Sex & Dating

Calling Me a Whore Isn't an Insult, Here's Why

This is a safe space for all women.

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3,175 Hypes

Calling Me a Whore Isn't an Insult, Here's Why

This is a safe space for all women.

Recently, sex-positive journalist Caroline Reilly was heckled by trolls after tweeting about how abortion restrictions were introduced simply as an attempt to control people’s right to choose. She was retweeted by conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro, and thousands of trolls called her every name from a “slut” to a “whore.” Reilly’s rebuttal? She said that calling her a slut isn’t an insult. And I couldn’t agree more.

But before we go deeper into this topic, I know that being introduced to a new idea can be anxiety-inducing. I understand that sticking to your usual perspective comes with comfort, but it’s always great to expand your mindset. So, here’s your friendly reminder to be open-minded. And if that is not possible, here’s your moment to respectfully leave the chat.

The origin of “whore”

So, let’s get into “whores,” “sluts” and “hoes.” These terms are originally rooted in systems of — you guessed it — patriarchy, misogyny and sex-negativity. A world where historically, men view women as objects and their actions determine whether she’s “wifey material” or nothing more than someone you “smash” when the time is convenient. If she has too many former lovers, her “price” decreases and it makes her undesirable. Any doubts? Might I remind you that the judgemental word “harlot” dates as far back as the 1800s and is defined by Oxford’s English dictionaries as “a woman who has many casual sexual encounters or relationships.” Even in 2022, when a woman shares her perspective on a woman’s right to choose, she’s met with judgment from men who childishly refer to her as the “town bicycle.”

Our society knows how to weaponize sexuality and make someone feel ashamed for it. Reilly said it best: “Conservatives know how to weaponize sex, which I saw firsthand when the best ‘insult’ Shapiro’s followers could come up with was to call me a slut. They know how to use the moralization of sex to make their point.” Odd, because the last time I checked, sex was an act of procreation, connection and enjoyment.

Internalized whorephobia

I don’t write this to shame anyone. In fact, my goal is the complete opposite. Growing up within conservative Christianity and old-school Caribbean ideals, anything sex-related was extreme taboo. So naturally, I grew an aversion towards women who owned their sexuality. That doesn’t make it okay. I’m just acknowledging that most of us come from sex-negative backgrounds, and don’t realize it until we hurt someone or ourselves.

I went through my own journey that taught me that lesson. I had just changed the name of my solo sex podcast from a self-titled name to HEALING HOE RADIO. The premise of my show was to host conversations around my growing sexuality, the freedom I was creating for myself, heal and find community. It did exactly what I wanted it to. It got people talking about sexuality in ways that I never experienced as the daughter of a Reverend. Eventually, my brand’s impact expanded into a Youtube channel, erotic art gallery and sex work. I quickly grew great clientele with authentic people who didn’t have access to sex-positivity in real life. I received such good feedback that I genuinely forgot people would try to weaponize my sexuality — until Christmas morning two years ago.

Being “outed”

On Christmas morning of 2020, as if I hadn’t experienced enough with an entire pandemic, a loved one of mine shared that one of my elders found my sex work through Instagram. My younger family members had already known and passed judgement, but that was easy to ignore. My elders, though? That’s different story.

I was wondering why my uncle slyly made remarks about “not giving my body up to the world,” at the dinner table the night before. I was being shamed in my own family’s home, a supposed safe space.

What stood out about the situation was their initial reaction to a new perspective. They didn’t aim to understand why I live a sex-positive lifestyle. Instead, they spoke about me in secret and in public, and tried to embarrass me. The healing journey and four years of sex-positive work I’d done to build a community were null and void, all because I publicly embraced my sexuality and lived authentically.

A final word from a proud whore

Exercising your freedom of speech to judge me is not the flex you think it is. It’s actually a sign of immaturity and close-mindedness. What’s important is I’m sharing quality sex education and hosting conversations around pleasure and sexual wellness, advocating for sex workers and for a woman’s right to choose, and giving women of color some form of sex-positive representation so they don’t have to live in shame. But even if I simply was a whore for the sake of enjoying sex, that is more than okay too.

By shaming sex-positive women, you’re completely missing the mark. That’s why women like myself and Reilly don’t take offense. We simply dedicate our time to educating others. If my authenticity offends you to the point where you feel the need to judge, so be it. If advocating for a woman’s right to choose offends you, so be it. But others’ opinion of how I approach sexuality is not my burden to bear.

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