For a long time black pop culture has determined that women labeled ‘hoes’ should be seen and not heard or allowed to define their own experiences. But that is changing, as women like Amber Rose, Blac Chyna and Cardi B are push against the ‘hoe’ label and point out society’s extreme double standards for men and women.
Video model Karrine Steffans joined the chorus when she challenged a woman who, comparing her to Oprah, called Steffans “tasteless” and someone she did not want to be. Steffans took the opportunity to challenge the woman in a series of tweets;
“Oprah was promiscuous. Maya Angelou was a prostitute. A woman’s sexual organs, their functions or reputation will never define or stop her. You revere great women but give no credit to their sexual traumas and repercussions for making them stronger, better, wiser women. Believing a woman worthy of praise has never had a sexual or ill reputed past is silly. So many great women have had horrible reputations. Take a long, hard look at our strong, honorable black women and see how their sex plays a part in their stories.”
“Maya nor Oprah is better than any other woman; they’ve been just as hurt, just as broken, and just as ill-reputed at one time in their lives. If you’re uncomfortable thinking about young Oprah as a “hoe,” you should feel just as uncomfortable thinking of any other woman that way.”
Oprah has spoken before about being raped at age 9 by a 19-year-old cousin, and giving birth to a baby boy at 14 who died soon after childbirth. And in her memoir, Gather Together in My Name, Angelou writes about working as a prostitute and madam;
“The faces, bodies and smells of the tricks made an unending paisley pattern in my mind. Except for the Tamiroffish first customer, the others had no individual characteristics.”
This is why the division of black women into ‘respectable’ and ‘hoe’ is a false one. Our experiences — with love, with sex, with abuse — are multi-layered and we deserve the space to work through them without being subjected to derogatory labels.
Check out Steffans’ tweets below;