Imus, you ignorant slut…

Did I miss something or is Don Imus the FIRST person to refer to a group of women as hoes?  Turns out he’s just the first person to be called on the carpet for it publicly in the 10+ years the word has been used by everyone from gangsta rappers to comedians to drunken frat boys.  The word has been part of our lexicon for so long, it’s been added to the American Heritage Dictionary.   The Urban Dictionary (essentially the Wikipedia of dictionaries) gives a better insight to just how far down the social ladder a ho really is:  Ho = slut, whore, bitch, skank, prostitute, tramp, hooker, etc, etc, etc.

 Don Imus used the word ho in his satiric radio show last week, and has been subsequently (and correctly) tarred and feathered for it.  My question is why now?  Why not 10 years ago, before the word became so ingrained in our culture?    Maybe it’s because most women who are demeaned by this term aren’t nationally recognized college athletes.  We’re just average gals trying to get through our day to day lives while dodging the sexist bullets aimed at us every single day.   Here’s a news flash guys:  It’s never been OK with women to be referred to as hoes, or whores, or bitches, or cunts, or any of the other sexually-based epithets that are hurled at us, or about us, by men.

 Maybe we should be thanking Don Imus for being the scapegoat, although I sincerely doubt there will be any real, permanent change in the national vernacular that will lead to ending the use of this particularly vile term.   Society has always reserved its greatest disdain for sexually active or sexually provocative females, and ho is just one of many words used to “put us in our place.” 

Isn’t it about time we evolved?  Or is woman always doomed to continue to be, in the words of John Lennon , the nigger of the world?

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11 Responses to “Imus, you ignorant slut…”


  1. 1 PoliticalCritic April 11, 2007 at 6:24 am

    So is he being destroyed for the ‘ho’ comment or the ‘nappy hair’ comment? My guess is the latter.

    Either way, this story needs to go away. Surely, there are more important things to discuss on the news.

  2. 2 Blue Athena April 11, 2007 at 7:37 am

    I actually think it’s the combination of the two expressions that did him in. If he had just said ‘ho’, I think the word is used in a wide enough portion of the general populace that it would be only be taken as sexist (will address below) and not seen as necessarily racist.

    And if he just made a ‘nappy hair’ comment, as a white guy he might claim he didn’t really understand how this was racially offensive.

    But the combination of the two terms seems to expose a possible underlying racism that one can’t just apologize for. Yes, I can imagine other explanations…and maybe they are even true. But the odds and appearances are not in his favor.

    As for the sexism, I remember when I was finishing grad school and working in a gym. They played Imus over the loudspeaker as people were working out. A large bulk of our morning crowd was women in their 60s and 70s, and they (along with myself and others) found this offensive and inappropriate based on the sexist content.

    I complained to the owner — who refused to change the station. Sexism just doesn’t have the weight to back against it, because, I think, too many women would rather tolerate it in their own families than end up alone. It’s a harsh reality to face that women have to take some responsibility as a group for failing to make this a priority. I don’t believe, for instance, that any other female employee at that gym had ever complained about the show…the owner was that shocked.

    So yeah, people tolerated him way to long. And he got away with sexism in a way he didn’t get away with racism (perceived or real). But given that I would have happily seen him off the air years ago, I’m finding it hard to muster any energy to defend him.

  3. 3 observantbystander April 11, 2007 at 8:07 am

    You also hear frequent, blatant sexist and misogynist comments on radio morning shows whose main demographic is men 18-35. There is one station here in the Kansas City area with a morning show host who apparently aspires to be the next Howard Stern. His female cohost eventually quit her job because of his distasteful commentary, but the show is still rated #1 in our radio market. You’re right, Athena, about women simply tolerating sexism in society as a matter of course, which leads to a perpetuation of the same. I wonder if it’s because we simply perceive ourselves as not having a loud enough voice, or just a matter of throwing up our hands because “boys will be boys.” The more I think about this issue, the more complicated it becomes.

  4. 4 Prison Mike April 11, 2007 at 11:10 am

    What I find just as offensive as Imus’ comments is the Jackson/Sharpton bandwagon that rolled into town with demands that Imus be fired/hung on a cross. Of course along with the drawing and quartering of Imus, there needed to be new programs that address the needs of the offended. These programs are of course to be federally funded. I suppose this was the most important story in many many months if not years judging by the solid hour that the Today show devoted to it yesterday.
    If Imus had been a black talk show host and used the same words, would it have been treated the same way?
    In the hip-hop/gangsta culture, such terms are used every day in songs by any number of “artists”, yet I’m still waiting for the Jesse and Al Outrage Revue to call for any kind of sanctions against them.

  5. 5 Prison Mike April 11, 2007 at 11:14 am

    One more thing, Lennon said years later that during the making of Some Time in New York City that Woman is the Nigger of the World was just a working title. He later changed Woman to Yoko.
    LKLF baby! (Little Known Lennon Fact)

  6. 6 observantbystander April 11, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    Hmmm. I found this on Wiki, not the best or most accurate source for info, but here it is anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woman_Is_the_Nigger_of_the_World

  7. 7 observantbystander April 11, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Also Mike, you’ll be happy to know that the lead story on the NBC national news last night was all about the Imus comment. Probably the fact that a white man coupled the word “ho” with another unflattering reference to the texture of the black women’s hair was the reason for all the outrage, because black men have been using the Ho slur for a very long time.

    Remember the Diversity Day episode on The Office? Michael Scott was taken to task by corporate for repeating a Chris Rock routine – again, a white man attempting to step into the shoes of a black man. Granted, he inflicted his very bad Chris Rock imitation on his subordinates, but still…

    It’s been an interesting debate, but I’m ready for it to be over.

  8. 8 Prison Mike April 11, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I stand corrected. I was thrown off by a poor memory. In the director’s cut of the video of Live Peace in Toronto 1969, there’s a resurrected title – “Yoko is the Shrieker of the World”.
    Another LKLF – President Nixon actually considered using recordings of Yoko’s ‘singing’ broadcast from orbiting aircraft over Hanoi to force the Viet Cong to resume the Paris peace talks.

  9. 9 Jack Cluth April 11, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Don Imus is an idiot. That’s about as simple as I can make this. In a lame and stupid attempt at humor, he stepped in it with both feet. That makes him an idiot, but judging from the reactions around the country, you’d think he was raping our women and children.

    What I cannot understand is why everyone from Al Sharpton to Vivian Stringer is insisting on playing the victim. Even the Rutgers University women’s basketball team is getting into the act. What up wi’dat?? They’re words; they’ll only hurt if you allow them to. When did we lose the ability to simply ignore morons?

    Look, Imus’ words were stupid and hurtful, but they were only words. Offense can be taken only if a party chooses to do so, and it appears that way too many people have chosen to do that. Apparently, righteous indignation is the game the whole family can play. Yes, what Imus said was insulting, but sometimes the best way to beat a troll is to turn him off. If enough Americans simply hit the “off” button on their radios, does anyone think Don Imus would be on the radio for very long?

    Stop acting as if Imus kicked your dog. We’re bigger than this, and the people playing the victim card really need to get over their bad selves. Learn from it, try to take something positive out of the experience, and move on.

    ‘Course, it IS a lot more effective to play the victim and guarantee yourself your 15 minutes of fame, eh??

  10. 10 observantbystander April 11, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Great comments Jack. Tonight it was announced that CBS dropped his show. One last thought on this subject: The Rutgers gals missed a great opportunity to make this about something more than just themselves, by putting this in the context of slurs against women in general. Too bad they dropped the ball (pun intended).

  11. 11 Oldwhitewoman April 12, 2007 at 7:11 am

    What a bunch of nonsense! A grown man (does 65 yrs. old qualify?) said a combination of “words” (and if you support our president’s statement that our Constitution is just a bunch of those, I guess it isn’t important) that offended enough of us little people that he got taken off the air. And now the fraternity of white male broadcasters is so shocked that they just won’t shut up about it!
    Whos cares whether it’s the sponsors or not? It all comes down to offended viewers who felt he crossed the line. Or aren’t there anymore of those either?

    Now people are blaming everyone else for what he said, as if he were a five year old who fell into the trap of listening to and being conditioned by rap music. He’s just an old man who desperately wanted to keep his “cool” image. Maybe the combination of previous substance abuse and old age is what really did him in.

    And all you courageous folks that say these girls should just “get over it” are really big for forgiving the offense to someone else.


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