I like the Echo, I miss it when it’s not in print and I read it. But, I do not appreciate being called a “ho.” With the levels of rape on college campuses, and violence against women generally, such objectifications of women are not helping. Think of your sisters, mothers, girlfriends, female professors and all the women and girls in your life before you use such hate speech again. Please, I implore you! Words can cause harm. Using the word “ho” contributes to a culture of violence and inequality. Be part of the solution, not the problem, and stand up for all women and girls. Man of 1000 Thoughts, think again.
Averell Manes, Professor
Political Science and Conflict Resolution
A: Dear Professor Averell Manes,
I took some time to think about how I was going to respond to this. There seems to be a misunderstanding of what the “Man of 1,000 Thoughts” column is supposed to be; so, I thought I’d address this without the pizzazz of the “Man of 1,000 Thoughts.”
It’s unfortunate that my article was interpreted in the negative fashion that it was. I grew up with a single mother and an older sister. Both of them are responsible for raising me, and I think about them every day. So when I was asked think about mothers, sisters, girlfriends, I felt unsettled. I was confused after I read this letter. To it bluntly, the “Man of 1,000 Thoughts” column is and has always been a satire.
To address these specific issues with the text, I want to first say I wasn’t calling anyone a “ho.” Maybe it was an overestimation on my part, but knowing I was catering to a college audience, I used a pop culture reference that was lost in translation to some readers that are not a part of the college youth.
The song “Loyal,” by American singer Chris Brown, peaked at number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart this year and received extensive radio play. As of July, it has sold over a million copies in the United States. In other words, the song was very popular and successful. The chorus of the song has Chris Brown sing, “These hos ain’t loyal.” This is why I wrote, “A society focused on…” instead of “I’m focused on,” because it was a direct reference to this song. This is where the irony comes in.
The reason I chose to include this is because Chris Brown is known for beating his then girlfriend, pop-culture icon Rhianna, in 2009. And apparently everyone was upset over this. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a terrible thing. He then released this song “Loyal,” clearly objectifying women and calling them “hos,” and it becomes one of the most popular songs of the year. You can go to most college parties and see the kids getting down to it. No one seems to mind, and it’s the same man known to beat women.
Personally, I found this ironic, and was trying to bring attention to the fact that we claim, as a society, that we hold these morals and that treating women this way is bad. Yet these same people will push assailant Chris Brown’s song about “hos not being loyal” to the top of the charts. It sickens me, but that’s why I pointed it out in the way that I did. It was meant to highlight this fact, and bring attention to the irony of it.
I can’t be responsible for everyone’s knowledge of pop culture. I try to leave a fair amount of textual evidence to remind the reader that they’re reading satire. In the paragraph before the one in question, I said, “Don’t you know being confident and assertive for yourself isn’t cool? It might suggest some sort of self respect, and who wants that?” I find it hard to believe anyone would take this seriously, and think that I was advocating insecurity. For the record, I was suggesting people should be confident and assertive for themselves, but unfortunately some aren’t being conditioned that way.
I’m trying to highlight and critique the same issues that I’m being accused of creating.
This response stands as a testimony that, while there is a very strong and well organized feminist cause in today’s Western society, there are still many other groups of people that still have little to no representation. Some of the other groups that I talked about in a satirical sense in the aforementioned column include the handicapped, when I called myself a “more practical version” of Stephen Hawking.
I find that, while it is important to stand up for gender equality, something I steadfastly believe in, it is also important to stand up for everyone, not just the social groups you choose.
Maybe my approach may not be understood, but I just want to be on the same page and for my audience to understand that I’m writing in character when I write my column. It’s meant to be a reflection of the current pop culture landscape, and focus on my qualms with it.