What is a hure?
The first time I heard the word hure was in hushed tones when it was whispered in the playground and I was with my little friends. We would giggle and shy away because as far as we were concerned it was a rude word - something you don’t shout out for others to hear. God forbid your mother would ever hear you saying such a word, she would beat the living daylights out of you.
All this came back to me when I heard that these were the words of the First Lady Grace Mugabe addressing a political rally recently.
“Handisi hure raMugabe ramunoswera muchitaura. Mahure amakabhedha nanhasi amukubhedha mangwani? ” I’m not Mugabe’s prostitute that you continue to talk about. How about you? Can you count your prostitutes that you slept with that you continue to sleep with? To this very day the word hure makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know how to interact with it. However over the last couple of years I have heard it used more and more. On television (thanks to the Grace Mugabe), on social media, time and again, stories of someone being called a hure come up all the time and to be honest it baffles me.
The urban dictionary defines hure as associated with a whore, a slut. The Shona dictionary defines it as to offer, as a woman, to a lewd use; to give up to lewdness for hire. The dictionary is clear that the word is used only in relation to women and there is a form of payment involved. This is the original meaning of the word. However today it has evolved to mean different things.
The dictionary is clear that the euphemism of the word is prostitution, which some call the oldest profession in the world. From time immemorial prostitution existed and it will always be there but I have often wondered why only women are considered prostitutes.
To add to my confusion, social media has another term called ‘chihule hule” - this replaces the ‘r’ in the word with an ‘l’ for reasons I do not understand. However the phrase is often used to refer to a woman who has characteristics of or tendencies of a ‘hure’ but is not necessarily referred to as a hure. It’s confusing but in the social scene it seems to be very clear to most people when and how the words should be used.
In my society a woman who sells her body for sex is a hure, a woman dating a married man, knowingly or unknowingly is referred to as a hure. A woman with multiple sexual partners or who is believed to have these is referred to in the same vein, a single mother is often associated with chihure, a woman who is open about her sexuality and enjoys sex is referred to as a hure, a married woman having an affair with a man, married or single is a hure too, so is any woman that many people cannot place in a moral mould.
A woman must grow up with morals as defined by society the morals being that a woman does not sleep around and has to get married to that one man to be given her rightful place within society. It makes my society comfortable to place a woman in a mould when unsure.
In all this, I am still not sure whether this term is used for the good old prostitution profession or it’s just any woman that society deems not to be respectable or is not attached to a man. Funny enough for those women who come out and say I am a prostitute, (in the traditional use of the word) no one ever refers to their partners as hure as well. It always perplexes me, because to me it’s a supply and demand scenario. If there is no demand she cannot supply, so why are her customers exonerated from this moral judgement?
I then thought about it and realised that our notion of sex and sexuality is wrong all together. We still hold on to the view that sex is only the right and privilege of men. Therefore a woman is only there for the pleasure of the men, God forbid she actually enjoys it too. Therefore the custodian of all sexual morality lies with the woman, she must preserve herself because men cannot control their sexual appetite but women can. So she must be moral, pure and sensible when it comes to sex because let’s face it men can’t. So when two people have sex, a man is applauded with high fives and macho praise for his conquest, whilst a woman is shamed and told she is loose because she failed to control this one thing which is supposed to be protected by her - her virginity.
It is clear that patriarchy plays a key role in all this. Women do not own their sexuality as it belongs to men, first to your father then to your husband. This is why when a woman is pregnant no matter how old she is, and even if she knew exactly what she was doing, a man still has to pay damages to the father. The man responsible acknowledges damaging her and gives the father money as repayment for this. It does not matter if the woman knew exactly what she was doing and sometimes she could even have planned to get pregnant, he still has to pay the father. From the father, she is passed on to the husband who has full ownership of her.
No wonder many African men are outraged by the notion of marital rape, as they feel they have ownership over their wives and their sexuality. So he could be cheating on her with six women on the side but the moment the woman says she has a toy boy, he is outraged because his property has betrayed him.
Having pondered and explored this concept of a hure, I I have come to the conclusion that it is a word used at any convenience to refer to a woman whom society regards as immoral. It is only used in relation to a woman because she is the only one who can possess this quality. Until we come out of this bubble about our notion of sex and sexuality and how we view women as just objects for male pleasure, we will always call women we are uncomfortable with hure. A woman should be free to be who she is without the fear of society placing a tag on her of what they think she is!
Once a woman is labelled a hure, that tag never goes away. So when the First Lady came out and said I am not Mugabe’s prostitute she opened a can of worms. Marrying the man does not legitimise you as that tag never goes away. Social media went crazy as people started comparing the date of birth of their first child to the death of his first wife.
These are the facts; Year of birth 1990 Year of death 1992.
Does this give her the tag of a hure? You decide!