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Let’s get this out of the way right from the start: I’m talking about prostitutes, women of the night, whores. But that’s the point; prostitutes are people too, despite easy jokes that they’re dead inside. So let’s also talk about what they’re not: gardening implements.

And it’s high time we drew a line in the sand. Hoes and hoeing are gardening devices and activities while, for the sake of clarity at the very minimum, prostitutes should be labeled hos or pursuing a career hoing. It looks a little weird, like an underperforming hose or a shy host, but consider this: whore. No one in their life has ever correctly spelled it whoere, unless that’s another one of those bizarre British alternates that has yet to add a little colour to my understanding of the English language. Just like how bangers ‘n’ mash stands for sausage and potatoes, remove the whore letters and you have ‘ho’ at the very most—never a spud.

Which also brings us to the more earthly aspects of the subject. Things like trowels, rakes, and hoes are all gardening tools used explicitly to reshape or cultivate earth. It’s a human–earth interaction where the earth is prepared for fertilization or planting. The earth comes out on top (pun intended). Sex workers are people, not utilities or tools used to alter non-human objects. It’s supposedly the oldest career in existence and it has almost always taken place between two humans. From my understanding of the profession, fertilization has nearly nothing to do with its impetus.

I can’t pretend splitting the spelling in two won’t wreak havoc on our preconceived usage. For example, when Ice Cube literally spells it out “H-O-E” on “Who’s the Mack?” from his incredible AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, we’ll be undercutting a very important song that debates the idea of the pimp-and-flat-bladed-gardening-aid relationship in many aspects of our society. That’s something we’ll have to be willing to sacrifice. Dictionaries are built on catalogs of published examples of the correct usage. It’s why stupid things like LOL and irregardless have definitions, despite being considered improper words—they have a proven meaning that needs to be expressed for people who don’t understand.

So the next time you’re online and attempting to insinuate that the neighbors’ daughter dresses like she accepts money for illicit acts performed with one or many of her limbs, please call her a ho. If you say out loud that that same girl is dressed like a ho tonight, the homophone still applies, but you’re clearly not implying her boots are metallic and her posture is as wooden as her clothing. Did you spot a friend in a skimpy outfit downtown, leaning into car windows? Please announce on Twitter that you suspect that person is hoing. Or if you have to stage an intervention for a male friend that has been sleeping around in a manner reminiscent of a gigolo, please, don’t forget to call him a man ho, even though man whore rolls off the tongue much more effectively (pun not intended). You need your friends to know they’re not tools.

Most importantly, don’t let hookers do your yard work—they already have a job.


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