Women and Imus
A final email (promise):
I have been hearing a lot about the ho/whore aspect of Don Imus's language, but for me (white female) the worse phrase is 'nappy-headed'. Not that calling out someone's short curly hairdo is necessarily a problem an insult, but, from what I could see in their press conference, there aren't any 'nappy headed' women on the Rutgers basketball team. Don Imus used a generic (at best) stereotype to describe these athletes; he didn't even see them. Even if you could argue that with 'ho' he was making use of some variant of urban street culture, in using “nappy headed” he erased those women with their ponytails and their pageboys and their cornrows. I react viscerally to this, and I think other women do too.
There is some debate over the meaning of the word "nappy." I believed it meant unkempt with specific reference to African-American hair. Others have said it means kinky or curly in the same way. But the two categories overlap, of course. Sexism and racism do as well.