You may have heard that expression before. I came across it yesterday in a context where fifteen young men had decided to abide by "bros before hoes," though I have no idea what was driving the pact. Still, a closer look at the saying seems worthwhile, don't you think?
The statement is of course a slang form of "brothers before whores." I looked for early documented uses of it and found this:
Michael Scott: "Bros before hoes." Why? Because your bros are always there for you. They have got your back after your ho rips yours heart out for no good reason. And you are nothing but great to your ho, and you told her that she was the only ho for you, and that she was better than all the other hoes in the world... and then... and then suddenly she's not yo' ho' no mo'.It's pretty obvious from this that the reference to "brothers" is to male friends of a man and the reference to "whores" is to his girlfriend or wife. Or more succinctly:
Bros Before Hoes - A term used between male friends when one of them has become a whipped pussy ass bitch over a girl who in most cases is a tease.Interesting, no? My first reaction to the saying was a punch in my gut because I read it as a shorthand definition of misogyny in general: Men are brothers, women are sexual relief machines to be regarded with general contempt and certainly never to be included in the privileged circles of friendship.
But the term is really about something slightly different. Granted, it is full of misogyny of a fairly basic sort: A desire to define a woman by her sexual use, the normal misogynistic trick of picking opposite and extreme examples from each gender as pretend-representative. The latter turns all men into potential reliable friends, always there for you, and all women into unreliable sexual aids.
Still, the way the saying is used is in a specific context: A man has been let down by his female partner and he is ranting about that. The context could easily be reversed, by the way. Women who are let down by their male partners sometimes rant about men in general. These generalizations are sexist. But at least one can see that they come from hurt.
Here's where things get very nasty: I have seen (you can find examples in Google) "bros before hoes" listed as part of the masculine code of behavior in general, something that all (young) men should stick to when it comes to all (young) women.
That application IS the punch in the gut I wrote about above, a way to define women formally as "the other," as prey rather than as hunter, as never a sister. Except when it comes to the actual sisters of the "bros." They are "good" and not to be touched. The rest of women out there are, however, hoes. Note that the old madonna/whore distinction is well and alive in those circles.
Other versions of "bros before hoes" include "mates before muffs." I also spotted "misters before sisters," though that looks like a good candidate for a reversal ("sisters before misters"). An actual reversal is "chicks before d***s."
All these are astonishingly childish and cruel at the same time.