Expanded excerpt from the best-selling book, From Ivy League To Stripper Life: 10 Lessons Learned
From rap to rock, mansions to projects, women and girls are continuously referred to as sluts and hoes. The words roll off the tongue of both men and women, young and old alike. Between friends, it’s a term of endearment or used in a joking manner. But all too often, the words are used to degrade a woman for her sexual behavior. While there is no way to permanently remove the word from the English language or instill compassion and understanding to prevent everyone from hurting others with it, those of us who’ve been defined by it can speak out about its harmful effects. Hopefully, it will inspire more people to stop degrading others by their perceived or actual sexual exploits.
I was probably six or seven when my older cousin, my first abuser, called me a freak. I immediately felt guilty. He had been snatching me out bed in the middle of the night and coercing me into the attic during the day to have sex. Every time it was over, I felt dirty and embarrassed. But it also felt good. Yet, I still tried to prevent it from happening. Deep down, I knew it was wrong. But he kept me compliant by threatening to tell grandma that I was being a freak.
When I moved to Princeton, NJ to live with my mom, I was sexually abused again. This time, my abuser told his friends about me and I became the neighborhood ho. The abuse lasted from seven to twelve years of age.
“I don’t remember the total number of older boys and men who raped me. I do recall the gang rapes. And I recall telling one that I got my period, hoping it would deter him from pulling down our pants. But it didn’t. He said I was a woman now and pulled out when he came.”
As you can imagine, my teen years were ripe with promiscuity. I had sex with boys my own age and men old enough to be my father. Because I’d been abused in two states by boys who’d never met, I came to the conclusion that’s all I’d ever be good for. Plus, my abusers made sure to remind me of this. Family, friends and strangers chimed in as well. What pissed me off about it though, was that everyone blamed me for what my abusers had done. No one, other than I, perceived their actions as deplorable and disgusting. Because I was the only one who felt this way and no one validated those feelings, the only conclusion I could draw was that I was a ho.
And based on the definition from the urban dictionary, that’s exactly what I was. Urban dictionary defines a ho as:
“a promiscuous woman, someone who engages in casual sex, thereby having multiple sex partners.” Multiple sex partners is a relative term and the exact number doesn’t really matter; when men refer to a woman as a ho, they’re typically indicating that it took a little effort for him and many other men to get her in bed.
My feelings of disgust, shame and guilt were directed inward instead of towards those who groomed and manipulated me into becoming the neighborhood ho. So for years, that’s exactly how I behaved. If a man wanted to have sex with me and I found him somewhat attractive, we usually had sex. If a man didn’t act sexually attracted to me, it affected my self-esteem. After all, all I was good for was sex. Never did it occur to me that some men were simply respectful, wanted to take it slow or faithful to their significant other. I’d never met a man like that. All the men who approached me wanted sex. If a man seemed genuinely interested in dating or getting to know me, I immediately thought something was wrong with him. Or that he was a “good boy” and too good for me. No, the men who belonged in my bed were users unable to see beyond my cute face and phat ass…….
When you’re given the backstory to someone’s life, it usually results in a paradigm shift. When people hear my story, they’re always sympathetic towards me and enraged about the abuse and lack of support I received. But why does anyone have to tell their story to gain sympathy? Why does a promiscuous woman have to validate her behavior in order for others to understand and stop judging?
No one should ever be defined by their actions. But all too often, that’s exactly what we do. We even label men and women heroes or saviors due to an act to save or stance against an injustice. But when we discover that “hero” has a drug problem or has been embezzling funds, we remove the title and replace it with a negaive one, one that “befits” the crime. Either way, we need to cease placing people in neat little boxes, expecting them to remain there and never grow or make a mistake.
A woman may work as a stripper yet be more forthright and honest than your sorority friends. She may also be struggling with issues stemming from abuse or low self esteem. Or she may not. Either way, to disregard someone due to their sex life or occupation is baseless and immature. And says a lot more about your character than it does about any stripper.