(The Root) —
"Where does the expression 'hoes be winning' come from? I never understood why so many women believe that only sucky women get good men. Am I naive? Can you clue me in?" —H.J.
Oh, where do I begin? I can't pinpoint for the first use of the phrase, but I first began hearing it in 2011. Around that time, Kanye West had recently broken up with former exotic dancer Amber Rose; Drake had dated Maliah Michel, a stripper from Miami's King of Diamonds; and Chris Brown was dating Draya Michele, also a dancer and soon-to-be reality-show star.
The men, based on their fame and wealth, are deemed desirable — yes, even Brown. Because some of the women they chose for temporary partners had past occupations deemed less than favorable, the women were designated "hoes." And because they landed desirable men, some considered them to have "won." Hence the birth of the (disgusting) term "Hoes be winning."
Here's the big problem with the phrase. The women are being judged solely on the perception that they have loose morals — a standard to which men are not usually held. But even if one believes that these women practice less-than-ladylike behavior, that's not all they bring to the table.
What all of the above-mentioned women who have been called "hoes" have in common is that they are widely regarded as exceptionally attractive. That's a trait that some men — and women, too — prize. It allows for some people to ignore other potential shortcomings, at least until they get bored. Also, if a woman actually was that sexist epithet, that would not negate any other positive traits she may possess, like loyalty, kindness or empathy.
Let me also address the very limited definition of "winning" in this case. Because the men are rich and famous does not automatically mean that they bring anything more to the table than money and paparazzi. Many of us have a bad habit of equating wealth with good character. Money doesn't make anyone a good person. That's not to say that the men in question are bad; we should not judge their goodness solely on their finances. It takes more than money to be a good partner.
I would also encourage a reconsideration of the definition of "winning." The phrase you mention is in the midst of a resurgence with the news that Kim Kardashian is pregnant by Kanye West. Because she was introduced to the public via a sex tape with Ray J, her then-boyfriend of three years, and is still married to estranged hubby Kris Humphries, she has often been called a "ho." When announcing her pregnancy, West referred to her as his "baby mama," which I consider to be disrespectful. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't marry her, though — because she is still married. I ask you, is that really winning?
A similar scenario could be said for many women who are called "hoes" who date rich men. There's a lot of dating and a lot of pregnant women in this group, but few wives. If the goal is becoming what some would call a "baby mama" — another horrible term, in my book — then perhaps that's winning. If one desires a ring, a marriage license and an actual commitment, it isn't.
Many of us have a tendency to watch what celebs do and think it's a reflection of the everyday world. It is not. See all those high-profile black men with nonblack wives? They're the minority overall. The vast majority of black men marry black women, even wealthy ones. The same thinking applies to celebrity men who "wife-up" but don't marry women whom some would consider of lesser moral standards. Because celeb men do it doesn't mean the average guy — the one you're more likely to encounter — will do the same.
All types of women get "good" men. Keep being your best you. Look for a man who also brings his best to the table. Don't ever compromise who you are to meet the perception of what it takes to "win."
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at email@example.com.