Yesterday I was on the phone with my ex. He is happily in a new relationship that he was telling me all about. It was nice to here the excitement and the fervor in his voice as he talked about his partner. After he was finished he asked me about my love life and what it looks like these days. So I went on to tell him about some of the gentlemen I’ve been dating, or “talking to” as the young folks say. As I’m telling my tales he interrupts me and says, “Oh, you living yo’ hoe life.” Not in a condescending or aggressive manner, but still in a way that implied that I’m out here hoe’ing until I find my next relationship.
This is also some of the rhetoric I’ve seen online in the past few weeks. Like this tweet, for example,:
We could spend hours deconstructing why the socially constructed descriptor “hoe” is problematic (or subjectively problematic), but that’s another post for another time.
We could also talk about how minding your business is always an option, but again, another time.
What I do want to talk about is this idea of the “hoe phase,” the negative connotation with paired with it. Why my hoe gotta be a phase??
My take is that this “hoe phase” ideology is a byproduct of heteronormativity.
I could be wrong (and feel free to disagree with me in the comments), but when folks talk about a “hoe phase” what it implies is that one is out sleeping around until they find the “right one” and settle down in a (monogamous) relationship. But that’s what we’re socialized to believe, right? The whole “you gotta kiss a few frogs to find your prince” thing, right? But everyone does not subscribes to this archaic, binate mode of thinking, and being, and living.
I am a soon-to-be 26 year old man (sobs uncontrollably), and no one pays my bills but me. In other words, I’m grown. Whomever and how many people I decide to date, court, sleep with, or “talk to” at one time is my Black business. It’s not a “hoe life” or a “hoe phase” it’s just a life. A life that exists outside of the heteronormative structure that we’re socialized to believe is the only right, respectable way to live.
Tracee Ellis Ross, the queen/idol/legend/icon, gave a very poignant speech for Glamour Magazine in November of last year discussing her life and how it exist outside of heteronormative patriarchy, being that she has no husband and no children at age of 45 and she likes it that way. Towards the end of the speech she said four very simple words that have stuck with me. She said, “My life is mine.” So eloquent in its simplicity because of ideologies and structures like heteronormativity, a lot of people, mainly women, queer folks, disabled folks, and etc. live a narrow life we’re socialized to live – instead of lives we genuinely and intuitively want to live/need to live to happy and fulfilled.
As I’m growing into my personhood and my Queerness, I am really grabbing hold of “my life is mine” and principally applying it. No, that does not mean I’m out here sliding in whatever and whomever. But even if I am, again, my business and also totally fine being that I protect myself, get tested, and, again, pay my own damn bills.
What is does mean is that I am intentionally structuring an adult life that is broad and full and open and not constrained by binaries, norms, and public perception. And I think everyone should do that in whatever way that makes them happy.
No, I am not encouraging people to sleep around or date multiple people concurrently (unless that what you want to do). I am encouraging people to live the life that best suits them, and if that falls outside of the social norm that that’s perfectly okay and don’t let anybody that tell you it’s not.