What's A "Hoe Phase?" How 'Insecure' Season 2 Breaks Down The Double Standard
By the looks of the Season 2 trailer, we know one major thing: Lawrence and Issa are not going to recover from her cheating on him with Daniel, at least for the first few episodes.
Instead, we see Issa diving back into the dating world and hanging out more with her friends under her newly single status.
The show's creator and writer, Issa Rae, hinted during an interview on The Breakfast Club morning radio show that the plot will focus more on the ladies' sexcapades. Basically, Issa is about to get her sex and dating life popping.
Issa Rae shared,
One of the things I'm excited about [is] just a bunch of stuff that black women talk about but you don't get to see on TV. We dabble into the hoe phase this season.
"Hoe phase" is a term used to described sexual liberation in the dating scene, which is usually all about having fun with zero permanent ties.
Issa Rae went on to describe the "hoe phase," and how there are three different ways women have one.
The first group doesn't engage in non-committed sexual activity and chooses to wait on a relationship.
The second group goes on a full-out quest to f*ck all they can and "get their numbers up." Rae expressed that this group isn't interested in commitment and are often not able to rid themselves of the "hoe" label, even when or if they end their "phase."
The third group dibbles in sexual liberation without commitment, but also seeks and finds intimacy with a partner.
Her three groups prove something else about the "hoe phase:" It's really just normal activity!
There are social norms and then there are realities. Stay with me, peeps.
"Hoe phase" is the pop culture term we've used to coin a time of sexual freedom. That's our social norm. Oftentimes women are described as having a "hoe phase" as if it's a season that we snap in and out of, unlike men, whose "hoe phase" is filled with culturally accepted behavior for their gender.
The reality is that a woman's sexual desires and choices are literally considered taboo to the point that when we express them outwardly, they are seen as unnatural and a temporary season in our lives, while the "hoe phase" for men is business as usual.
Them going in and out of the "hoe phase" doesn't define them or create damaging reputations. As Issa Rae pointed out in her analysis of the three types of "hoes," that's not always the case for women.
When a woman's hoe phase is performed for too long or in a manner that isn't considered respectable, she keeps that "hoe" title for life, and it guides how people think they can treat her in multiple settings.
What people overlook for sexism's sake is that women have sexual desires like men and should be free to be open about them if they wish. Being honest about enjoying certain sexual acts or upfront with a guy about only wanting a f*ck buddy shouldn't change anyone's perception of what "kind" of girl or woman you are and how much respect you deserve.
Guys make choices to sleep with women they aren't committed to and to be savagely single with zero interest in a relationship, and no one bats an eye.
As long as there is no dishonesty there (ahem! that's usually the hard part for the fellas), then they should be perfectly fine with living their lives this way until they want to do something different.
That's just basic decision-making, and doesn't need a term to define it. We, women and men, commit when we get good and damn ready; the same goes for when we decide to sleep with someone sans a title.
Insecure normalizing this side of women matters so much.
In a pop culture climate where a lot of the women who are considered "hoes" or "sluts" are reclaiming the term and refusing to be shamed for being sexual beings, Insecure is going to be right on time.
We live in the era of Blac Chyna, a former stripper who people felt showed her body so much that she doesn't deserve the right to a choice about when her body should be shown to the world. For clarity, she entirely owns the right to choose when and how her body is show; it was never Rob's place to expose any photos of her, even if they were originally for his eyes.
Blac Chyna is literally in the group that Issa Rae claims can never escape the "hoe" label. There is also Amber Rose who has been called a "slut" so much that she created an annual slut walk to combat the shaming. We can also consider Kim Kardashian, who made a consensual sex tape with her former boyfriend, singer Ray-J, and has been labeled a slut ever since.
You see, the "hoe phase" is not just about who you have sex with, but how you dress, how open you are about your sexuality, whether or not you are in a committed relationship, and who knows about what goes on in your bedroom. Any little factor can earn a woman the "hoe" title, whether or not she had sex with anyone.
It all comes down to the world not wanting women to have choices and the constant judgment we have to endure. When we do make choices that go against society's expectations of how we perform our womanhood, some rationalize it as a "phase." But it's just real life.
When Issa jumps into her dating world in Insecure, she'll be fresh off of her breakup with Lawrence, single AF, and trying to mingle heavy.
We see her leaning over to awkwardly kiss a guy, trying to take boob pics at work, asking her bestie Molly to teach her "how to hoe," and hilariously attempting to get her "sexy walk" down for an evening out.
Issa is us; she's a woman with sexual desires who is trying to find a way to navigate them without apology now that she is no longer in a relationship.
She's trying new stuff and embracing her desire to be sexy. In the world of "anybody can be a hoe," we need to see that adventures like Issa's are not "hoeing" at all, but instead are normal human activities that women have been shamed out of for too long.
Do you, Issa. And if you want to, do him. And we'll be watching as you explore your way through it all.