|The least offensive meme I found.|
A former student posted a meme with the term “THOT” on it and it made me cringe. I ended up talking to the student about why it bothers me. I know people are going to come at me for saying I’m a feminist (mainly because they have the wrong idea about what that means), but I am. I am also against discrimination based on religion, race, class, age, sexual orientation, and physical abilities. In the mix with all this, is the fact that I also believe that men and women should be equal. This is what feminism is: the belief that all people should be equal and that all people should be treated with respect.
Here’s the thing about the acronym THOT, the very fact that it’s short for “That Ho Over There” makes it disrespectful to women. It is also sometimes used as shorthand for variations on that theme: “that ho over there,” “that ho out there,” “thirsty hoes out there.” Essentially, the base of this term is another way to say “slut” or a girl/woman who boys/men want to have sex with, but no commitment to and would not consider as girlfriends for one reason or another. The clearest definition I’ve ever found for this term is the following Urban Dictionary definition:
Another way I’ve seen people define women as a THOT is by what she consumes/buys. Seriously, lists are circulating with things like Chipotle, Red Lobster biscuits, McNuggets, and Jolly Ranchers on it, as if defining people by what they eat is a funny thing. Here’s the thing though, it’s not funny. Over the years, political cartoons, racist jokes, and classist commentaries have used food to put groups down. Our current president has had to deal with the ugly side of cartoons during his presidency.
Being a THOT is also determined by the clothes a woman buys and where she buys them. In other words, certain people in our society have this magical, mystical unicorn of a girl in their head who fits a stereotype that doesn’t actually exist. All people are three-dimensional, not one-dimensional people. The meme up top was the least offensive one I found and it makes it clear that this term is one about socio-economic class as well. As Amanda Hess says in her article for Salon, “The fantastical nightmare of the thot is a woman who pretends to be the type of valuable female commodity who rightfully earns male commitment—until the man discovers that she’s just a cheap imitation of a “good girl” who is good only for mindless sex, not relationships or respect.” In the same way that “slut” is used by women against other women to define class–shaming women that are seen as “classless,” “low class,” “or rich sorority types”–as well as how their sexual behavior is seen. THOT is a word that is slung around as an insult and is something that both men and women use to shame women that they see as different, threatening, or less than themselves.
Hopefully, this term will go the way of the dinosaurs and disappear. Unlike dinosaurs, hopefully, it won’t leave it’s bones and construction behind for us to dissect. It is a term of disrespect. I do not hold with making a group of people into an insult. My students will tell you that if I hear a slur or see an offensive drawing that I will stop a class and lecture on the origin of slurs, the hateful histories behind them, and how the Civil Rights Movement has changed our people for the better. I have been known to stop my classes for a month when I found it to be particularly over the top and start a unit on human rights immediately. We live in a country where we are supposed to have respect for all people. Words/acronyms like THOT undermine what we have evolved into as a nation.
If you don’t think words have power, let me point out that most dictators use books and/or the censorship of books to disseminate their ideas and brainwash people into their beliefs. Mao Zedong used The Red Book. Hitler used Mein Kampf. In Cuba, Castro created laws that outlaw anything written that “publicly defames, denigrates, or scorns the Republic’s institutions, the political, mass, or social organizations of the country, or the heroes or martyrs of the nation” and make clandestine printing outright illegal. If words weren’t important, this would not be the case. Words matter. How we use our words matters. Next time you hear the acronym THOT, think through what it means and whether you’re comfortable with people doing so around you. If you’re not, speak up. If you are, that’s your choice. I, for one, am not.