Friday, June 3, 2011

Bros and Hoes

Whew! It's been a while. I just finished the busiest semester of school I've ever experienced and my baby isn't due for another 10 days so...hey let's blog!

I'm in the IU School of Social Work Master's program and this semester I did my first practicum at IYG, which is fantastic organization that serves LGBTQ youth and their straight allies. It was, by far, the most I've learned in any given professional or educational setting yet. I enjoyed it so much that I am continuing to volunteer, regardless of the fact that I'm not done with grad school, have a full-time job, and a baby on the way. It's that good.

One of the main reasons my experience was so incredible was due to the fact that the youth constantly challenge me, my ideas, my biases, and my beliefs. I love it. This blog is an example of one of these instances.

A group of teenage lesbians that hang out at IYG on a regular basis have this way of labelling each other...bros and hoes. The more "butch" type of lesbians are bros, and the more "femme" type of lesbians are hoes. I first heard this and thought it was a joke, so laughed it off. Then I began to realize that they were literally categorizing themselves according to gender expression, using this phrase that douchebag straight guys use for their friends and girls they sleep with. You know...those guys that wear cargo shorts and air max's out to the club. I was offended, as a feminist and as a lesbian. I corrected one of the girls and told her that was inappropriate and not to say that anymore.

I mean...right? As a feminist lesbian, regardless of where I am on the butch-femme spectrum, I wouldn't want to be called a bro or a hoe. I'm not a man, never wish to be, so don't call me your bro. And I'll be damned if anyone calls me a hoe. I don't care if you mean it in jest or not. Not funny. The girl I corrected in this situation got pretty upset with me. She said, "Never mind you just don't get it" and walked away. So...I've been thinking.

I can't stand when I hear or read about a second-waver who feels as if our third-wave feminism isn't as valid or revolutionary because it doesn't look or sound like their revolution. It gets under my skin something fierce. I've vowed to never be so stuck in my own ideas and visions for the future that I'd be resistant to a younger generation's picture of change. Have I done that already? At the ripe old age of 25?

These girls are in the prime of their adolescence. They've all come out in their schools, to their friends, and to their families. They are secure in who they are and what they want. They easily identify as gay women, and they are not afraid to express their sexuality or their gender in the way they feel free to (which I definitely could not have said about myself as a teenager). Some of these girls express their female masculinity proudly. They have this connection to each other that they don't have with the other girls who don't share this sense of masculinity. They are, in fact, bros. Some of the other girls have a femininity that is uniquely their own. They strut into the center with their lip gloss and pumps on like they were walking down a runway. They are proud to be feminine gay women. They have reclaimed a term that was, and still is, used against women to be degrading. They don't see it that way. They're not promiscuous or dressed scantily clad. But they're the hoes, and they'll tell you so.

Even as I just wrote that last sentence, I did so uncomfortably. This is not my language. I will not be calling my friends bros...or hoes. But should I be correcting this language to make it mimic something more similar to my own? I'm not so sure anymore. This blog is meant to be a question, not an answer. But challenges like these are refreshing, to say the least. Those kids give me hope for our future.


  1. First of all--I'm so glad you contributed again! Wooooo!

    Secondly--Once Liliana's here and you get into the flow of the whole of the "Oh hey, I'm a mom now" thing I *really* want you to blog about your experiences parenting.

    Thirdly--this is so interesting. I totally get your thought process with it. Part of me finds this labeling as wrong as you did initially. Part of me gets that we have to listen to younger women. Part of me wonders if they really "get it" yet, but isn't that was second wavers assume about me?

    And a final part of me really, really likes the reclaiming of words used to demean women who are sexual. I think it's cool when women are like, "Yeah, I'm a slut. I like sex. Sue me." I'm very, very much against slut shaming, and hell, I'm going to slutwalk next weekend. BUT "slut" feels different for me than ho. Ho has a history of being used to actually replace the word "women." It seems to be much more a tool used by men to dehumanize.

    So it's hard for me to conceive ho being an acceptable term, but I'm open to different interpretations, I suppose.

    While they are obviously very intentional about some things (ie coming out) are they attuned to gender issues? I guess what I'm getting at is the well know fact that being a lesbian doesn't automatically make you a feminist. Do you get the sense that they have thought critically about this, or do they use the terms carelessly?

  2. If a tomboy prefers to be called bro, would you have a problem with it?


This blog has strict comment moderation intended to preserve a safe space. Moderation is managed solely by the blog author. As such, even comments made in good faith will be on a short delay, so please do not attempt to resubmit your comment if it does not immediately appear. Discussion and thoughtful participation are encouraged, but abusive comments of any type will never be published. The blog author reserves the right to publish/delete any comments for any reason, at her sole discretion.

TL;DR Troll comments are never published, so don't waste your time.