We are often asked if we might change the name of our little feminist initative — ‘zine, blog, and related live events — to something less inflammatory. “Hoochie,” we are told, smacks of the derogatory. “You can’t represent feminism with such an anti-woman name.”
Anti-woman? This is always a surprise, our founders took the title out of a fishing lure catalog, and didn’t have anything anti-woman in mind. Not wanting to be oblivious, however, we of the current writing and editing crew decided to look up the word in the dictionary.
Hoochie: a hut or lean-to. According to the OED, the word was used in the WWII-era armed services to refer to a temporary shelter or dwelling, especially one that is rattle-trap, insubstantial. Etymologists suppose the word comes from Japanese, in which language “uchi” means “dwelling.”
Huts aren’t anti-woman, though they have played a part in certain anti-woman cultural traditions. We kept looking, and there it was, lodged as entry 2 under the head-word. (Note to selves: contact the OED staff, ask why the feminine term is relegated to second class status.)
Hoochie, or more fully, hoochie mama: a young woman; especially one who is promiscuous or who dresses or behaves in a sexually provocative or overtly seductive manner. Example, from non-feminist rapper Big Daddy Kane: “‘Specially if the hoochie’s on birth control.”
The origin of the word is unclear, though it seems to be related to hoochie-koochie, a term in recorded use since at least 1890 to refer to a kind of erotic dance. Example: “They expected a theatre man to be brassy and leering, like a sideshow barker at a hoochie-koochie tent.” According to the Urban Dictionary, “Couchie is adapted from the French word coucher for “to go to bed” (like our word “couch”, which you can lie down on) … women who danced suggestively were ‘hootchie coutchie’ dancers … These women were not considered morally upright in the general public, so calling a woman a hootchie cooch was calling her a tramp, especially if she dressed in a way that is meant to be provocative.” (Yes, that’s the same French coucher as in the song that so audaciously portrays a woman intiating an intimate encounter. The daring! The nerve!)
Really, now. Voulez-vous get something better to do than accuse us of woman-hating, when obviously we’ve got the best intentions in appropriating and rehabilitating (a great word — meaning, to dress in new clothes!) a term of anti-woman sentiment? We like the long “o” sound, we like the tschuss-tschuss, we think highly of our diminutive and easy-to-rhyme-with -ie ending, and are pretty happy all around being called Hoochies.
But perhaps we’ll consider going in a more risque direction, since that seems to be what our readers want…
With these numbers, how could Boobie Magazine fail to be a hit? Plus, we can guess, we’d attract attention from just the sort of people who might benefit from a challenging feminist perspective.