In high school, people thought I was a ho. And not just a regular ho. A major ho. I'm talking about Supahead, Celina Powell, Meredith from "The Office," "New Supreme" level of ho. People thought I was handing out my giblets like Ellen hands out scholarships — and the whole thing was comical (I mean, it's comical now, not so much at the time when I would come home crying from school), considering I was one of the least sexually active girls at that school.
(Truth be told, it was always the quiet ones that did the most dirt, but I'll save that tea for another day.)
The worst part about the whole ordeal was that I earned that reputation based off of wardrobe choices and lies from prepubescent boys who failed all of their language arts classes, but were grand storytellers when it came to their made up sexual escapades. Perhaps if my jeans weren't so tight and my shirts so cropped, people would've believed me when I denied all the rumors, and instead have realized that the geeky (but somehow still popular) video production assistant was the one sampling sausage at any and every party while her friends watched.
I hope no one from my high school reads this...
OK, OK. Sorry, I'm being petty. I say all of this because the topic of sexual freedom and expression has been on my mind heavily lately. During my freshman year of high school, when all of these rumors were swirling, it wasn't as accepted and celebrated to be what many people deem a "ho." While I view a ho or slut as someone (male and female because I'm not into double standards) who has absolutely zero standards when it comes to who they have sex with, many others perceive them as someone who just looks the part. Women's bodies were and are still being policed, and your value and level of respect for yourself are commonly discerned by what you wear.
It's pretty stupid, especially when you think about how dangerous the consequences can be (I mean, it's the same stupid logic that ignorant people use to suggest that a Black man looks "suspicious" because he's wearing a hoodie).
While my life was a living hell back then, now it seems like it's trendy to wear revealing clothing and even admit that you're a ho. Literally, women are calling themselves thots and hoes and they think it's cute or funny.
Terms like "dick appointment" are now common phrases, memes have emerged left and right about the daily struggles of being a ho (I'm so serious, look it up), while celebrities like Cardi B and Cupcakke can't go a second without mentioning how much sex they have. Ho-ing is even a source of comedy now.
WTF is this and WHY??
It was always cool and edgy for female entertainers to be sexy and promiscuous, but now it's cool and edgy for common folk to be, too. Of course, slut-shaming still exists and women are meant to feel as though their worth is defined by how many sexual partners they have, but the casual and nonchalant attitude in which we view sex, our bodies, and intimacy has definitely increased within the past few years. I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.
I want people, especially women, to be able to express themselves however they want. If you love your body and like showing it off, you should be able to do that. Lord knows I used to only own crop tops (but now I can't stand them, ironically). Talking about sex should be allowed, it should feel normal, but I fear that we're going from a sex-positive society to a hyper-sexualized society.
When I was growing up, my role models were all Disney Channel stars: Raven Symone, Hilary Duff, and Selena Gomez (but now I can't stand her, ironically). I was exposed to a few raunchy celebrities, like Lil Kim (and even Miley Cyrus during her "I want to rebel because I hated being on Disney for so long" phase), but for the most part, I don't remember having sex and promiscuity shoved down my throat. Hell, all the Disney stars wore purity rings.
Now, I'm afraid that the only role models little girls have are self-proclaimed hoes. Perhaps I'm out of touch because I'm not young anymore and there are some good role models left, but when I see 5-year-olds singing along to rap songs and twerking, I can't help but cringe. There isn't anything wrong with being promiscuous as long as you're protecting yourself, but I am concerned that young, impressionable girls are only being exposed to one way of expressing your sexuality.
Truthfully, I think society believes there is only one way to express your sexuality: openly and brazenly. When a young girl sees their older sisters, their favorite pop stars, hell — even their mom sometimes — acting and dressing a certain way in order to express their femininity and sexuality, they start to believe that that's how they should carry themselves as women, instead of the multiple other ways you can carry yourself as a woman.
The standards for women then become skewed and sexual expression becomes sexual pressure. What about the young women that feel sexy with more clothes on? Our society is so sex-driven and obsessed with "sexual freedom" that covering yourself is seen as oppression (look at how many feminists treat Muslim women who wear hijabs or niqabs).
What about women who view sex as a spiritual and emotional experience, rather than something that is purely physical and a fun pastime? They feel left out, they feel weird. They wonder if something is wrong with them. Why is it that so many other women can hop from situationship to situationship with little to no effect on their emotional and mental health? I don't want young girls — and even young boys, hyper-masculinity and hyper-sexualization is rampant in male communities — to become indoctrinated.
We are replacing the narrative that women should be prim, proper, and pure with the narrative that we should be promiscuous, potty-mouthed, and polyamorous. The problem with the way our society views sex is that we can never have a balance. There always needs to be an extreme at any given moment. I just want both types of expression, modesty and brazenness, to be celebrated and accepted.
Now mind you, I'm not here to judge women and men or make baseless claims about how people should carry and conduct themselves. I'm only here to encourage people to feel comfortable. I'm here to ensure that people aren't ruined by toxic mindsets and false narratives. I used to be that girl who wore short-shorts (and still do on $2 Tuesdays), so I'm not about preaching purity or prudishness. I'm just sick of only one type of woman being glorified and seen as "the standard." I want young girls to feel just as cool and in-touch with the times when they're wearing turtlenecks and being celibate, as they would if they were wearing crotchless panties and scheduling "dick appointments."
As women, we should feel cool all the time because we're pretty bad-ass. We don't need to be validated by our bodies or by sexual attention.
Oh, and one last thing: please, women, stop calling yourselves and each other bitches and hoes.