What are our expectations for Black women and femmes who are denied access to financial, emotional and physical safety and sustainability within our current social systems, to find means of survival? Do we expect that Black women and femmes are given options to unsubscribe from ho culture or wifey culture (anti-ho culture)? The reality is that Black women and femmes are forced into and simultaneously shamed for finding means of survival through access via relationships, sexual capital, desire politicking and scamming.
In defense of the scammers:
We are forced to find resources through what we can provide. Of course, white supremacist capitalism creates the basis of the societal system that enforces bartering and exchange of our humanity for access/safety/survival. But what supplements that ideology and disenfranchisement is antiblack misogyny and the exploitation of all black women and femmes as disposable tools of desire and labor. We are required to be sexualized in a way that appeases, stimulates and pleases everyone around us, and/or we’re required to provide labor in playing mammified supporting roles in raising the people around us.
In defense of the baby mamas and the side chicks:
It’s often that Black women and femmes are place-holders or secret exploits. We are always in the dark, in service as mothers, your partner during your come-up, or the crazy jealous ex. These tropes, these stigmas are actually real life shit. For the Instagram models, the video vixens, the hos that are always surrounded by rich men — the need to subscribe so deeply to being a desirable to a man, a person in power, under antiblack expectation is because without being in service to misogyny, we rarely are offered access to the lives we wish to have access to.
We have to participate in ho-ness when we have to use our sexual capital and desirability to garner access into spaces, resources and financial sustainability. We have to participate in wifey culture when we have to distinguish our ho-ness or that of anti-ho-ness. Our ho-ness always exists on a proximity scale in which wherever we fall on the scale, someone else is always beneath us.
As Black women and femmes, we are given an ultimatum: be a ho, or be a wife, but regardless, remember you’re disposable. The misogynistic violence we suffer from is scripted through an antiblack lens for our bodies, our experiences, our sexuality, our desire and our relationships. While our bodies are viewed through a lens of ho-ness from the moment we’re born, it is up to us to spend our lives fighting for purity and wifey material status. We’re also expected to play the roles of the baby mama, the side chick, the scammer, the ho because the role of wife, partner, worthy human being aren’t offered to us without barter or sacrifice.
Black women and femmes cannot inherently make it on their hard work, merit, beauty and worthiness within the current world we live in. We are forced to alter and mold ourselves into what will allow us access to survival through our appearance, performance, identities and silence. We are economically disenfranchised to access well-paying jobs, work opportunities, upward mobility or class protection. Even our investment within our presentation and performance cost us significantly more money.
Black women and femmes’ bodies are almost never considered within the design of clothing — especially fat black bodies — nor are the clothes that may fit us better offered within our price ranges. It requires that we go above and beyond, financially and physically, to find clothing to match our bodies, in order to perform desirability or white acceptability. Black women and femmes, specifically darker-skinned women and femmes, are denied access to affordable makeup that offers a wide range of makeup to match their skin tone. Additionally, our options for hairstyles are often limited due to the fact that our hair products are usually higher-end, overpriced, and/or located in hair shops owned and policed by non-black Asian and white owners.
Blac Chyna’s past year has shown us that regardless of if the scams and pettiness are intentional, it’s required for Black women and femmes — especially baby mamas — to define their power in ways that inconvenience those who profit from our exploitation and erasure. The ways in which the Kardashian/Jenner clan profit from the appropriation, exploitation and violence against Black women and femmes and our culture, it was only a reaffirmation of that violence when a Black woman who was close with the family was made a mockery of when her ex-fiance and the father of her child began dating Kylie Jenner with the support of the entire family. Blac Chyna’s rise to the top (regardless of what we frame “success” as) is powerful due to the fucked-up circumstances she was put in. We rarely see fairytales for Black hos, strippers or baby mamas in real life.
In reality, Black women and femmes are forced to participate and suffer antiblack misogyny due to the fact that survival, love and access to “Miss Independent” are limited by the institutional and interpersonal systems of violence that harm, exploit, destroy and shame Black women and femmes. Our narratives require us to navigate ho-ism, wifeyism and scamming for the sake of our own survival — and often for the survival for everyone we provide support to.
Ashleigh Shackelford is a Black queer, nonbinary fat femme writer, artist, and cultural producer. Ashleigh is a contributing writer at Wear Your Voice Magazine and For Harriet. Read more at BlackFatFemme.com. Support my emotional and intellectual labor by donating to: PayPal.me/AshleightheLion.