Gif from Google search.
It has been a growing trend in social media but has now entered the realm of public discourse. The topic began very long ago, stretching back to the 1800s and 1960s. ‘Ho’ and ‘hoe’ have been used and spelled interchangeably within the past few years from pop songs to common conversation.
‘Ho’ refers to a prostitute, a term associated with the word ‘whore.’ The word ho can be traced back to the Germanic “hōraz,” which means one who desires and/or an adulterer. The feminine translation of this term would then be “hōrōn” which became hōre in Old English, the ancestor of Modern English ‘whore.’ From whore, we are brought to, ho.
Picture from Free The Nipple campaign.
Given several recent feminist campaigns – which includes agency over the policing of female bodies by women – the issue of the definition of a ‘ho’ has been resurrected. Campaigns like Free The Nipple, Body Positivity, and SlutWalk, lead the discussion surrounding the reclamation of agency in regards to female bodies. Women have begun to steer the conversation, with the aim being to bring light to the consistent disregard for basic human rights such as a freedom to define their body parts and sexual liberation.
The word ho is used to subordinate and disregard this push for women’s agency over all aspects of their lives, especially their bodies. Women who do not adhere to the heteronormative conservative lifestyle, of being seen not heard and of blindly following the mandates of a male dominated society, are termed as a ho or a bitch or God forbid, unfit to be a mother.
Picture from Kim Kardashian’s social media feed.
Famous for breaking the internet, or for purchasing predominantly black body features, businesswoman and socialite Kim Kardashian, shook the very foundation of society when she posted her nude selfie. Such a selfie that is not out of character for the ever body positive Kim Kardashian, and yet, reactions online revealed some were were shocked, astonished, and oddly insulted, by the nude photo. Men and women flocked to Twitter, detailing how the Kardashians are ruining the mindset of current and future generations of young women. As opposed to the previous occurrences of #TheFappening – where nude photos of celebrities were leaked against their will (photos that have been compiled and made into websites, again, against the consent of those celebs targeted). It appears nudity, is deemed acceptable, only when lacking the consent of the individual(s) involved.
The word ho is also racialized. Majority of the memes ‘poking fun’ at sexually liberated women, target black women first, and other women of colour second. On the ladder, black women, especially that of darker skin, are placed at the lowest level. Seen as dirty and below class, portrayed as ‘ghetto’ [a term made racialized as well], on television reality shows, portrayed as aggressive, portrayed as without morals, described as yielding abandonment issues, described as all bearing children for underachieved men, and etc., black women are not shown in a positive light, leading many to believe that ho, and the ho culture, is predominately progressed by black women in a vindictive and shallow manner. Black women live in a world without any agency to their name and in addition, what little agency we have is stripped from us and mislabelled by society.
Women like Amber Rose and Kim Kardashian, hashtags like #BodyPosi, #BodyPositivity, #FreeTheNipple, and events like SlutWalk, all aid women living in a world determined to strip them of every piece of agency they own. #FuckYo30Showers.