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Women Heal, Men Hoe: A “Love” Story

Dating

I could have been a hoe.


As a matter of fact, if my memory and mathematical abilities serve me correctly, I was approximately three f-ck boys, two premature heartbreaks, and one motherless childhood away from choosing this said path.

I started dating in college, so when it comes to love and successful dating experiences, my frame of reference is limited at best. During that time, I'll be honest and say that I wasn't the best at selecting the men I gave my time to.

In fact, through a strange twist of role reversal, I did most of the pursuing, which led me to meet my first love; let's call him Zack. As life would have it, I met him through a mutual friend about a month after he had just gotten out of a year-long relationship. He was living up North at the time, so we were just two star-crossed lovers with nothing but space and starved infatuation between us.

His charm and sense of humor made falling for him easier than any of the subjects I was studying at the time, and before I could pick myself up, I was in love.

He was something new.

He was my little secret that none of my associates on campus knew about, just my dad and sister who were annoyed by the time that I spent talking all night on the phone with him. I was consumed by him. He was the first voice I wanted to hear when I woke up and the last one I wanted to hear at night, even when the two merged together.

He was my first everything. Before him, I had no idea the superhuman abilities that love could arm you with, how light and airborne you could feel even with your feet planted on the ground. But even with my newfound superpowers, I was left crippled with the inability to read minds.

Zack had a secret: he was still healing from his previous relationship and I was his kryptonite.

With all of the therapy sessions I committed myself to with him, I was unknowingly assisting him in an emotional suicide. I thought for sure that with enough time and effort, I would be the very thing to put him on his feet, nurse him to health, and have him back on the frontlines of love with me. But the opposite was true.

Only recently did it dawn on me that I was his rebound chick.

I was the vessel used to help him get over his previous girl by getting under, around, and through me.

At the time, I thought, "This is just how love is, this is just what happens when you're committed to someone. You love them through the pain even at the expense of yourself."

I wanted so badly for him to get better, for him to stop talking to me about "her." About what clothes she looked best in, about her pageant days, about her voluptuous physique, about all the guys he fought on her behalf. I wanted those stories to end so ours could finally begin.

I wanted him to see my value, to not refer to me as his "friend" when being introduced to his family on Thanksgiving. I wanted him to put a title on this "thing" we had and make me his girl. But after 10 months of love unloved, I knew my happily ever after would never come from him. So yeah, I would have been a hoe.

Looking back on this, I don't know why I chose to take the high road in my healing process. They say the best way to get over a man is by getting under another one, but that logic never seemed to add up to me.

How was this hypothetical new guy just supposed to swoop in and take all this pain away? What healing powers did his penis possess? How could he possibly save me?

In theory, after I broke things off with Zack, I should have been humping and bumping everything in sight as long as they'd sit still.

I should have had bodies on top of bodies for the sake of my heart. I should have experienced all the dick that my school, town, and the entire Southern border had to offer as long as I did it in the name of self-care. But I regret to inform you that I just didn't have it in me.

I couldn't see myself using another person's heart as a sacrificial offering to my grief.

I couldn't see myself choosing my temporary satisfaction over their long-term pain. I couldn't see myself doing them like Zack did me, whether initially or not. I'm not blaming him, heck, it takes two to tango, but he taught me a valuable lesson in self-love. I had to do the work myself.

My healing process was a one-woman job that only I had the tools to execute.

Maybe not at the time, but certainly in retrospect, I saw that only I could help myself out of the rut that love has placed me in. I had to love me, again.

So yeah, I should have been a hoe. Maybe for just a day, or a week, or up until this very moment, but I decided to heal instead.

*Article originally published on aleyarion.com

Featured image by Shutterstock

When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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