Turning Hoes into Housewives

housewivesWatching the train wreck that is season two of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta is really starting to rub me the wrong way. Yes, the antics and absolute scripted dramas got me going for a hot second, not unlike the scandals and micro-dramas of other reality TV shows (typically in the vein of Project Runway, for example).

However, we must consider this: most of these “housewives” are not married. The last time I checked, a wife was a woman physically, spiritually, financially and legally joined to a man who has formally committed himself to her for the rest of his days. This is usually done before a body of witnesses and typically entails a ceremony.

That said, they may be lying up in the house, but they aren’t anyone’s wife.

On The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kandi Burruss, the singer of Xscape fame, is unmarried. Sheree Whitfield, whose only “success” came via the NFLer whom she recently divorced, is unmarried. And Kim Zolciak, the token white woman on the show, is linked to a sugar daddy mysteriously called “Big Poppa.”

NeNe Leakes is married to a brother-man a number of years her senior. And Lisa Wu Hartwell is married to an injured NFL player who hasn’t played for a few seasons.

This show reminds me of real life in many ways, no matter how far removed it is from any realm of reality known to most of us. For example, these days, baby mommas are conflated with common-law wives. Moreover, people who are engaged for umpteen years become placebos for the real thing. They call each other husband and wife playfully, like it’s cute. Then someone dies, someone leaves or otherwise exercises the options unavailable to married folks, and they cry wolf.

In fact, tattered and fractured relationships have so become the norm, that we have placed conventional labels on these incredibly conditional arrangements.

After all, like the rapper Common said, many black women can say that they’re mothers, but most can’t say that they’re wives.

If loose legs, broken promises, and unrequited obligations were really okay, would so many try to find a marital equivalent to describe their relationships?


K. Danielle Edwards

Republished with permission from The BlackCommentator.


  1. Denise Lynn Banks says

    I can’t say that I’ve watched the show, but I’ve made an observation and have a general question:

    Granted the term “Housewife” could be deemed a misnomer here,that is if one equates it with being married to a person. I, however equate it with being married to a home, which means caring for the home along with everything and everybody in it. My question is thus: Why do Black women who don’t fall apart when the man exits the picture have to be labeled as “Hoes”? Last time I checked a hoe was someone who was sexually loose, usually with no respect or concern for self, let alone anyone else. How does being a responsible unmarried woman with child(ren)make one a hoe? Would this mean that the unmarried man with child(ren) is also a hoe, or do will still use the more flattering, grandiose terms for men such as “player”, “philanderer”, “rolling stone”, “Don Juan”, “Valentino”, etc.? I just bumped into a former beau of mine who is Franco-Harris-drop-dead-gorgeous. Shortly after our encounter he proudly exclaimed to me that he has 10 children by 7 different women! Here I am a divorcee of 20 years with a 22-year-old and an 11-year-old, which I always have to explain. Yet no one even blinks about the father of my youngest having spawned his 2nd & 3rd child since her, and by 2 other women, even though he only cares for 1/3 of them (mine not included). Will the age of the double standard never cease?

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