A Loose Woman

Yesterday, I had an interaction with a man who was upset about something I wrote over at Pith in which I was enraged at Hulk-like levels. The thing that pissed me off is that, after criticizing my writing–not the grammar of it, but the approach I was taking–he demanded that I appease him, make him feel better about me or what I wrote.

I’m not even a pretty woman and I am tired, so tired, of people expecting me to be pleasing to them and being angry when I’m not. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have an appearance (beyond just that of generally female) that men felt was for them and thus compelled that woman to have to give a shit about maintaining the pleasant feelings of those men.

And I still go back to my suspicion that (some) men think that, if you’ve done something–intentionally or not–to get their attention, you have taken something from them and thus you owe them. Whereas, I believe that where you put your attention is your own business and your responsibility to manage. And the feelings you have about where you put your attention are also on you to manage.

The other thing I resent is that, as a woman, I’ve been brought up to believe that being a whore is one of the worst things you can be. But what is a whore? A woman who does intimate things whether or not she feels the emotion behind those intimate things for pay. I give you a blow job because I love you or at least find you desirable. A whore gives you a blowjob for fifty bucks. She may like you or find you desirable. She may not.

I, as a woman, am constantly policed (often by other women) for whether I am too whore-ish while at the same time, men constantly demand I do intimate emotional work for them regardless of how I feel about them in exchange for them not hurting me.

In other words, women are under constant pressure to not be whores at the same time we’re pressured to be whores.

There is no virgin/whore dichotomy. There’s just whether you’re a whore who’s bossed around by others or a whore who’s her own boss.

We denigrate sex workers and other “loose” women in order to fool women into thinking that there is a “good girl” category you can get into, but there’s really not.

I mean, even look at that term, “loose women.” I know, when I’ve heard it, I’ve thought it meant they had big, over-used vaginas (ha ha, talk about internalized misogyny) or that they were too free with their bodies, but really, it just means they’re running loose. Like a loose horse or loose cattle or a dog that’s gotten loose–it’s not clear who, if anyone, bosses her around.

And I guess, for the most part, I’m a loose woman and I resent the fuck out of anyone who comes along and demands I work for him.

But I also resent that I’m supposed to understand “whore” as a bad thing while at the same time being pressured to do intimate work for others as if that’s my purpose. If whores are bad, stop demanding women be whores for you all the fucking time. And if whores aren’t bad, stop using the term to hurt women.

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4 thoughts on “A Loose Woman

  1. The term “loose woman” emerged in the 17th century (or thereabouts) and had to do with women who wore their stays (corset) too loose or who ran around without one.
    Often in paintings you see a woman in deshabille with her corset on the floor and that was a sign for a sexually available woman.
    It’s like running around without underwear today (we haven’t socialized bras the same way).
    But like your analogy of the dog off the leash, an uncorseted woman was thought to be flouting the social rules and running rampant, acting as if she was an autonomous person who could comport herself however she likes! Crazy!

  2. emjb, I saw that going around yesterday. And I agree that it’s work we’re practically required to do that men don’t understand even that they’re requiring it.

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