What’s the Difference Between a “Ho”, Housewife and Your Sister?


I woke up thinking about the way the women are put into categories and are ranked hierarchically.

For example, on any given Sunday in a barbershop, you can hear hetero African American men saying, “You can’t turn a “ho” into a housewife”.

Or on any given Friday night you can find hetero Black women saying “Girl, he wants a lady in the sheets, and a freak in the bed.”

I am sensitive to how women are put into the sexual binary (ho/housewife) than ranked as Loved/ain’t worth shit because I am currently in the thick of creating the arguments for a paper on Black women’s sexuality.

I am also teaching gender theory, so to watch how my students are either uncomfortable, or comfortable with being made aware of how they rank and treat others is enlightening.

In productive meeting with my boss last Wednesday  I said that I included a section on “Naming, Hearing and Seeing Black Women’s Sexuality” because “being read as deviant has fractured the space for Black women to discuss their sexuality.”

She then turned around and said she was going to contradict me. And while she did not contradict me, she forced me to see how powerful the word “fracture” was in that sentence.

By using fracture, I meant impacted and broken. She read it to say that a fracture does entail small breaks, but fractures create space, small spaces. And if a fracture doesn’t heal, like a bone, then it breaks completely; there is a big space.

I was like holy shit.

She then said that what I am saying is in many ways different from what twenty years of Black women scholars have been saying who have been talking about sexual silence, sexual taboo’s etc.

This was riveting.

She finally said that I was “reclaiming deviance.”

Context. In order for US chattel slavery to “work” Black women had to be described as subhuman and “natural” whores. We were lewd, lascivious and deviant.

I mean really, in order to enslave a woman, and her children, and rape her, and have her work in the fields picking cotton, slave owners had to figure out a way to make us “natural” whores.

While I know that in my day to day life, there is a reclamation of  “being deviant”. I had not idea that the shit was in my work as well. #Ha.

With regard to reclaiming deviance, I still didn’t know what she meant. So she used the example of how “Queer” has a history of being a derogatory term.

Light bulb.

I then said, wait the implications of this are huge because by saying this, it is almost like the “Slavery in the US benefited Black people argument”, you know the one about the “happy slave”. I also said that I am not comfortable defending that publicly.

She said that I didn’t have to be, but I should just think about my ideas of deviance and Black women’s sexuality and what that can possibly mean for my work.

It isn’t so much of being deviant, as it isn’t allowing white and black historical generated ideologies of what “proper Black femininity” (ho/housewife) looks like shape how I roll.

So, what’s the difference between a ho, housewife an your sister? Nuffin.

Images Ain’t Neutral

In The Sex Issue of The Words Beats and Life Journal (which you can buy here,  I am on the journal staff),  graphic artist and professor John Jennings says a few things about how images are used to normalize domination.

I read it in July, but its been on my mind ever since.

The first is that:

The Black body has historically been consumed by the masses in one way or another. The slave body was reduced to the slave masters whim…This practice hasn’t really changed. When you can control how people are viewed–and objectify  them, to a certain extent, you can control them.

The second is that:

The practice of dehumanizing the individual in order to sell products has a long history — one that naturally extends to hip hop culture. However, when you couple that practice with the history of slavery in America’s development, it re-contextualizes this process even more and depictions of our bodies become materialized.

This reminds me of something that Professor Michelle Wallace says in the article An Interview:

I mean in other words, the more images are thrown at you, the less you’re able to distinguish between them and filter them, make informed decisions about what you like and don’t like. I guess the more you’re bombarded with these images, he more passive you become. Images have histories and narratives of their own. The way not to be totally seduced by them is to keep that in mind.

People who analyze visual culture can help us make sense of the world, especially as our lives move online AND as video comes to dominate “the word.”

Some of ya’ll think I be putting 10 on 2 when I write about pop culture, Kanye, rappers, and the significance of images etc. But guess what?

You control how a people LOOK, you can dominate them. #yup.

Images ain’t neutral.


Am I wrong for “Nigger” soap? 0.O