And other words you shouldn’t call me…
You may have noticed the name of my blog and my frequent use of the word whore. A lot of people have wondered why I use that particular word and many have suggested that I shouldn’t. Some people have told me that in order to win more friends I should not use such strong language, others have told me that I shouldn’t put myself down like that, I should have more pride. I’ve also been told that it is such an evil word that we should rid it from our language, no woman is a whore.
I would just like to respond to those comments before I continue:
- I’m anonymous, I don’t need to compromise who I am here in order to make friends. This blog is not about conforming to appease people, it’s about sharing myself in order to offer a perspective on… being a whore.
- Thanks for your concern but I have so much whore pride its dangerous, have you read my blog? Does it look like I’m consumed in hooker shame? Whore isn’t my confession and I’m not asking for your forgiveness.
- And guess what? you’re wrong! some women (and others) are whores… Hi! Sorry, you can’t rid me from your language!
Whore is a word I am choosing to reclaim to describe the job I do and the stigma I face. The fact that it upsets so many people only reaffirms my desire to call myself a whore and watch the people squirm. Why does a sexually and/or financially independent or liberated or adventurous or nonconforming woman stress you out so much? Why is whore so much more offensive than say – wife or student or nurse and all of the stereotypes they imply. Who cares if I’m a whore! Whore whore whore whore whore!! I like the word slut for the same reason. As women these words control us in ways that are so ingrained in society and in our own psyche we barely recognise them. What are we so ashamed of? What are we scared of? Or who cares so much about the sex life of the person next to us? And what even is a slut or a whore? Just words often used as nasty insults rather than a descriptions of someones sex life or work life or both. Lets face it, how many people reading this have been called a whore or a slut, or called someone else a whore or a slut and it had absolutely nothing to do with sex or money? Anyone has the potential to be called a whore or a slut, these words serve to control us all by shaming some of us. The more we all run from these words, the more power they have. By reclaiming the word whore I feel like I am taking away its sting and its ability to hurt me and at the same time I am standing up to the whore hating slut shaming bullies. Standing up with woman kind, with slut kind and with whore kind, with human kind, standing tall and united.
When you call her a slut, you call me a slut, and we are all sluts… now what? Yes I am a whore, I have sex for money which makes me a whore.. so what?
Not only that, I think Whore is so powerful and strong and has an ancient and sacred context. Almost a modern day witch. I am a whore. Hear me roar!
That doesn’t mean all of us are ok with the word whore. Given that it is still used in very derogatory ways, and is considered an insult of the worst kind by most people in our society, you better be careful who you are calling a whore. Sex worker is the politically correct terminology. If you are referring to another sex worker you should use sex work and sex worker unless told otherwise.
Sex worker is the preferred language because it places sex work clearly as work. It doesn’t hold any connotations and it doesn’t make any judgements. It includes all of our community in all our diversity and shows respect to our stated wishes. Basically you should call us sex workers because we said so, and you don’t need a better reason than that.
You should not call us prostitutes. Well not without our permission. In Australia many sex workers find the ‘P’ word offensive. In everyday language prostitute has come to mean sell out or without morals and has nothing to do with the type of work we do. IE/ ‘he is now prostituting himself to corporate sector’. Even when describing our work prostitution is not always accurate. Prostitution generally refers to full sexual intercourse whereas many sex workers do not provide intercourse. I personally am not upset by the word prostitute, but if you are in the media or in politics and you use the P word despite having being asked not to thousands of times by sex workers and our representative organisations, then shame on you! You should know better! Sex worker is what you have been asked to call us, have some respect!
Other names I have been called include hooker, escort, masseuse, working girl, lady of the night, mattress actress, call girl, ho, street walker and many many many more.
They all hold their connotations and we all identify with and/or hate them differently. I personally do not identify as an escort because an escort visits the client in their hotel or home or whatever whereas I more often provide an inhouse service. I don’t mind being called a hooker, but if you’re using the word ho or whore you better use it with love. And that’s just me.
If you don’t know what language someone uses to describe themselves, use sex worker. If you’re speaking formally to or about sex workers, say sex worker. At parties and BBq’s, in the media and in online conversations, say sex worker. Inhouse sex workers, street based sex workers, escort/visiting sex workers, sex workers in strip clubs and in the porn industry, phone sex workers, male, female and gender diverse sex workers, young sex workers, migrant sex workers, private and independent sex workers, sex workers employed in brothels and agencies. Sex workers, sex workers, sex workers. You get the idea.
I know it might sound confusing, I can call myself a whore or whatever else I want but you have to call me a sex worker. If you think about it though, you will notice many marginalised groups are reclaiming and using language that was once used derogatorily against them, while at the same time asking people outside of their community use language that is neutral and respectful. You have no right to reclaim language on behalf of a marginalised community you don’t belong to unless you have been given permission. And even then, permission is usually only good for a specific circumstance or context and does not necessarily give you a free pass to say what you want when you want just because you once dated someone who didn’t mind being called a prostitute. If you are not a sex worker and you choose to use language that holds negative connotations to describe us or our work without any right to do so, you are being disrespectful. If you continue to use disrespectful language even after you have been asked not you, you are a bigot.
To put it another way,
I am a whore amongst whores, a sex worker in public and If you are lucky enough to meet me socially or get me behind closed doors… you can call me Jane.