thotscholar: a working theory of proheaux (woman)ism [1] [revised 2019] w/blog commentary

Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash

Part One: Commentary

I wrote a similar piece, on Medium, that blew up unexpectedly, c. 2016. I didn’t anticipate anyone really reading or quoting it. I had written it off the top of my head. But suddenly, folks were citing my work and ascribing all kinds of things to it. I am a bisexual erotic laborer, writer, and scholar whose work has centered my lived experience and the scholarship of others. Though I do my best to understand and center other groups of people, understandably I will sometimes fail. I likely hold problematic views just like any other human in this world, yet I strive every day to evolve in my theory and practice and to be better today than I was yesterday. Because my online scholarship (and yes, I’m counting Twitter) is limited to my own experiences and focuses on very specific topics, it makes sense that I am rarely caught out of my element. I understand that bothers a great number of people. Trust and believe I am wrong about a lot of things offline and you needn’t worry that I’m perfect or pretending to be. The experiences that I’ve shared and the embarassments I’ve sometimes suffered, prove that I am nowhere near perfect, or claiming to be.

Recently another Black woman made an attempt to discredit my work by claiming that it “centers cishet men.” This woman is a young queer academic and has aspirations of publishing her own work and being cited similarly, so I can understand why she feels competitive and why it must seem like there is not enough room for more than one — academia is notoriously unfriendly to Black women. However, I believe that there is room for all of us and that there are other ways for our work to gain notice, and I do not measure my success in the same way that other people do: awards, lists, accolades. Though these things are nice, I measure myself by my own standards. I have never created work that centered anyone but myself and other multiply marginalized people. Sometimes that includes Black men. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Part Two: The Actual Point

proheauxism 1. Proheaux womanism. Derived from the more colloquial “pro-hoe.” (Spelling altered to reflect difference & refinement[2].) A sex worker womanist, feminist, or hustler-heaux committed to collective and personal justice, not just sexually, but through recognition of labor and physical security. Radically thotty[3], and proud of it. Curious about their sexuality, about birth and rebirth, about challenge and change, about redemption and reparations, about the physical and the emotional. Loves the river in all its incarnations. A pro-sex, pro-pleasure politic that is specifically centered on the multiply marginalized. Might be: marvelous. One who owns oneself and one’s own sexuality or gender expression, regardless of whether or not they are attached to a man or masculine person.

2. A womanist who rejects antiheaux sentiments as well as respectability, racial capitalism, and whore hierarchies. Rejects misogynoir and transmisogynoir — all forms of misogyny, period. Does not accept nor engage in active or passive transphobia, homophobia, colorism, xenophobia, classism, or anti Blackness. Doesn’t juxtapose the erotic and pornography, and recognizes that non-exploitative pleasure comes in varied forms, is not always sex-centered, and is paramount to the human experience. Against all forms of erasure and systemic oppression. Recognizes that solidarity is impossible without acknowledging difference and rejects the urge to homogenize experiences under the guise of inclusivity.

3. Rejection of the idea of one standard of femininity as determined by genitalia (transphobia/intersex erasure and denial). Ecowomanist-minded, in the sense that they are against the environmental racism that plagues black, and brown, and indigenous peoples across the globe due to industrialization, pollution, and redlining which locates hazardous materials in poor, Black, and brown neighborhoods. Committed to the safety of all marginalized peoples. A rejection of phallocentrism (dick-centrism), gender and biological essentialism, racism, cissexism, heterosexism, fatphobia, ageism, ableism, and speciesism — not only in the realm of sexual and pleasure politics, but in all realms. Cares for the environment as a whole, desires to correct the exploitation of all animals, and rejects the notion of human-animal superiority in favor of preserving the ecosystem as a whole. Committed to self, to community, to justice.

4. Commitment to decriminalization and destigmatization of erotic, “vice,” and informal labor. Not just pro-casual sex and pro-promiscuity, but pro-sex work(er). Not simply sex (choice) positive, but pragmatic and communal. Understands the complexities between empowerment and exploitation when residing in an oppressive or imperialist colonized state. Against all forms of racial and genital fetishism. Opposed to the co-option of prison abolitionist language by colonizers and anti-sex work activists. Eschews transgression for the sake of transgression — being “subversive” and securing the ability to “choose under the system” is not inherently revolutionary. Against sexual or body shaming of any kind. Commitment, autonomy, and agency, in particular regard to reproductive/sexual, mental and physical health, including but not limited to access to abortion, antiretroviral drugs, adequate child care, health insurance, and affordable housing. Always centers the multiply marginalized. Isn’t here for supporting multiculturalist white supremacy. Devoted to economic freedom, and critiquing and dismantling capitalism.

5. A hustler, a professional hoe, prostitute, erotic or informal laborer who is producing, living, and surviving sometimes via sexual, sexual-affective, or erotic means. A poor/working class innovator.

— — — — — —

[1] This was originally called “a working definition of proheaux womanism.” I wrote the original off the top of my head and published it on Medium, not thinking that anyone would ever read it. This is a revised version. I changed the title to “a working theory of proheaux womanism,” because I want it to be clear that I appropriated a definitional style and that it is not actually a “definition” in the traditional sense.

[2] Sometime in the mid 2000s or (most likely) even earlier, Black women began spelling words with an — eaux — a “Frenchified” suffix. By “refined” I mean: “precise or exact.” It is exactly “black” slang, though it has been widely appropriated by the masses. I also explored this in a 2018 Twitter thread:

[3] sexual

Photo by Jessica Felicio on Unsplash



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


writer, erotic laborer, chameleon byke, she/they ❤