Let That Hoe, Hoe: The Downfall of Slut-shaming & the Power of Reclamation

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The slur “hoe” amuses me. It’s so subjective, so gendered, so unnecessary, and so intrusive. Subjective because no one can ever agree on what makes a woman a “hoe.” You ask a group of people what a “hoe” is, you’re gonna get 10 different answers. “Oh, it’s a girl who’s had sex with more than one person.” “A woman who dresses skanky.” “A chick who gets trains ran on her.” The list goes on and on.

So gendered because, well, as you can see in my examples above, if you ask someone what a “hoe” is, most of the time the beginning of their statement is “a woman that…” or “a girl that…” It’s usually never gender neutral and it’s not something that typically used against men. People will say, “Oh men can be hoes too” when you point out the sexist double standard of how men don’t get shamed for having a lot of sex but women do but that’s simply not true. Men are not seriously shamed for being sexually active. I have never seen a man be reduced down to his sex life. I’ve never seen a man told that he needs to have “self-respect” when he openly expresses his sexuality or shows off his body. The only time I will see men be shamed for their sexuality is if they are not heterosexual. The only time. Other than that, cishet men are free to have as much sex as they want with whoever they want without having judgement passed on them. The slur “hoe” is traditionally geared towards women. Period.

The term “hoe” is so unnecessary and so intrusive because a woman’s worth shouldn’t be based on how many people she’s had sex with. It shouldn’t be based on how she dresses or what lifestyle she lives. Every woman is deserving of respect because they are human. A woman does not have to be “modest” in order for you to respect her. Men surely don’t have to be “modest” to get respect out of people. Inherent respect is a privilege that men have.

It’s just astonishing to me how complete strangers feel entitled enough to tell a grown ass woman what she can and can’t do with her body. How does a woman’s sex life affect you especially when you’re not the one she’s having sex with? Even then, the only factor you’re entitled to know is her sex health that directly affects you–not the number of her past sexual partners.

People treat sexually active and sexually expressive women like they treat murderers. It’s amazing to me. A woman will be metaphorically socially stoned to death because of her sex life. That in itself shows how conditional respect is for women. People will completely disrespect a woman because she’s not “modest.” People never stop and think how shallow it is: you’re dehumanizing a woman because of her sex life? Not because she’s actually hurt you, harm you, disrespected you as a person but because she’s had more sex than you’d like for a woman to have and she shows off her body? That makes complete sense to you? Sure Jan.

If a man is sexually active, people still see him as a person. They’ll still see him as a multi-faceted person: a person with hopes, fears, dreams, and wants. That dynamic is not afforded to women. Women can only be one or the other. Women can either be smart OR sexual. We can’t ever be both. Apparently, according to society, women being multi-faceted people is not possible. If a woman isn’t “modest” people will completely reduce her entirety to just that. People will ignore her entire humanity–will erase the fact that this girl too has hopes and dreams and other interests like sexually active/expressive men. People will reduce a woman to her sex life if it’s too much for them. They won’t seriously do that to a man though.

At one point in time someone’s gotta ask: what exactly is the point of slut shaming women? What is the end goal? Does it make society better as a whole? Does it get us any further as a people?

I vote no.

Calling a girl a “hoe” or other misogynist slurs such as “skank”, “slut”, and “whore” are just ways to police women’s sexual and anatomical agency. It’s all about control. Literally. It’s about denying women the right to their own bodies. It’s denying women of choice. The catch is, as long as you follow these patriarchal “rules” and don’t step out of line, you won’t be called a “hoe.” As long as men have complete control over your agency, you’re not a “hoe.”

For example: If a woman leaks her own nudes, she’s shunned to all hell. She’s called all sorts of “hoe” but… If a man leaked her nudes, she gets heart eyes and “omg she’s bae.” Now, I’m not denying that there will still be people who call her a hoe for simply sending the nudes in the first place but that doesn’t deny the distinct difference between the overall responses between a woman posting her own nudes and a man leaking them.

Another example: If a girl talks about sex outside of when a guy finds it appropriate–when she’s not talking about having sex with him–she’s called a hoe. Anytime a woman decides to express her sexuality on her own terms, she becomes a “hoe” in the eyes of misogynistic men AND women. Misogynistic people in general.

Great so slut shaming is a means to control a woman’s sexuality essentially. It keeps women in their “place.” That’s the benefit if you’re a misogynist but let’s look at the bigger picture. It does more damage than “good.”

When you slut shame women, you’re denying a woman agency over her body and sexuality. That’s intrusive and well.. it’s fucked up. Slut shaming has such an impact on women that so many women suppress their sexual desires. So many women suppress what they really want sexually in fear that they’ll be called a hoe. Hell, it even carries onto Twitter. Whenever I tweet something rather sexual (because I don’t give a fuck about being called a hoe), most women will “favorite” it and not “retweet” it. I get it though. They don’t want to “out” themselves as being a sexual human because essentially–women aren’t allowed to be sexual beings. Women are shamed for that. I get it. It saddens me but I get it.

This also plays a part into why women slut shame each other. Most of the time women slut shame for male approval and because they’re honestly just jealous of the girl. “Ugh, she’s getting as much sex as she wants, showing off her body how I’d like to but she doesn’t give a fuck about being called a hoe. Fuck that bitch.” That’s honestly how a lot of girls think if they realize it or not. I’ve literally seen a girl say she hated hoes because “hoes get a lot of dick and don’t care about being judged.” I’m not even making this up.

Women are so afraid of being slut shamed, that a good number of women aren’t even honest with their very own doctor in regards to their sexual activities. That’s harmful because she may be withholding information that will put her health at risk. Slut shaming is terrifying for a lot of women because like I said, a woman who is sexually active is treated as if she’s murdered someone.

Slut shaming also sends women into depression and has even led some young women to committing suicide. To constantly being ridiculed and made to feel inferior because of their sex life takes a toll on women. Some assholes will say “well maybe you should just stop being a hoe.” I have a better response: Maybe people should stop shaming a woman for the choices she makes regarding her body.

[TW: sexual assault]

Slut shaming also contributes to rape culture–the rape culture that people LOVE to deny exists. Slut shaming is used to blame the victim and/or to discredit the victim. “Well, maybe if you wasn’t dressed like a hoe–” Comments that I’ve actually heard from people to survivors of sexual assault. Wow, you feel that strongly about a woman not being dressed from head to toe that you find that it’s completely acceptable for her to be sexually violated? Lack of clothes bother you THAT much? Wow. Then there’s also the simple fact that sexual predators are not deterred by what a woman is wearing. Sexual predators don’t go “Eh, nah, she’s got way too many clothes on.” No. It’s about power. That is what rape is about. Women are sexually assaulted when they’re fully clothed everyday.

Or I’ve heard people say, “Ain’t no way she get raped. She a hoe.” Basically saying that because she’s agreed to sex plenty of times before, there’s no way, that this time, she didn’t agree to having sex. This mentality is so toxic. It works to discredit a survivor and the trauma they experienced. Just because consent was granted once, doesn’t mean that consent is granted for the following times. Just because a woman chooses to be sexually active, doesn’t mean she has the human right to choose in every situation. Women who have a lot of sex can still be sexually violated. Consent is afforded to everyone. It’s a human right and requirement.

Slut shaming also, frankly, just makes everything more difficult. It’s funny to me how men will say that women shouldn’t be “easy” but then complain when women make it “hard” for them to have sex with them. It’s funny to me how men will shame a woman for being remotely sexual and then wonder why a woman makes him wait a decade before she lets him have sex with her. Ya’ll made up all these “rules.” Don’t cry when they’re being followed.

Then on top of that, men contradict themselves a lot when it comes to this: You want a girl with a “body count” of -1 but you want her to be able to have sex like a porn star. A girl who catches feelings after having sex with you is annoying but if a girl doesn’t catch feelings she’s a hoe. You get mad at girls for lying about “sucking dick” but then shame a girl when she says she sucks dick. You beg a girl for nudes but then call her a hoe and leak them when she sends them to you (therefore making other girls distrust you even more). You ask women why can’t ya’ll just have casual sex and then shame women when they do have casual sex—which is why a good number of women will turn you down when you ask for casual sex. Women can’t have casual sex but men are allowed to have as much casual sex as they want? Who are men having sex with then?

See what I mean? Slut shaming literally makes the process so much more difficult. You could just be having sex with women, while still respecting them, and we’d all just be chilling as a people with all our sexual needs satisfied. It could really just be all that simple but no, you want to tell women they can’t be sexual beings while also asking women to be sexual beings *sigh*. Why must it be that complicated? Why must you shame women for doing what you ask them to do? It literally makes no sense. The less you shame women, the more open and honest women will be about their sexuality. You should also just stop shaming women for our sexuality because we’re fucking human and a woman wanting to have sex or wanting to show off her body should not warrant her being totally disrespected. How shallow can you be to think that that’s a valid reason to deny a woman common human decency?

So as you can see, there are many faults to this slut shaming business ya’ll got going on here. It does so much damage for no reason. It’s all so shallow and the epitome of misogyny. It’s time that we put the slut shaming to rest. Pack it away and don’t unpack it ever again. Let. Women. Live.

Although, I do find it riveting how so many more women are taking back slut shaming slurs such as “hoe.” I’ve been seeing more women refer to themselves as a hoe. Although most will cringe at that, what these women are doing are reclaiming slurs. They’re taking the slur that was used against them and making it for them. It’s taking power away from the word. It’s the epitome of reclamation. The same idea behind why black people call each other “nigga.” I’ve noticed that more people don’t know what to do with themselves because more women will now shrug when called a “hoe” because that’s how powerful reclamation is. “Oh no, they don’t care about being called hoes now? How will we control their sexuality now guys?”

All in all, seriously shaming a woman for her sex life is not the move. It damages and harms women in so many ways. It needs to be put to rest. Today.

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