Variations on the phrase “Bros and Hoes,” seem to inspire the theme of every private high school party I hear of: “CEOs and Office Hoes,” “Dinosaurs and Sluts,” “Football Bros and Cheerleading Hoes,” are some of the invitations I’ve noted on Facebook and by word of mouth.
My indignation at this phenomenon isn’t to say that students shouldn’t take the time to organize and attend out-of-school events to have fun with their friends. Students, however, need to ask questions about these themes and reevaluate the goal of these parties. Why do we accept a setting in which the principal guideline depicts men as powerful and fraternal while women are sexualized and degraded? Why must the culture of parties glorify men and debase women? These questions come naturally to me, but it seems they do not to most students.
Such themes come from a society in which words such as “slut” and “ho” are part of the vernacular. While normalizing offensive terms can be positive for groups (the gay community took on the label queer to help diffuse its stigma), in the context of party themes empowering women doesn’t seem to be the goal. Nicki Minaj’s song “Stupid Hoe,” uses the word “hoe” upwards of 40 times in its three minutes and 30 seconds. It spent weeks in the U.S. Singles Top 100. It may not be a far leap from songs to party themes, but we should think twice before imitating the worst elements of our broader culture.
If I go to a party, do I submit to being called a prostitute? If a boy attends does that mean he accepts debasing his female peers? I don’t think that kids think in these terms when getting ready to attend events like “The Night of the Giving Head:” (a play on “The Night of the Living Dead,” not intended to be an oral-sex party but a Halloween Party), but they should.