When did so many young women — especially those from the middle and upper middle-classes — begin to find pleasure in being called “Bitches and Hoes” instead of slapping the person referring to them in that degrading manner?
Was it the growing popularity of the Hip-Hop movement that numbed young minds of both genders to the debased and insulting intent of “Bitches and Hoes?”

Was it the incomprehensible and insidious rise of non-melodic Gangsta Rap — with its graphic spoken lyric telling tales of treacherous living in the urban core — that somehow made “Bitches and Hoes” acceptable to most high school and many college age males and females?
The only purpose of “Bitches and Hoes” is to make females sub-human so they can be treated less well.

The fact that awful phrase persists in current modern culture is disgusting and its intra-gender propagation as a term of endearment makes the sane wonder how it is possible “Bitches and Hoes” can be perceived by some as both a compliment and a condemnation in the same thought.

57 Comments

  1. The last guy that called me a hoe hand three of his fingers broken as I placed him in a wrist lock while removing his wandering hand from my body. Am I violent? Probably. But referring to another person in this demeaning, degrading, and to be frank, dehumanizing manor doesn’t deserve compassion and understanding. But a damn good slap.

  2. Granted, me and my friends have JOKED about such things. But it’s never been considered a normal form of talking to someone unless we were trying to be nasty and derogative about the individual in question. I don’t think I’ve used the term hoe in the past five years, now that I think about it. I realise language is a growing molding thing, but this is a bit more than ridiculous. I mean, I would be horrified if my partner was to refer to me as that. I imagine scream, throwing of items, and then throwing of his butt out the door. If a female friend of mine was to talk to me like that I’d ask them what kind of drugs they were taking .. :-s .. maybe I’m just “old” and “out of touch”. Which seems even more sad considering I’m only 24, but on the other hand I don’t hang out with people my own age, hmmm.
    I’m telling my partner this and he’s now asking me if it’s okay for him to say “yo yo yo, my bitch, come over here my hoe” when we go out for dinner .. this does not bode well .. lol

  3. Hiya krome.obsession —
    I’m wondering if this new “term of endearment” is an American thing, then? I am so glad to hear you don’t use the terms unfairly against anyone and you fight when those terms are tossed at you.
    You might be out of the age zone, though, because this is a kind of new thing that younger females are starting to use “against” each other but without the knowledge of the phrase’s awful historic context to give real punch to the person being insulted but just because they don’t know the history doesn’t mean the phrase doesn’t have a really specific meaning.

  4. I read recently that the Grammy Awards folks are going to allow “bitches” to be used in a song on regular television.
    I love and admire women and find the term to be insulting. There’s a fine line between objectification and admiration. Calling a woman a derogatory name crosses the line, even if it is used as a term of endearment.
    Too bad young men in today’s society (and women for that matter) don’t have a better way to express themselves. It’s future evidence that our society is being miseducated. When people can’t name the rights contained in the First Amendment, call each other by derogatory names, and despair about the future, it’s a sign that something needs to change in the way we socialize people. We need to bring civility back to our public and private discourse.
    Maybe the test should be whether you’d call your mom by the same name. Unfortunately, there are many people who would.

  5. Hi Chris!
    I, too, read something about the degradation of the Academy Awards in order to allow a nominated song to be sung without censorship. Ugh! How far we’ve fallen!
    I agree “B&H” crosses the line in a terrible way that brings no goodness to the world of the speaker or the spoken-to.
    Yes, this is an issue of education and not one of morality or religiosity — this is basic human decency at its core and we are all being crushed by the savage, uncensored and uncivil tongue.
    I fear there are young women who have no problem calling their mothers “B&H” and, sadly, there are mothers who laugh at the phrase and find themselves complimented and not insulted.
    The “C-word” still appears to be off-limits – FOR NOW — but I say give it a few years and we’ll be hearing the “C-word” on the evening news as the new term of affection and respect.

  6. It’s the same with popular entertainment.
    Listen to any of the uncensored satellite radio stations (especially uncensored rap) and you’ll get an earful. Nothing is left to the imagination. It is no longer art. It becomes just slime and sleaze designed to shock and numb the listener.
    As we’ve discussed before, when people can lazily lean on obscenities, the first casualty is wit and intelligence. Using “B&H” is the same thing. While many don’t admit it, it dehumanizes women, relegating them to play objects to be used and thrown away when done.
    We need more love in this world.
    Unfortunately, our big music and entertainment industries see us as objects designed to consume the products they are selling. Their lack of respect for people is shown in their many offerings of music and entertainment focused on reducing women to “B&H” as well as other dehumanizing images and stereotypes that do nothing to increase love. In their world, we are mere objects to be exploited as long as we continue to buy their products.

  7. Chris —
    I agree today’s “Rap” music is an awful earful — but how did we did we get here?
    When and how did the cheapening get started? Is it all on the music business or does the mainstream media play a role? Have the parents given in to the grotesqueness of the constant wash of culture streaming over their children?

  8. David,
    I think you are right.
    If the parents didn’t buy the music for their kids, then the record companies wouldn’t be putting it out there. People in the urban core aren’t necessarily buying the music in ways that makes a profit for the recording industry — there are enough flea markets, gas stations, and street hustlers selling bootleg copies.
    Most “B&H” type music is bought by suburban kids far removed from the mean urban streets they so admire from the safety and comfort of their suburban streets many miles away. In reality, it’s the parents’ money given to these kids that is fueling the perpetuation of the negative stereotypes about women and men.

  9. Chris —
    Yes, I think the mainstream parents are the key — they’re overwhelmed with two jobs and two mortgages and student loan payments and they’ve lost direct oversight of what is going into their child’s ears and coming out of the mouth.
    I cannot imagine a middle class parent — when questioned directly about the use of “B&H” — would say, “Gee, it’s a super great thing!” I think they’d at least feign outrage at the humiliation of the terms and it is that very societal check on the parents that is missing.
    Your children are your children and my life is my life and if we intersect it will only be to say “hello” and “goodbye” as we pass each other in our SUVs.
    The cheapening happens in those crevices of uncaring and the lowest of us know the base human instinct is to rebel and if you can make money off that effort, then you’re following the American dream.

  10. Dave!
    I love your history lesson for those who may not be aware of the importance of music as a powerful force in American life.
    All those excellent examples you name, however, had an inspiration in freedom and of equalizing bodies and genders. In the struggle was an honor that gave significance to the movement.
    In the era of “B&H” I don’t see a personal liberation or a higher calling in the term or attitude. All I see is hatred and wounding and I want to know how and why things changed so horribly for the majority youth of today. Were did they get lost and who put them in the world of the insult as compliment?

  11. Last Summer I worked as a University Summer Camp Coordinator for Pre College program; it was with my utter disappointment I realized I was not being able to follow the participants’ conversation at all – it was a complete different ‘’lingo’’. I felt stupid. Though English is not my mother tongue, but back home my medium of study was English and I was under the impression that I could follow any kind of ‘’English’’ well – Indian, American, British, Chinese…….whatever, as long as it was English. But in that summer camp I was officially lost. I asked my supervisor about it and he was visibly embarrassed. Then he clarified that what they are talking is ‘’profanity’’. I am not appearing with a ‘’holier than Thou’’ kind of attitude, I myself do swear sometimes, use slang language but that was a whole different ball game!!!

  12. Katha!
    Thank you for sharing your international view of what I consider a cultural crisis in our American young.
    I, too, am embarrassed you had to put up with that kind of language when you are trying to do a fine job serving the students.
    Rise above, them, Katha! Don’t let them entice you into lowering your high standards and self-esteem!

  13. And yet if a Hispanic comedian referred to someone as a “joto” (as one very prominent comic did on Comedy Central), it would draw laughs. What do you think the fallout would be if he had said “fag” instead.
    I, myself, don’t like being referred to as Asian, as it is demeaning to me as someone of Pacific Island heritage and American upbringing.
    I also don’t like it when people mispronounce my last name.
    I particularly don’t like it when someone calls me “nerd” just because I’m good with computers and know why MP3s are so small.
    My point is, your perception of what is offensive is just that: your perception. That you may share this perception with a great deal of people, maybe even a majority, isn’t surprising, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re complaining about the usage of a microscopic subset of the wide-open English language. Are you complaining about bitches & hoes specifically? In England, the profanities are far worse, as most Americans are stunned whenever someone says “c*nt”. But then look at the reverse: Brits use “wanker” as a profanity as well. Here in America, we think it sounds funny.
    Or are you using “bitches & hoes” (notice how I spell it out in full glory instead of simply using the adopted convention of B&H; I’m offended by moral rectitude) as a means to channel your disgust with the expansion of what passes as day-to-day parlance? Is it disgust with a changing value system? I say disgust because you describe Gangsta Rap as incomprehensible and non-melodic. Improv jazz much? Cubism? e.e. cummings? I’m not suggesting that the latest Ludacris album will wind up in the 30th Century’s version of the Met; I do, however, perceive (it’s my perception) a hint of disdain toward the prevelance of a form expression that you find inferior to other incomprehensible and non-melodic forms of expression.
    Don’t worry, David. It isn’t just you. You just happened to be the first blog of the morning for me.
    In a sitcom the other night, there was a scene in which a character was staring down a brownie, fighting the temptation to eat it. In the end, he picks it up and says, “You win this time, you chocolate bitch.”
    A generation ago, there would have been riots in the streets. Now, a laugh track.
    [NOTE: This comment has been edited for content by David W. Boles]

  14. I didn’t mean that they were deliberately trying to demean me; It was coming very naturally, they were using some kind of ‘’broken slang’’ (according to my supervisor that is a ‘’rap influence’’) amongst themselves and sometimes with others. I think every generation has their own ‘’lingo’’, and it starts with the ‘’students’’. We had our own too. But what I found different was the gradual inclination towards vulgarity which was not the case before. It is not that my country is in a paradise, it is happening there too – this ‘’lingo’’ is becoming the first step to announce the adolescence individuality…….
    I took it as a part of the game but it made me feel sad, why on earth a generation has to succumb to blasphemy to prove their independence?

  15. The music is also highly materialistic, which fits into our selfish human desires.
    Listen to most music today and you’ll find that there are references to items that can be bought at your local car dealer, cellular telephone or liquor store.
    Note also that a lot of the “B&H” artists also market clothing to women, such as Nelly’s Applebottoms, Diddy’s Sean John, or Jay Z’s Rocawear.
    Jewelry stores are also getting in on the action as they market “grillz” made of diamonds and other jewels that can be placed over ones teeth so that a young “pimp” can attract more “Bs” and “Hs.”
    “Smile for me daddy. Let me see your grill,” as the popular Paul Wall song goes.

  16. This is not to detract from the subject matter, which is quite significant, but I thought it might amuse a little.
    I saw a game show recently where one of the questions was, “Name a garden utensil which also refers to a person of reprehensibly low moral values.”
    Can you guess which garden utensil has this distinct honor?

  17. Thinking about Ron’s comment I have to say that I enjoy hip hop and rap music. I tend to gravitate more to the more soothing tunes played on XM’s “Neo Soul” channel 61.
    It’s the constant use of terms that demean women that makes my skin crawl and is raising the objections over the use of certain terms.
    I also could do without some of the violent themes — our country’s a violent enough place without glorifying it in our entertainment. Just yesterday, the drummer for the Jackson 5 was killed in the city next to mine and a woman I know was killed last month there. Objectifying people leads to violence — I’m not sure if it would have made any differences in the above cases, but a culture that fully embraces violence and objectification of women makes it more likely.
    Having two versions of the music is telling. The parents hear one version on their top 40 over-the-air station and the kids hear another on their uncensored CDs and MP3s.
    The music is fun overall and that’s why it’s attractive. It would be better if artists didn’t feel the need to demean people in order to have fun.

  18. Ron —
    I think you’re arguing several angles and I am uncertain of your overall point.
    I would counter the part of your argument I understand in that “Asian” and “nerd” do not have the same universal historic history of resonance of repression as “B&H” — and I choose to shorten the length of the phrase to save space and time, not because I am afraid to use it.
    Rap is not melodic.
    Further messages from you will be placed in moderation first because you violated the posting policy of this blog. The “C-word” will never be acceptable here.

  19. Katha —
    I took it as a part of the game but it made me feel sad, why on earth a generation has to succumb to blasphemy to prove their independence?
    Beautifully said and I thank you for taking my point and pounding it home!

  20. And I think you’re absolutely right. The disintegration of the family (and by that I mean any family, traditional or otherwise) is causing a generation of youth to go flailing in the wind, looking for surrogates for Tenderness and Individuality. Put simply, those are manifestations of Love for Others and Love for Self. There’s too many heart-shaped holes right now, and any passing fad will be more than obliged to fill it.

  21. Gordon!
    Love your joke/conundrum!
    I was torn when choosing today’s post title because “Bitches and Hos” is how I’ve always seen the phrase written, but doing a bit of research, it seems “Bitches and Hoes” is the more direct spelling of the phrase in the context was discussing and “hoe” does bring up a couple of silly images as you suggest!
    😀

  22. Chris!
    Again, you make an excellent difference between “radio safe” music and the “XXX” rated version kids can download from iTunes in their bedroom while watching the grinding on MTV.
    Parents need to pay attention! Their children won’t like it — but that’s the point!

  23. I take exception whenever someone utters such ugly words as the b & h words. (not the famous camera store in NY) The english language is full of words that are not vulgar – so why use so many vulgar ones to express what would otherwise be a non-vulgar opinion?
    It is interesting – there is a discussion in the talmud about how the Torah avoids using vulgar language. One example cited is where the Torah refers to bringing together animals for Noah’s Ark – “…from the animals that are tahor* and from the animals that are not tahor” instead of writing “…from the animals that are tahor and from the animals that are tamei**”. The Torah, which is concise and uses no more words or even letters to express something, went out of its way to not use a vulgar expression to teach that one should avoid vulgar expressions.
    * – an animal in a state of ritual purity – nowt to do with physical cleanliness
    ** – a person contaminated by ritual contamination, related to corpses, also has nowt to do with physical cleanliness

  24. It seems possibly (I’m just guessing) this thing started somewhere around my generation. From time to time in my college days my friends and I have called each other bitch or slut in a joking manner. I don’t think we thought much of it and maybe the terms have become less meaningful with it in so many songs. I think ever since the song Bitch by Meredith Brooks came out that may have been around when it started. I actually saw a documentary on the word “slut” and posted about it. Mind you I haven’t done that kind of thing in years…surprisingly maturity seemed to set in.

  25. Gordon!
    I love it you made the “B&H” Camera joke! I was tempted to do it but I didn’t think anyone would get it. B&H is the greatest store for cameras and supplies — even if you don’t live in NYC.
    I agree with you about the vulgarity of language. One of my English Professors at Nebraska told us in class one day that “cursing is a sign of low intelligence. It means you cannot think of the right word so you dip into the gutter to save you. Build your vocabulary and you’ll find even better words to use that would just as bad without begging in the street.” To that, I still say: “Huzzah!”
    Love the Torah lesson, Gordon! Wonderful lessons for us all!

  26. …so do you know what gardening utensil I am referring to in the above game show question? 🙂
    I love B&H for two reasons. One, because it’s an amazing store. Two, because it’s owned and operated by brooklyn orthodox jews. hee hee.

  27. Dave —
    Great songs that live on in Muzak are songs that have a melody, a hook and a chorus and that are re-recorded time and again by other artists. That’s why you hear a lot of Broadway music, Barry Manilow music and Beatles music instrumentalized — you can recognize the song with or without the lyric and you can hum the melody in the shower.
    Rap and its modern variants do not share the same longevity prospects because Rap is defined by the culture that created it and the ideas and feelings do not translate well beyond the original song – hate and anger don’t have much resonance or timbre. I don’t think you’ll find many covers of Rap songs in the future — maybe clips from on Rap into another Rap — but you won’t find Rap songs becoming what is called in the biz: “A Standard.”

  28. David,
    I truly agree with your English Professor about using curse words, it shows low intelligence.
    I remember, I was very young and somehow learnt some curse words and started using at home. My Mom made sure that the day I used it in front of her I would learn 5 new words from the dictionary and she would take away my privilege of reading other magazines or books except ‘’text books’’ for that day. She also explained the same concept of ‘’low intelleigence’’ to me. Worked wonders! I didn’t want to be known as ‘’dumb!’’

  29. Hi Katha —
    Yes, ever since that day in English class, cursing has turned my stomach as I realize how much it has to say about laziness of the speaker of the vulgarity.
    I LOVE YOUR MOTHER! Now that was a woman who cared about class and perception and raising someone with something good to contribute to the world!

  30. Rap and its modern variants do not share the same longevity prospects because Rap is defined by the culture that created it and the ideas and feelings do not translate well beyond the original song – hate and anger don’t have much resonance or timbre.
    Hip hop has always sampled and borrowed from previous hits of the past. It’s always interesting to hear a hip hop joint that samples from an old Paul McCartney or some other popular song of the 70s, 80s, or 90s. This is how rap and hip hop will survive. They use the hooks from other songs that will stick in our minds.
    For the original music, I have a feeling in much the same way that Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze or the Doors’ Riders on the Storm is playing in an elevator or dentist’s office right now, some Notorious BIG or Ying-Yang Twins song will be remixed into a Muzak version to make the recording industry some more cheddar! (It’s always amazing how even though BIG is dead, his estate always releases new music every so often a la Nasty Girl).
    I can imagine going to the dentist in a few years and hearing a Muzak version of Get Low while getting my teeth cleaned.

  31. Chris, Chris, Chris…
    You conveniently quoted me without including the very next sentence:
    I don’t think you’ll find many covers of Rap songs in the future — maybe clips from on Rap into another Rap — but you won’t find Rap songs becoming what is called in the biz: “A Standard.”
    That sentence demonstrates my understanding and rejection of your sampling argument. How very lawyerly of you!
    :mrgreen:
    Time will tell if Rap becomes an emotional mainstream standard or not.

  32. You are probably right about Rap songs not becoming a “Standard.”
    I was thinking about a parking garage I use in Chicago, the International Parking Institute’s award winning Government Center Self-Park that has floors designed by popular musicians of The Great American Songbook.
    Sometimes I park on the George Gershwin level. Other days, if I get in early, the Cole Porter level. If I’m really late, sometimes I have to drive up to the Rogers and Hart floor to park the car.
    Along those lines, I doubt we’ll see a parking garage designating its floors with the names of the great rappers of the 1990s and 2000s.
    I don’t think we’ll hear people getting into the elevator saying, “Honey, don’t forget that we parked the car on the Ludacris level.”

  33. Chris!
    Those hotlinks you provided made me laugh! It’s pretty funny there are awards for parking garages! My, their PDF file is certainly beautiful!
    😆
    I think you’re right that the old “melody makers” are pretty much gone forever because young people today aren’t taught that melody is everything when writing music – so they don’t know how or why to do it – and so the fine art of creating a standard that has great current popularity will never happen again.

  34. I have been called a bitch a number of times by my ex partner. He used it every time something didn’t go his way. Then after we split and I moved to Canada, him and a few of his buddies discovered my partners blog and used it to degrade me with every name under the sun. In the space of an hour they left over 200 comments to one post. It only stopped when my partner turned off anonymous comments.
    Myself and my friends have jokingly called each other bitches, but I have NEVER been called or called someone else a ho. I cannot see what young girls would find endearing about being called such a disgusting and degrading name. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s not funny, yet so many young girls seem to think it is. Don’t they realize how stupid they make themselves look when they call other people names like that? If you ask me, it reveals their true age – and lord knows, you should only treat someone the age they act. If they use words like that, they should be slapped and sent to their rooms!

  35. Not to worry David. I also believe in another little saying – What goes around comes around. He’ll get his one day. After all the crap and the hell he put me through, I can only hope that I’m around to see it happen!

  36. Hi I am Bianca. And we are doing a project in school about how some rap songs demean women. Do you have any information about that besides what you have already posted.