tired to say much else. That last part? That’s the exhaustion. That’s when I’ve fussed, cussed, pondered, pontificated, and ended up pooped because it’s all just too damn much to process or work toward fixing in the moment.

Black-woman-sleep-at-workThese days, my anger is multi-layered. I’m angry at institutionalized racism and all its offshoots like police brutality against black and brown folks that too often ends with us on cold slabs in coroner drawers. I’m pissed off at a white racist with beliefs in extremist ideals who walked into a church and killed a group of folks who just wanted to spend an evening praying in what I imagine was the safest place they thought they could be outside their own homes. I’m annoyed about a white woman spending several years pretending to be a black woman like me, complete with my same struggles, my same obstacles, my same knowledge base, my same reality – sans the inconvenient disadvantages being a black woman REALLY has. I’m incensed by folks trying to tell me I should live some sort of color blind/post-racial reality where my people, my culture, my beliefs, our struggle, our pain, our history is erased all in the interest of making everyone more comfortable by not having to have the “race conversation.” I’m disgusted with black folks who cry “construct” regarding race but don’t do the same regarding “black on black crime” when they go into their rants about how black folks shouldn’t be mad about the Charleston church murders because black people kill black people every single day and nobody cares. I probably hate those people the most. All this anger leads to me wanting to just run away and rest, but how does one rest from a reality that will be there just as foreboding as it was before I buried my head in the sand?

black-woman-stressedI often scroll through news sites, the preview guide on my television, and my social media newsfeeds reading headlines and quietly saying, “Nope,” as I scroll on by high level f*ckery with which I am not prepared to deal. It isn’t an aversion to the truth for me. It’s just that exhaustion creeping in. That exhaustion I get from all the gibberish, the backlash, the innate duty I think I have to clue in the clueless, the mandate to fight against the ultimate disrespect to my people, the drive to trail blaze as a black person, a woman, and one who believes in decency among humanity. And in all this I wonder – is there a no doze for Black Exhaustion? Is there some sort of vitamin, energy drink, or exercise regimen for those of us who fuss and fight all in the name of the advancement and equal treatment of our folks? If there is, can I PLEASE get a prescription?pills

Much like I do when it is time to get up and go to work, I’ll keep driving. I will keep running my mouth, challenging untruths, tackling tomfoolery, and raging against all manner of balderdash, hoodwinkery, and poppycock passed off as righteousness. I just have to make sure I catch a few cat naps in between to stay fresh for that fight. ©

 

 

WHO DOES A SISTA HAVE TO SCREW AROUND HERE TO MATTER?

The-Black-Mans-StruggleI love black men, God knows I do (I absolutely said that in my Oprah as Sophia in The Color Purple voice) – but part of my frustration has to do with the fact I had to start off acknowledging my love for them as a disclaimer for what I really want to say. Since I have been old enough to understand the very basic parts of racism against black folks in this country, I have been indoctrinated with the “black man’s struggle.” I think most black folks; girls and women in particular, have heard it since childhood:

  1. The life playing field isn’t level for a black man.
  2. It’s harder for a black man to get a job.
  3. It’s harder for a black man to get a promotion when he does have a job.
  4. It’s harder for a black man to get respect everywhere.
  5. It’s harder for a black man to be acknowledged in the academic world.
  6. You know, you really have to be supportive of black men and boys because after all, it’s harder for them.
    blackwomenmatter

I’m sure plenty of folks reading this know this unfortunately true rhetoric. Most of my life, I assumed  “white men” were the implied group of privileged folks who had it easier than black men and what I thought totally made sense because the concept of white privilege is real. But these days, I’m not so sure the “white man” is the only one implied to have the lion’s share of privileges. In all this talk of how hard it is to be a black man (or boy), the black majority has forgotten an equally important conversation – the fact black girls and women have it just as hard, if not harder. The playing field isn’t really level for black women either. It’s challenging to be taken seriously in the professional world, despite one’s educational background and body of work that should speak for itself. Promotions are definitely not growing on trees specifically planted and grown for black women. It’s difficult for black girls and women to find respect in the white world, let alone in the black one. Black women graduate from college more often than black men, but we’re often discouraged by professors, administrators, lovers, and family members during our educational pursuits. And we have to rail against sexism outside of, but more importantly, within our race, and shit – it’s just hard being a black woman in this society. And folks thought it was hard out here for a pimp. He should try being a ho and see how that works.

Black girls and women are beaten, raped, and murdered by law enforcement officers just like our beloved black boys and men. We are denied opportunities we earn, just like our beloved black boys and men. We struggle with finding our footing in a society that MUGSHOT2constantly reminds us it doesn’t love us, just like our beloved black men. And from childhood we fight against being told we aren’t worthy, smart, beautiful, relevant, creative, innovative, or worthwhile, just like our beloved black men. But we forge our way anyway. We plot, plan, protest, politic, and prance up and down streets on behalf of our boys and men reminding this world the lives of our counterparts matter.

But who exactly marches for and with us? Who lets folks know when we say, “Black Lives Matter,” Black includes girls and women? Who campaigns for us with photo shoots shown in caps and gowns, posing mug shot style, with a sign in our hands stating our major in which we earned a degree? Who tells our story about how hard it is to be us and about how we really just need support during our struggle? Who surrounds us with love? Who RIDES for us? Who lets the world know we aren’t petty or unaware of the way our gender counterparts suffer just because we point out the fact we suffer too? Unfortunately, the answer to that is usually – US.

thumbI love black men, God knows I do, but I don’t love them or respect their struggle any more than I love and respect that of black girls and women. To succeed, to progress, to exact change in any way, we must support each other. The struggles of black girls and women must be acknowledged and seen as inextricable to the black struggle. I can be about that ride or die life, but I don’t always want to be in the car alone. ©

 

Plate Politics

Screenshot_2015-05-19-20-37-13-1I was scrolling though Instagram last night and the scenario to the left was posed. As I expected, there were varying responses, primarily from women, regarding how to handle a situation of a woman offering, then actually fixing, another woman’s boyfriend/husband a plate at a social function. The answers mostly stayed along the lines of 1) An ass whoopin’ for disrespectfully and shameslessly flirting with another woman’s man 2) Shame to the girlfriend/wife for not making her man a plate in the first place because clearly, this is what women are made to do 3) Asking the woman if she would be so kind as to prepare both a plate since she is feeling so damn helpful and 4) Expecting the man to simply say, “No, thank you” to the offer of another woman overstepping her boundaries with him in front of his woman. Truthfully, these were answers I expected and though they ran the gamut, none of them were quite the answer I had.

Why Is This Even A Question?

One issue for me with this scenario is the idea it might be a problem or fodder for such detailed discussion. In my mind, no man I’m with would accept that offer, but most importantly, no man I’d be with would announce his hunger then automatically look at me to take action to remedy his pronouncement. What about my existence as a woman makes folks think I’m predisposed to diaper changing, cake baking, and plate making? What is it MakingPlatesabout testosterone that enables some men to feel sitting in a chair waiting for food to magically arrive in front of them is all they have to do when they are hungry? And who the hell set the precedent for any of this? Who are the folks perpetuating these ideas simply based in gender? Now, don’t get me wrong – I’ve made a few plates in my day and I know plenty of folks who subscribe to traditional ideas of gender roles of their choosing. I think that’s just fine, providing it’s what both parties want and believe, but that isn’t how I believe and it isn’t what I want. Every kindness I extend to folks I like and love comes from a pure desire to do something nice. It’s an extension of my love, not an obligatory action based on my possession of ovaries. Sometimes, I might make a plate and other times, I might not. Sometimes, I might ask him to make me a plate, and that shouldn’t be a problem because putting food on plates is not, and won’t ever be, a gender specific action. I’ve met a lot of different people in my day and outside of literally missing limbs, I haven’t met any adult incapable of holding a serving utensil and using it to dish up food for a plate.

If You Don’t, Cousin Faith Will

In all the fussing and laughing, I was the only woman who wondered why his significant other making him a plate would be the automatic option. In the good old movie, Soul cousin-faithFood, the main characters’ cousin, Faith, seemed to step in and fill some sort of void one of the husbands felt his wife wasn’t filling. As a result, they had an affair. Several women spoke the perspective of it being the girlfriend’s/wife’s fault another woman made her mate a plate because she didn’t fix it herself, therefore creating the opportunity for “Cousin Faith” to step in and do it instead.

*Imagine me letting out a big ole’ sigh right here.*

Listen, I can’t speak for any other woman’s relationship or how she handles it, but I have absolutely no belief in existing within a relationship under constant fear of “losing” my significant other. My assumption is a man is with me because he thinks I’m awesome (I am pretty damn cool for real) and if my entire existence with him is spent worrying about him leaving me if I fail to cook dinner, don’t feel like making him a plate after I failed to cook dinner, gain a pound, get a pimple, or express my beliefs one too many times, then I need that man to go on ahead and leave me immediately. My actions within my relationship are always true to who I am and again, my shows of affection are at-will, not based on some crazy antiquated ideas about what I “better” do lest I be left. Besides, if Cousin Faith comes through and he leaves with her and her plate makin’ ass, it is not because of me but because of that man’s choice. We ALL makechoices.

I suppose I can file my feelings on this in the Why I’m Single folder, along with my disinterest in cooking everyday or most days, my mostly covert but sometimes overt ratchetness, my disinterest in backing down when I’m talking about something I really believe, and the idea I should actually enjoy the sex I’m having, and I’m ok with that. I make plates when the spirit of love moves me and if Cousin Faith wants to try to plate up some food for my man in front of me and he allows it, I’m just going to ask her bring me back an extra fork – to stab the man who doesn’t know when to tell a broad to exit stage left. Bon appetit. ©

 

SAY YES TO THE SUMMER DRESS

I spent the greater part of my morning fiddling with my skirt and trying to think of new ways to make my stomach disappear without control top panties, a corset, or some quick pre-workday surgery. Unfortunately, none of those options were really viable or appealing, so I had to come to a realization or two – I look good as I am, even as I’m working on my body, and I need  to stop comparing myself to someone else’s body reality and remember to love and live in my own. 2f07044280693a5140b08330507333d1

The whole concept of body image and feeling good about being in one’s skin is an ongoing effort for me. I hate to call it a struggle because something about viewing my body that way seems counterproductive, but figuring out how to love it as is while working to improve it is most certainly a stru…er…challenge.  On one hand, I think about what my body looked like light years ago, pun intended, and I feel like I somehow ruined everything, but on the other hand, I think about how much my body has experienced, how well I treat it, how healthy it is, even if it doesn’t look the way I want, and how it gives me a great return on my investment in it. My blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol have never been problems for me. I eat clean more often than not, and I exercise. I should pat myself on the back for that – even if the back I pat has an extra roll on it I don’t like.

As is the norm around the warm months of the year, memes about women, warm weather, and summer dresses permeate my Facebook feed. Today, I saw this one and was immediately annoyed. 11196248_823727781052664_5193530587267528661_n (1)As a woman, I deal with enough. What I don’t need are folks scoping me out to see if I have a spare tire so they can spend time judging it. Whose stomach is this anyway? I spend my days concerned about my professional progress, whether I write enough, whether I can do what I love and support myself, and  if I’m a good enough daughter, friend, sister, writer, and thinker. I obsess enough over my body and have no desire to deal with others who are more concerned about my stomach than I am.

So ladies, if this warm weather has you itching to put on a summer dress – do that shit. Don’t make apologies for your body to any other person because you don’t owe anyone any apologies for it. Just make sure you get the cutest one you can find and that your stomach feels right at home in it. ©

 

TALK THAT TALK

I weigh too much.  My body fat percentage is higher than it should be, I need to make some

Picture1serious improvements to my ab workout, and my devotion to procrastination sometimes interferes with my ability to tackle the first three issues. All these things about me are true, but they are far from a full definition of who I am, what I work to accomplish, or what I believe I represent as a person. Recently, I was talking to a friend who reminded me about the importance of avoiding negative self-talk in my fitness journey. Not long after, I considered how that relates to the way Black folks often discuss themselves and their “plight”.

As I peruse my various social networking sites, I come across the usual rhetoric – “If Black folks would spend half as much time investing our money as we do buying Jordans, we’d be better off,” or “I see this video of this baby dancing on Facebook, but I bet he doesn’t even know his alphabet yet. Black folks always focused on the wrong thing, that’s why our children are failing” or “That’s the problem with Black relationships, the women aren’t supportive and the men don’t know how to treat a queen.” The list goes on to a seemingly 11024692_10153042575565310_3668182119721558509_nendless location in space and time, and at a certain point, it appears all Black folks are is a bunch of people riddled with problems they can’t ever seem to solve because all they do is waste money on frivolities, make more babies who dance but can’t read, and embark on a series of unhealthy romantic relationships.

Of course, some of these behaviors apply to some Black folks. Just like I weigh too much and tend to procrastinate, some Black folks spend too much money on Jordans without investing in their educational or professional goals, but just as there is far more to me than what I weigh, Black folks far exceed the generalizations we spew about ourselves and I think a lot of what keeps many of us in a life holding pattern is the way we speak about ourselves and the way we absorb and believe the things others say about us. Black folks are brilliant, resilient, resourceful, creative, artistic, and advanced in all areas of professional life. We are inventors, investors, and innovators. We set trends folks chomp at the bit to follow and everything about us, down to the features with which we were born, is emulated. Sure, some of us definitely need to work on our parenting skills and ideas for our long term financial futures, but those shortcomings do not make us any less amazing and are but a small part of the truth of who we are. no-negative-self-talkI think if we started focusing on where we excel more than where we fail, we’d be in a better, more progressive place in general. If all I see in my mirror is a woman who weighs too much and procrastinates, I lose. When I look and see a woman who is smart, witty, hardworking, healthy, active, funny, and progressive, the shortcomings are much easier to master because I’ve acknowledged I have every last tool I need to overcome them. Maybe black folks should try this same thing. If we start talking ourselves up instead of down, we win. We discover ways to overcome the negativity that plagues us and we are more likely to find our brilliance – right under all that negative self-talk. ©

The Big Cover Up

nunThe talks started in third grade when I got boobs and went from the little undershirts with the flower on the chest to full-fledged bras and became more frequent with the appearance of more curves on my body. Most girls and women know about the talks. They’re the ones during which my mom told me I needed “something to go under, over, or with” my outfit because whatever I was wearing showed too much skin. I am sure I’m not the only one who knows about this. While getting dressed for school, church, an outing with friends, etc…, your mom notices what your body is becoming or has become and she starts the process of prepping you to hide all those assets for the hormonal benefit and relief of young boys and men everywhere. It isn’t totally our mom’s fault though. They simply perpetuate a school of thought passed down through generations.

It’s in office dress codes, campus handbooks, and even various church doctrines – women are fully expected to be modest in appearance and in some cases, they are to cover everything but their eyes because no self-respecting woman who loves herself, her man, or her god would a) want anyone other than her husband to see any part of her body and b) not want to distract boys and men from their daily lives with the tempting sights of her flesh. Whether it’s religious, cultural, or just a matter of manipulation and control, girls and women learn far too early they cannot be left to their own devices when it comes to clothing styles and body shapes because someone has to be around to look out for the boys and men. For most, it’s probably dismissed as general decency or religious observance, but I think there is far more to it than that.

It is partly a power play. Any time someone implores another to stifle herself in any way for the benefit of others, it’s usually an attempt to diminish her power and lessen the appearance of other’s vulnerability. How many times have you been told your skirt is too short, you need to wear longer sleeves, your neckline needs to be raised, or a cami needs to go under your shirt? Rarely is it simply a matter of dressing appropriately for a particular occasion. These admonishments usually happen because the one delivering the message thinks a girl or woman is a distraction to the boys and men around her.  I’ve heard it all my life and as a forty year old woman, I still get it from time to time. My main problem with this is the belief I’m guilty of something because of the way my body looks and the fact some men like it and that I should remedy what I haven’t done wrong by covering it up. So from early on in life, girls are being told their bodies are something that should generate shame.

I believe another issue is boy’s and men’s lack of interest to acknowledge and accept female sexuality. Their attraction to us is presented as tantamount in this society and our ability to smother it in the interest of making life easier for them is recommended and suggested to women as the only valid option.  To draw attention away from the weakness society fosters in boys and men by telling them the way they gawk, drool, cat call, and are driven to distraction for focus on girl’s and women’s bodies is natural, we are asked to hide ourselves instead of them being taught to learn to see without staring or to appreciate without aggravating. Apparently, it’s simpler to convince us we are doing something. ©

GETTING THERE

I am not a morning person and sometimes, I think I might not be an afternoon or evening one either. It takes all my “can” just to get out of bed in the wee hours to start my work day. For months, I’ve been telling myself and others I need to get in a morning workout in addition to my evening one, but it rarely happens. At six or seven o’clock in the evening, I’m sometimes ready to work out, but at six or seven o’clock in the morning, I’m not ready to anything that involves being outside my bed. For me and countless others, the struggle is often in just getting there. Every work day morning, I stumble out of bed, wait for my eyes to wake up, which usually happens about fifteen minutes AFTER I open them, shower, moisturize, dress, do something with my hair, maybe put on some makeup, then make the mad dash to the car to get to the train station. This morning, I got on the elevator and a coworker commented, “You look like you don’t want to be here today.” I had to tell her, it isn’t the “being here” that’s the problem; it’s the “getting here.” I had to acknowledge the way the latter is the crux of my ongoing battle with procrastination.

X11711Getting_There_Self_Inking_Reward_StampOleta Adams made is sound so simple when she sang, “Get Here” and was even kind enough to list all the various modes of transportation one could take to make the arrival a reality. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t seem to respond to her kind of cues. Most of the time, I’m excited about, or at least mildly interested in, my social plans. I look forward to linking up with folks I enjoy while listening to some good music, dining out, or having a few drinks, but for some reason, I have all the trouble in the world getting there. I want to go, I’m excited about going, and I know I am going for sure, but there is always some sort of inner glitch that makes the getting there feel like I’m walking through three feet of mud whilst carrying a hundred pound backpack full of bricks.

I can’t help but think most, if not all, of this issue is mental.  If I start prepping  two hours before I need to leave the house and during that time I am distracted by dishwashing, clothes folding, and tub scrubbing, it occurs to me I am purposely sabotaging myself,  leaving me late to arrive at my destination.  I never have the same fervor for cleaning as I do when I’m supposed to be doing something else.  Somehow, I doubt I’m alone in this.

Ultimately, I find with anything, the biggest challenge is getting to it. Whether it’s getting in a workout, going to the grocery store, or getting to dinner on time, being there is pretty straightforward, but the getting there is where the hard work is. I don’t want to spend the rest of my adult social life “on my way” or “running a little late,” so right now, I’m working on getting there more often. I don’t want to miss anything.©

 

AREA CODES

Tupac saw the same ones everywhere he went, Ludacris had them in every area code, and Snoop never loved them. Yes, people.  I’m talking about hoes – the word often used to describe women and girls from every walk of life. According to urban conversational and social norms, a woman can be a rotten, stank, dirty, useless, or crappy one. But take heart, because a woman can apparently also be a good, down ass, and loyal ho as well.  I mean, balance is important, right?

When I was a whole lot less informed and self-reflective, I subscribed to the existence of hoes. I didn’t see the word as a compliment and was of course careful to only apply it to the women who fit the description – women who gave up “the goods” to too many men, women who screwed too soon, women who were too liberal with blow jobs, women whose dresses and skirts were too tight and/or too short, women who wore too much makeup, women who couldn’t stay away from the club spotlight, etc… See, it was ok for me to think of those women as hoes because they weren’t anything like me – the well-behaved woman. I was close-legged, quiet in public, well-read, and had on clothes that showed just the right amount of skin. In retrospect, I am a little ashamed I bought into the man-dated tomfoolery of what a “real” woman versus a ho should do and be, but I’m glad I learned before it was too late.

The entire intention behind the word, “ho” and all its synonyms is to separate girls and women from one another, stifle their sexuality, and destroy their confidence in who they are and the power they hold. The older I get and the more in tune I become with myself as a multi-faceted woman, the easier it is for me to see the flaw in my young thinking and the 58999724disservice society, mostly at the hands of male and religious dominated thought processes, has done to folks as a result. I know now there are no hoes. Hoes and ho-dom are nothing more than constructs created to keep women in check and within the bounds set for them by men and reinforced by society as a whole. I know what some folks might be thinking while reading this – “What do you mean there are no hoes? Of course there are. I mean, what else are we supposed to call ‘those’ women?” My answer for that is they should simply be called women. Since I can remember, I was programmed to separate myself from other girls and women. I couldn’t hang with so and so because she was “fast,” I couldn’t go to certain places because that was where the “loose” girls hung, and I wasn’t allowed to wear certain clothes lest anyone mistake me for a tramp. The divide started early and I was convinced it must have been warranted. I didn’t want to be seen in a negative light and heaven forbid anyone should see me as any kind of ho. With introspection, information, and maturity, things changed.

One of the main problems with calling women hoes is the way it suggests a woman should downplay her sexuality and even apologize for it. A woman isn’t allowed to have sex when she wants with the partners she chooses without feeling guilty because it apparently gives her entirely too much control over her body and seemingly – a certain amount of control over her partners.  If that autonomy is stripped from her, she is left to define herself by someone else’s standards and must spend her time trying to reach for an unrealistic and unfair ideal to maintain her decent reputation. If a woman is completely true to herself and does as she sees fit, her full power is in her possession and no one else can convince her she is wrong.

When having this conversation with a friend, he asked how I categorize women who don’t have sex out of a sense of personal sexual liberation, but instead do it to somehow help/heal themselves because of low self-esteem. I told him those women aren’t hoes to me – they’re just hurt. Though most folks are likely having sex out of a sense of enjoyment, many are having sex trying to replace something they lost or compensate for what they may have never had. Those folks are simply damaged. They’ve been banged up by life and think their sexuality is the playing field where they can recoup. To me, women like this are victims who are hurting and misunderstood, not hoes. These are the women and girls who need someone to reach out instead of ridicule.

I realize it’s difficult for some women to look down from their good woman level and go against everything they’ve been taught about what it is to be respectable, but it’s necessary if they are to ever understand the position of women who seem to have broken all the “good girl” rules.  If more women subscribed to the belief that we aren’t all nearly as separated as we are think, the divide would start to close. This undertaking is probably even more difficult for men. They would have to throw out almost everything they’ve been indoctrinated with to make room for the idea that a woman who goes against the good girl grain is still a woman worthy of respect.

Ultimately, I think it simply comes down to girls and women defining themselves and being unapologetic about it. We are not hoes, tricks, and tramps. We are individuals who tank and triumph and who wear sexy dresses and business suits. Women sleep with whom they like, live a committed life of abstinence and everything in between and not a bit of it makes us hoes. Instead, we are human and for that, we should not have to ever feel ashamed.©