I remember one night, I was out with my friend and her girls. We were sitting in the car, about to head out to a party when “Loyal” by Chris Brown blares from the speakers. Without hesitation, most of the girls in the car start vibing to it, singing the lyrics underneath their breath: “These hoes ain’t loyal! Uh, uh, uh. These hoes ain’t loyal!” While they passionately sung along, I just sat there. Chris Brown is notoriously misogynistic and it’s evident in his mistreatment of women–emotionally, physically and even through his music. This song exemplified his view on women who were not tolerable of his bullshit and therefore dipped–something he doesn’t seem to appreciate. “These hoes ain’t loyal!” the girls sang along again, even more loudly than before.
I just sat there in deep thought which is something that’s not out of the ordinary for me even in supposedly lighthearted settings such as this. I began to think… “Wow, misogyny is so deeply ingrained into our culture that women sing along with lyrics that are not in their favor but aids to their detriment.” Now before you say anything, I know what most people will say: “If you’re not a hoe, then why are you mad?” Well first, the term “hoe” is a social construct that is used to police women’s sexual and anatomical agency. Second, regardless if I don’t fit the rather subjective meaning of what a “hoe” is, I don’t stand for the mistreatment of other women as well. It’s still not in my favor nor am I flattered with the exceptionalism.
But I digress…
That moment in the car made me think of other times where misogyny is right in our faces and we just shrug it off. Why do we shrug it off? Because, society as a whole does not value women in our entirety. Respect isn’t an inherent thing that women get unlike with men. According to mainstream culture:”It’s a man’s job to respect a woman but it’s a woman’s job to give him something to respect.” What’s ironic about this popular quote is that the obligations of an actual job isn’t conditional. A job comes with requirements and you don’t get to decide whether or not you’ll abide by those requirements. You do them.
Most men, because of patriarchal conditioning, tend to only see the humanity of a woman unless she holds some sort of value to him. Don’t believe me? Well, have you ever noticed that when we’re trying to get men to understand that disrespect towards a woman shouldn’t be tolerable, we have to bring up “What if it was your mom? Your sister? Your daughter?” for them to get the picture? Simply saying, “You shouldn’t disrespect a woman because she’s human like you” isn’t enough for not only just men but for people in general. I remember on Twitter I made a similar statement and for days, I had people in my mentions trying to refute it. “If you a hoe, I don’t have to respect you.” “So.. I’m just suppose to respect a woman off jump? No.” “Respect is earned, not given.”
Ain’t that a trip?
A statement such as “don’t disrespect women” is controversial and is apparently debatable. It makes me wonder if I had said “Don’t disrespect men because they’re human like you” would I had gotten the same response? Hm.. I’m kind of doubting it. I almost feel like most people would be like “duh.”
But it’s shameful that misogyny is so deeply ingrained that we’re complacent with the mistreatment of women and we can pick and choose what women are “deserving” of respect. And when we say deserving of respect, most times, a woman has to be “modest” in order to be respectable–that’s what society says. Respect is so conditional for women that if a woman simply wears a scantily clad outfit, she will be dragged all up and down as if she just murdered someone. People will completely put her down and reduce her entirety as a person to an… outfit.
Something I’ve noticed and this is really when I realized that misogyny is so normalized, whenever people slut shame another woman, I correct them.
“She’s a hoe–” “She has a name. Use it.”
“She’s being a slut–” “You don’t have to call her that.”
And what gets me is that people are genuinely surprised when I correct them. The look of incredulity astounds me. They honestly look at me like: “You don’t call women out their names when their lifestyle doesn’t meet your sexist standards? Whaaaaa??? Weirdo.” That’s when I truly realized misogyny is such a way of life in our society. Shaming a woman for her sexual choices is the popular thing to do and if you don’t tolerate her being disrespected (simply because of her being sexually active) you’re the weirdo–you’re the odd ball out. That’s incredible to me.
Other examples of how normalized misogyny is: every person regardless of gender will throw around misogynist slurs such as “bitch” like there’s no tomorrow. If I was to go into public and call a girl a “bitch”, people may stop and stare but no one would be ready to protest. Now… if a white woman was to call me the n-word in public? Not only will people stop and stare, I am 75% sure people will say something. I definitely know other black people would say something. Other black people would probably be ready to fight her. Now could I say that other women would be willing to fight me if I called another girl a “bitch?” Unless she was their friend or family… probably not.
Now, I’m not diminishing the damages of other forms of oppression or marginalization. That’s not my intention. My intention is to show how normalized misogyny is compared to others.
I can’t help but wonder why are we so complacent with women being mistreated? Why are we able to brush misogyny off? Why don’t we value women as much as we value men? Why don’t we prioritize women being respected just how we do with men?
I don’t have all the answers but I definitely peep the bullshit and we as a society need to do a lot of unpacking and confront our lack of empathy for women. It’s necessary if we want a better, safer future for women and the women to come after us. Do you value that?