How To Talk To A Slut You Just Met, Know, And/Or Love

No matter how far I think we’ve come with sex positive feminisms, I am still baffled by the judgments and unsolicited opinions of individuals and hive minds alike when it comes to non-normative sexualities. I know some of these judgments are misunderstandings that come from personal insecurity and legitimate worry, but I have to say, after nearly a decade, I’m fucking sick of hearing it. Even in recent weeks I’ve been in social situations where I have to listen to someone talk condescendingly about how a woman they sort of know “sleeps around a lot and is probably a cesspool of disease,” or how “sad it is” that someone is in an open relationship, or hear jokes about strippers and sex workers (though they like the words ‘prostitute’ or ‘hooker’ which I hate). In a conversation about a mutual acquaintance, a couple refused to refer to her by name but instead kept saying “the stripper.” And in regards to people they’re even friends with: “she has no self esteem,” “she’s going to end up in a dumpster someday.” There’s even the incredible amount of shame *still* surrounding internet dating: “this is too embarrassing, I’m ashamed of myself for even being on this, what if someone I know sees me?”

“You’re too pretty for that.”

It seems it’s impossible for some people to discuss these issues without being condescending, hurtful and just downright misogynist.

If I’m around any group of people talking openly and crudely as us folks like to do, at least one person will make the incorrect assumption that there are no freaks around — like it’s safe to talk shit because no one here appears to be wearing 6 inch stilettos or is currently in the midst of a three-way. In just a single social setting I more often than not will have my lifestyle talked about, joked about and fully condemned. Though I’ve never been in an open relationship, I’m totally open to non-monogamy and its nuanced forms, I do have quite an impressive history of promiscuity and all sorts of group and kinky sex, plus I’ve been a sex worker since I was 24 (with a prior 3 years of fetish modeling, which is like sex work except you get paid nothing for your time or body and have to deal with shitty GWCs). Basically, unbeknownst to the amateur comedian in question, I am the (well-ridden) butt of every one of these jokes, since it’s awkward and exhausting to constantly have to say, “well, I’m a stripper, do you think I’m stupid with no self esteem?” “well, I guess I’ve technically been a prostitute before, do you think I’m human trash?” “well, I’m into kink and S&M do you think I’m gross and emotionally unstable?” “well, I’ve sent hundreds of nude photos of myself not to mention all those I’ve posted publicly online, do you think I have no future?” “well, I’ve gone to sex parties, do you think I’m ugly and desperate?” “well, I spent about 7 years on OkCupid/Fetlife then Tinder, do you think I’m pathetic too?”

It reminds me of being a little girl and responding to dumb blonde jokes by trying to prove that I’m not “like other girls” even though I fit the profile — and how fucked up it is to never escape being a joke but rather, to fight to be the better version of the girl in the joke?

It’s exhausting. Before I begin, I made this handy (extremely fancy) chart so if you get confused at any time reading this or if you think maybe your situation is unique and that your opinions are justified you can refer to this chart to help you decide.

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So, if you want to be a better friend and ally to sluts, and a true sex positive feminist, here are a few pointers for the next time you have a conversation like this.

“You’re a sex worker??????”

Oh shit, you are talking to someone who gets paid to do things like take their clothes off, fuck like a pro, piss and shit in people’s mouths, or maybe they’re employed as a social companion. Here’s some things you might be tempted to ask but DO NOT: ask, “are you a prostitute?” This is rude on two counts, for one we assume you think lowly of escorts and two, that’s private information that your friend or person you literally just met but are still actually asking this question may not feel comfortable answering. And please don’t say prostitute. “Is it safe?” asking questions about safety might seem like the right thing to do because whether you genuinely care or you want to appear as if you care, it implies that your friend is an idiot about life and forgot about safety/never heard stories also about sex workers being murdered since the dawn of Christian history. This is a good time to refer to the chart if you think your friend is not capable of planning her own safety. It’s also offensive because it’s an assumption that you know more about sex work (having never done it) than your friend, who is a professional. If you truly think this person is lil miss naivety you could say “Have you checked out the Sex Workers Outreach Project?” if no, “they have all kinds of resources on there like how to file taxes, get legal help, anonymous hotlines and even safety guides for beginners.” I’ve even had people reach out to me when a friend wants to get into fetish, escort work or “sugar daddy” related business, which is another nicer way to check in: Refer A Whore.

Furthermore, do not offer this person help finding another job, ask her why she’s doing it, how much she gets paid, etc etc. Especially do not ask her what her boyfriend/husband/partner thinks. The capital of all insults to professional women: forget how you feel, let’s put a man’s ego first. If this is your friend, are you really going to insult her in saying either that she is a bad partner by not considering her partner’s feelings or insult her by caring more about her partner than her agency? Nah.

Instead, show support for your friend’s career choice. Pretend like she just told you she got a new job as an accountant, or a scientist, or whatever it is normal people do, and ask the normal questions you would ask ANYONE else with ANY other job, “do you like it so far?” “is it fun?” “are you learning a lot?” “got any good stories so far?” “do you like your coworkers?” “can you teach me how to twerk?” After “retiring” as a professional dominatrix, I started stripping for the first time and lucky for me I have a lot of really nice supportive friends who reacted with “that’s exciting!” “get that money!” and asked if they could come see me dance. Now THAT is how you treat a sex worker.

In short: treat your friend or this random stranger who is dying for you to take that shocked look off your face like any other person, because she has agency and a human heart too. She just makes a living in a different way, and let’s face it, most jobs are degrading. I’d rather get paid for my natural talents then make less than a living wage to help some corporation realize its world domination dreams, or let some dude suck my toes for an hour rather than push fashion items that were made in Cambodian sweatshops.

“You’re in an open relationship?????”

Ahhh, people react to this like it’s the lowest of the low, the most sickening level of romance and insult to coupling ever created, a threat to the precious heteronormative oppressive crap we all know and love. Even within the feminist discourse, it’s like, did you miss The Ethical Slut on the syllabus? And it’s always the man’s idea who suckers his insecure girlfriend into orgies with other women! It’s sick! He just wants to have his cake and eat it too! That sarcastic behind-the-back snark “Let me GUESS whose idea THAT was.” Well I don’t know about YOU but I’ve been in lots of relationships that were not open that I would consider to be pretty fucking low in the way I was treated and being “monogamous” never stopped anyone from sleeping around. So, what’s the big deal about just being open? I think people are so threatened by this because they personally couldn’t handle it which is totally okay! But, it’s not always about you.

Monogamous relationships are fucked up, open relationships are fucked up, and on the same note, monogamous relationships are harmonious and beautiful and so are open relationships — there’s so many ways in which we can hurt and love, it doesn’t really have to do with whether you are exclusive but more so in how things are with you and your partner personally. I could say I’ve known monstrous men who orchestrate open relationships only to collect women and take no responsibility for anyone’s feelings, but then again, I know monstrous men who are either monogamous or say they are monogamous who abuse their partners. I also know the flip side of both: I know great loving monogamous men and I know great loving men who are open/poly. I really don’t think this is an issue of non-monogamy, but of bad people.

No one relationship is like another, so why should there be specific rules on good and bad, other than things that are directly nonconsensual? Be open minded, if this person is your friend, don’t you trust and respect the decisions they make? (this might be a time to check that chart again!) It’s insulting to treat women like victims when they go against the normal expectations of dating and heteronormativity. How do you know it isn’t her fantasy to be in a f/f/m relationship? When your friend tells you she’s just started an open relationship either with a current partner or with someone she just met do NOT ask her: “are you okay with this?” (refer to the chart, girl) or “whose idea was it?” and no weird pitying, suspicious remarks. Instead, ask the fun questions you’d ask your friend who is freshly single and dating around, “do you have your eye on someone?” “got any fun stories?” “what are you looking for in a partner?” “what kind of new experiences are you looking to have?” And if you’re truly concerned, you can always ask, “are you happy?” It’s a much kinder, less condescending way to find out.

So treat your friend or acquaintance like a responsible adult who can make adult decisions. You wouldn’t bother a person in a monogamous relationship with all these concern troll questions about agency, manipulation and sexual exploitation but maybe sometimes you should.

“You’re fucking HOW MANY men???? Today????”

I’m going to back pedal for a moment. Dating is dangerous. There’s no contract, there’s no cut and dry exchange, there’s no rules set up between two consenting adults, there’s no scanning of IDs or background checks. Anything could happen. But, dare I say, sometimes that’s what’s fun and exciting about it? Sometimes the outcome of dating is getting hurt, sometimes badly, sometimes physically, sometimes you are actually in danger. How can you know a person’s intentions or how they really are? There’s no client database for dating, there’s no body guard to throw them out for inappropriate touching, and sometimes there aren’t friend referrals or social media backups. Sometimes you go in blind, sometimes you meet someone at a bar or a show and you go home with them or you start a relationship with them and they end up abusing you, taking years from your life, harming you in seemingly irreparable ways. Sometimes that person was your friend for years, or a friend of a friend. Sometimes no one believes you, and takes that person’s side. Sometimes a date is the first day of the end of your life. Sometimes you get STIs or you get pregnant. Sometimes you carry a pregnancy to term and that man you thought loved you fucks someone else and drops you both.

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with promiscuity, but these are all the things promiscuous women are sick and tired of hearing about their lifestyles. These things can happen to anyone. These things can happen on the first time, these things can happen on the 50th time. Dangerous, hurtful, hateful people are out there, and they don’t discriminate against the non-promiscuous. STIs are out there, they don’t discriminate either. Neither does sperm against your eggs. The issues here are stigmas, and thinking that danger won’t find you if you don’t look for it. Also that getting an STI is a reason to feel ashamed or “dirty” and that promiscuous people are tainted in some way. Anyone can get an STI, it’s about odds, really, and if you do, you are in no way dirty or damaged. You might be a little inconvenienced or have to change some things about your life, but it does not change how good, attractive or worthy of love and pleasure you are. Some of us promiscuous people have gotten away with risky sex with no health risk (I’ve been blessed like Lydia Lunch somehow, I don’t know), some people have sex for the first time and end up with herpes. It happens. The stigmas and witch hunts don’t help those people.

Just because you aren’t a sex worker, or promiscuous or in an open relationship doesn’t mean you are safe from abuse and exploitation. It doesn’t even make you safer. Safety comes from intuition, and sometimes danger comes from circumstances that you can’t control. Sometimes a wide and varying number of experiences can help you to hone your intuition. Sometimes sluts are actually safer because they’ve learned to spot evil from a touch, a smell, a look, a word. We develop survival skills, especially for those of us who did get hurt when we were the shining example of innocence. Danger does not seek agency, it preys.

The decision to be promiscuous is a personal one. It can be fun and exciting, you can learn so many incredible things about people, you can learn about sexuality, emotions, other lifestyles and how different, special or horrible people are. You can learn empathy, sensuality, patience. Promiscuity is becoming an expert on human emotions and human desires. It’s a powerful thing to learn. It’s not for everyone though, and that’s okay. I would never tell someone who doesn’t like to sleep around that they are missing out on something or not living to their full potential, and I would hope they wouldn’t tell me that I am missing out on something and not living to my full potential, because we have different ideas of what that means. At 28, I’m in a serious partnership with a man who thinks with nuance and empathy about my agency and lifestyle, but I might not have gotten here without all the trial and error that came before. I might not feel whole without having had the wealth of experiences I’ve had. I might not understand other people as well. It frustrates me to know this about myself, and to have my sexual history thrown back at me by strangers like it was an error in my moral fabric, a flaw in my emotional development and a permanent stain on my flesh. It invalidates the beauty of the self-love I earned.

Promiscuity does not equal insane, irresponsible, insecure, desperate or failure. So don’t treat your promiscuous friends or acquaintances as if they were failures. They just have a different path than you.

If someone tells you they live differently than you, don’t react with shock and shame. Take it as an opportunity to learn about someone else’s path. Be proud of the whores in your life, they’re brave and they want to taste it all.

XRV3SkK

Cus, you know, there’s worse things they could do.

One thought on “How To Talk To A Slut You Just Met, Know, And/Or Love

  1. ugh. I hate the word “whore”. Not because of what it supposedly denotes, but because of the fact that it is meant as a disparaging insult. Ugh. UGH. I just LOVE the moment in a conversation when someone colloquially refers to a woman being a slut or whore, which they of course don’t mean to mean sex worker at that moment, but just…an all around, sinful, all-around-evil woman – I just demand to know what the problem is with “whores”. The implicit judgment on their shit-eating grin-sporting faces leaves real quick when you rattle them about their infantile preconceived notions. “She’s a whore” “what is the problem with whores?” “they sell their bodies for money” “SO THE FUCK WHAT/WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A JOB LITERALLY EVERY DAY” etc etc etc

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