Yesterday afternoon, at church, I was having a discussion with friends that went something like this:
Me: I’ve determined my husband may not be in the adventist church.* My list is too long, and I can’t compromise.
Friend: What’s on your list?
Me: Things like he can’t be sexist or misogynistic, or must at least be trying to combat his sexism/misogyny
Friend: But what do you mean by sexism/misogyny?
Me: If he can look at a woman and say that she’s a “hoe” because of the way she’s dressed, we can’t be together.
Friend: But why else would she be dressed like that?
This morning I woke up to a viral video of a father beating his daughters because they had made a twerking video, and another friend of mine said the father was beating the “hoe” out of his daughters. “Hoe”, what does it even mean? How many men does a woman have to sleep with to be labeled a “hoe”? The definition is subjective which makes it very, very problematic along with words like it [slut/tart/junge, etc.]; but this post isn’t about the definition of the word.
It’s interesting that a woman can do anything but be seen to have sex with a man and she still be labeled a hoe. When I was younger I used to wear revealing clothes but I had for a very long time maintained that I wouldn’t have sex until I was married. I didn’t chose my clothes with the intention to have sex with men, and I’m not sure many women do. To suggest that a woman must want to have sex with someone because her skin is uncovered is part of the foundation of rape culture; the idea that because a woman is dressed a certain type of way she’s asking to be raped. What’s saddening is that men are not the only ones having thoughts like these, women have them too, and so there’s no real unity. The thought that if I was ever sexually assaulted I couldn’t turn to any one of my close girl friends because they’d judge my outfit for that day before they offered me love, is scary.
My problem with this goes a bit further though. If my husband can look at a woman dressed in skimpy clothes & say she’s a hoe, then when I wear those outfits (or similar) for him, won’t he think that I too am a hoe? The saying goes “be a lady in the streets, and a hoe in the sheets” and for the life of me, I really don’t know what this means. I want to have sex with my husband in a loving and respectful environment, not to say we may not be freaky, but to say that when we are in that environment he still sees me as a woman. My identity shouldn’t change when I put these clothes on, neither should the amount of respect he has for me.
The reaction to the twerking video beating on twitter was an interesting one. I wanted to know why these men would respond the way the said they would if they caught their daughters twerking. Is it because they are so young or because they’re your daughters? Is it a problem that men will be lusting after them the way you lust after other men’s daughters? Often I find that men only respect the women [mums, sisters, close cousins, and daughters] directly related to them. They put these women on a pedestal not realising that the simple fact that they so easily objectify other women cancels out any respect they hold for the women close to them and also makes them hypocrites, obviously.
And it’s not entirely their fault, we live in a society where men are taught to objectify women and women are taught to objectify themselves, and it’s so deeply ingrained that it’s “normal” and going against the grain is hard and is active. You have to actively condition yourself not to think the way you’ve been taught to think for so long and that takes work.
So props to all those people who have acknowledged their inherent sexism and misogyny and are consciously trying to do better, even if you stumble or get it wrong sometimes, you just need to acknowledge your fault & learn from that. Growth is a process.
1* – By “my husband is not in the adventist church” I mean “it unlikely I’m going to find a husband”. I wouldn’t marry a non-adventist unless I was 100% sure God was leading me there.