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Whore Next Door: Expand Your Ho-Cabulary 

Wednesday, Jul 6 2016
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Slut. Whore. Ho.

I remember going to my first Golden State Warriors game back in 2009 with my girlfriend at the time. Before we could even make it to halftime, she grabbed my phone from me in a jealous rage, scrolled through my text messages, and, upon finding an exchange that she found upsetting, called me a ho and stormed out of the arena.

I wept hot tears on the entire BART ride back to the city.

She had flung the word at me knowing it would hurt, and with it came the harsh slap of generations of shame.

English has plenty of words for women who transgress, and those words serve as linguistic boogeymen that can feel like they have the power to suck all the goodness, life, and beauty out of you if you're caught at a vulnerable moment.

Many of us grow up with the understanding that sex is a taboo subject, and the words we use to talk about it are bad or dirty, just like the act itself.

"Bad words," especially about sex work and the people who did it, once held so much negative power over me. But once sex became part of my professional life, that anxiety softened.

Years later, I've finally realized that the power of those words can actually be harnessed and even reclaimed. I have embraced that once-terrifying slur with open arms and made it my home.

Loving my linguistic identity has become like a little bit of kryptonite. Never again will someone be able to fling those slurs at me and have them sting. But at the same time, it doesn't feel like there are enough words in the English language that fully describe my experience as a sex worker, so I've found myself and my community creating new ones. Here are a few that I encourage you to adopt into your lexicon. In doing so, know that you'll be doing your part to help destroy sex worker stigma forever:

1. Whore-archy

This word refers to the nasty hierarchy that women and sex workers have inherited from patriarchy, racism, and classism — the trifecta of why we can't have nice things — and dictates which type of behaviors and identities are acceptable and which are not.

This manifests itself in legislation as well as in social settings: Why are some types of legal sex work — like porn — while other types of sex work — such as prostitution — are criminalized? It's all sex for money, right? The short answer: Whore-archy.

2. Ho-mance

The antidote to whore-archy, homance is oysters, Champagne, and lipstick all over your faces — a sex worker falling in love with another sex worker is straight-up magic, and sharing the secret, sacred work with a compatriot feels like a revolution.

Homance is spooning quietly in a hotel room after a long night of appointments, ordering room service, and understanding without any words why sex is off the table.

Homance is rolling around in piles of money and twerking to Nicki Minaj after an epic night at the strip club, or giving your co-star a close-up pussy check for tiny pearls of toilet paper that may be clinging to her labia before the camera starts rolling.

I've been in love plenty of times, but the loves I've found with my fellow sex workers is a special kind of love that needs its own name.

3. Whore-ientation

Wizards may be skilled in a variety of magical arts, but they usually have one that they are particularly astute at — something I've found to be true of sex workers, too. I've tried as many different types of sex work as I've had the opportunity to — I'm a jack-off of all trades — but it's on a porn set that I really come to life. I love porn because it feels so much like theater. Off camera, I get to be goofy and silly with my co-stars, and the camaraderie we cultivate (i.e., homance, see above) isn't that dissimilar than the backstage antics I cherished as a young theater nerd. The rush of applause and the warmth of the footlights isn't so different from the satisfaction achieved from a perfect money shot.

Words have power. Perhaps once we stop believing that these words are bad, then we'll understand that the people and acts they refer to aren't bad either.

About The Author

Siouxsie Q

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