When I first heard the term ‘thot’ of course my reaction was ‘what the hell did you say?’ Then I became aware that it means either ‘that hoe out there’ or ‘that hoe over there’ as a simple and general euphemism for calling out a promiscuous woman or just a person who behaves ghetto (see rachet). As a black female I am not offended by the term itself as it’s another form of expression to describe women who are considered morally bankrupt and scandalous. So I’m not offended by its creation, use, or proliferation. It’s unfortunately the current state of things. But I am concerned that this term seems to mainly be used in the black community, it has had some mainstream cross over, but not much. My concern is that as a marginalized group in America we still engage in shaming practices when we don’t know a person. We casually call Mimi and other quasi-celebrities like her a ‘thot’ and give little consideration to the fact that we are being dismissive and subjugating another individual or group of individuals with similar social and cultural behaviors. And we subjugate and dismiss our women as if this is not what we fight mainstream white culture about all the time, stereotyping someone and not really knowing who they are as a person. What looks like promiscuity or rachetness could be any number of things. And if the behavior happens to be accurately judged as promiscuity and rachetness, what do we gain in pointing it out?
This is a problem because clearly black people in America, despite the assertions of mainstream culture, are not a monolith. We are a minority with a collective experience of persecution but we are definitely a diverse group of people and it shouldn’t be assumed we’re all alike or want the same things. But our shared history of oppression ideally should make us sensitive and empathetic to prejudging our own so viciously. However the use of thot and its pervasive proliferation, particularly in rap music, seems to indicate once again that we are no better at not dominating, disrespecting, and putting others down we consider to be a lesser person that ourselves. This isn’t abnormal nor unexpected because as humans we have a tendency to group others for easy social digesting and tear them down so they are not a threat. Institutionalized socioeconomic disenfranchisement anyone? Through out human history we’ve engaged in this behavior to survive and dominate others. The problem is that this behavior simply has very little place in our society today. Collective cooperation and mutual understanding are what help social groups increase their socioeconomic standing, not oppression.
Tearing people down doesn’t serve much purpose if the goal is to increase the quality and standard of living for African Americans. So in using a term like ‘thot’ I have to ask the question; what are we getting out of it? What are we accomplishing when we judge and tear down our black women? Treating each other as threats to our well being and tearing them down by disrespecting and demeaning each other has very little social currency or relevancy and yet we engage in it quite often.
And to be clear this synonym for a promiscuous women is not a new thing, we’ve slut shamed women for millenia and I don’t see it changing anytime soon, but as black people we are utterly required to maintain a cultural and situational awareness in life if we’re to be successful and get ahead and it seems few are taking the time to think about why they’re calling someone a ‘thot.’ Alright Chief Keef you don’t love no thotties. Anddddddd? What does it mean? Why is this worthy to propagate? If a person can’t come up with an answer other than ‘it’s the thing to do’ they should probably stop and think before using it. Words have great power and we’ve already got hoe, tramp, slut, gold digger, trollop, and harlot to properly denigrate a person’s sexuality, do we really another?