Being referred to as a ho has long been considered an insult to any woman and suggests that she is equivalent to a hooker, a slut or a whore. Nowadays, despite its negative connotation, the word "ho" has been assimilated into the vocabulary of many young women when referring to themselves while going through a phase in their lives during which they may have been particularly promiscuous. A large number of modern young women have coined the term "ho-phase" to refer to this period of time but, what exactly does that mean?
It is no secret that we all go through phases in life in order to find out who we are and to grow as individuals but, does everyone go through a ho-phase? Is it a bad thing if you do? Is it worse if you don't?
Defined by Urban Dictionary as
a period of time in one's life during which they become comfortable exploring promiscuous activities (not always ending in sex but sometimes leading to it) and connecting with random people,
this "ho-phase" is viewed as a time to establish likes and dislikes, to explore one's sexuality and to have fun in the dating world.
In this regard, finding your own sexual confidence to know and communicate your personal boundaries is an incredibly important part of having a healthy sex life. Experiencing a period of time that allows you to freely make these discoveries may benefit you down the road and it seems young adults, have figured this out.
Young men and women alike have begun accepting the occurrence of a ho phase as just another part of growing up. This shift in attitude among young adults, especially young women, to a more sexually open and experimental mindset, is reflected by current data on the sexual behavior trends among their age group.
According to a 2015 study, examining the trends and patterns of sexual behaviors among adolescents and adults in the United States, an average of 49.2% of women, aged 14-19 years, and 88.7% of those aged 20-24 years, reported that they had ever had vaginal, oral or anal sex in their lifetime. The results of the study also showed the percentage of women, who reported having had sex before, rose with age from 75% at the age of 18 to 95% at the age of 24.
The authors state that the results of the study are,
"Consistent across different US national surveys of adolescent sexual behavior is that almost half of teenagers are sexually experienced and a substantial proportion have at least 3 partners in their lifetime or multiple partners in the past year," (Liu et al., 2019).
A statement speaking to the shift in attitude among this age group, especially young women, regarding the norms that surround sexual activity. Comparison with previously recorded historical trends of sexual behaviors among adolescents and young adults in examining the modern population of the same age, analysis of the past and current trends have demonstrated intriguing results.
Results that indicate an increasingly accepting attitude among young women especially and, more specifically, those between the ages of 14 and 24 years, toward sexual activity.
As a 21-year-old woman myself, I can speak to the existence of the ho phase as well as my own experience.
After losing my virginity at the age of 18 and then suffering the experience of rape in the same year, I was desperate to feel in control of my own body again.
The decision to engage in the act of sex was no longer a decision I had the power to make but, rather, my own choice to participate or NOT in, what is supposed to be, a mutual act was stolen.
My decision to consent was made by someone else and all I could feel was out of control.
Which is what led me to the ho phase, during which I was admittedly promiscuous, flirtatious and a bit of a wild child. This part of my life, however, was healing for me. It was a time for me to take back control of my body, of who could have sex with me, of my sexual identity and my sexual confidence.
This phase allowed me to gain a deeply secured sexual ownership that gave me a powerful voice and I used that voice to say, "No," or, when I wanted, to say, "Yes," and slowly, I began to feel my deciding power return and I was empowered as a woman.
My time in the ho phase allowed me to discover my sexual identity and gave me the confidence to require of my partners: absolute consent, respect of the boundaries I put in place, and the power to refuse excepting anything less.
This is not to say that everyone has to go through a ho phase to discover these parts of themselves but, there is nothing wrong with a little exploration and experience, as long as it is being done safely (using protection against pregnancy as well as STDs) and occurs between two consenting adults.