I'm a Whore

and a Prude

I’ve been called a whore in India. I was able to garner this qualification by keeping company with mostly male friends and having a relationship with more than one person. In the United States, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being called both prude and a whore. Lucky me! So which am I?

Interpretations are pretty simple in India, until they’re not. The simple version dictates any woman who hangs out with men, dates men, sleeps with men prior to marriage or is involved with more than one man during her lifetime is a whore. Exceptions are made for those with status, power, money, fame and celebrity — as is the case with everything in India.

United States is more complex and varied, indicative of our diversity.

 .  .  .

THE IMBALANCE

SEX

Last time I checked, it takes two people to do the horizontal mambo in equal measure. And yet, both participants are perceived very differently by their peers, family and society for engaging in the same activity. Worse, they reap different and life-changing consequences. Why?

Why did we slut-shame, ridicule and humiliate Monica Lewinsky and drove her to the brink of suicide, while Bill Clinton was able to get on with life as usual, and continued to be well respected by both men and women? Why is Stormy Daniels a despicable human being with no morals but her white-collar clients are not?

BODY PARTS

What is it about a penis versus a vagina that makes it acceptable for men to engage in sex without morals, rules or restrictions, but the same is unacceptable for women? The former are forgiven for their misgivings by virtue of the fact that they are “men.” But the same latitude is not dispensed to women for being “women.”

Why are females viewed to be “deflowered,” but male virgins are not? Why are males “taking” female virginity while the alternative is inconceivable? Why are females thought of as “used” or “loose,” while males are thought of as “experienced.”

WORDS MATTER

Whore. Slut. Slag. Just to name a few. One is hard pressed to find it’s true equivalent for a male. The best we’ve been able to conjure up is “man-whore.” The fact that we add a prefix to the word whore suggests it is applicable only to women. It is not!

Whore is not gender specific. And yes, the brilliant minds at Oxford Dictionary need to update their definition.

Playboy. Womanizer. Lady-Killer. None of the words used to describe men’s casual or cavalier sexual behavior have the same impact or meaning as the word whore. Not even close. In fact, these words have an underlying sense of accomplishment and admiration for men.

Words have power to wound, discredit and destroy. How we use them weaves intricately through our society. Our beliefs and what we deem to be acceptable or not, become the gateway and complicit accessories to more sinister thoughts, actions and justifications.

Here’s a small sampling –

“She deserved to get raped. She was a whore anyway.”

“She was dressed like a skank. She was asking for it.”

Women are beaten, stoned and killed in the name of honor. Honor that is singularly associated with women’s sexual behavior and choices.

Female genital mutilation. Yes, this is happening right here in the United States too.

Pimps and sex-traffickers use such derogatory terms to belittle, bully and shame their victims. They feed the girls’ minds with thoughts that strip them of self-confidence and self-worth. The girls feel they have no respite or safe place to go as society will reject them due to our beliefs about women and sex. Pimps mindfuck the girls, while clients do so literally.

Victims of sexual assault or rape are routinely subjected to having their character in question at the witness stand. Standard legal tactics! We determine the quality of their character and credibility by how sexually active or “promiscuous” they are — a line of questioning reserved exclusively for women. What does chewing gum have to do with solving algebra?

SOURCE OF IMBALANCE

Ever wondered why society is designed the way it is? When and where did these archaic and inequitable thoughts originate from? Let’s explore an important sliver that has contributed to our current inequities.

Social exchange theory, rooted in economics, psychology and sociology, was developed by sociologist George Homans. The theory purports that we form relationships in the same way we make decisions about buying a product; we conduct a cost-benefit analysis, compare alternatives and negotiate for the best deal.

Let’s assume sex is a product or a resource. Both men and women possess this resource. However, men seem to want sex more than women; thus, giving women the upper hand. In order for men to obtain sex, they must barter a deal. For the exchange, they offer women security, money, attention, commitment, sexual fidelity and conformity to certain expectations.

If sex was the only asset with which women could bargain, (especially prior to women having the right to work and control their earnings) then you would want the price of sex, your product, to be as high as possible. By restricting supply, you increase the price, your bargaining power and control over men.

So how do you restrict supply?

Cooperation! If the product is readily available to men, that would undermine women’s control and bargaining power. Thus, it would be in women’s best interest to refrain and restrict sex.

If women ventured outside these unsaid boundaries by making sex available more easily to men, it put pressure on other women to either follow suit or bear the brunt of reduced bargaining power. Instead, they chose to bring “wayward” women, aka strippers, call girls, prostitutes and women that exercised more casual attitude towards dating or sex, back in alignment. They did so by employing manipulative sanctions — derogatory gossip, ostracism and impact on reputation. These sanctions relied on fear, shame, guilt and humiliation.

And therein lies the history and evolution to our current status.

WHY WOMEN CALL WOMEN WHORES AND PRUDES

The social exchange theory provides good insights into why women are catty and vicious to each other. While women are more independent today, we have not been able to shed remnants of the social exchange theory; in part, because it’s hard to relinquish beliefs that have been passed on for centuries and become innate. The other part is because social exchange continues to prevail.

The first category of women that call other women a wide array of disdainful names stem from their own fears and insecurities. They feel threatened by other women’s looks, style, intelligence, confidence, personality and so on, which tend to garner men’s attention. That activates jealousy. So instead of working on their own fears and insecurities, they judge and resort to bullying in efforts to feel better about themselves. It’s easier.

Image: ABC | Kaitlyn Bristowe, gorgeous, bold and free spirited Bachelorette received death threats for sleeping with Nick Viall on the show. Nick was not subjected to the same treatment by women.

Women’s ideas about women’s sexuality also derive strongly from religious influences. Ironically, the perception of sex and intimacy through their puritanical beliefs are in fact, very impure. Their myopic thoughts are laden with judgments, assumptions and hypocrisy.

Kaitlyn Bristowe, Bachelorette in 2015, received a vicious barrage of messages and death threats from women for choosing to sleep with contestant Nick Viall prior to the Fantasy Suite date and her final selection. These messages reveal truths about us collectively.

“Kaitlyn, you need to unspread your whore legs.”

“Shut your filthy diseased mouth and fuck off.”

“Kaitlyn is a selfish whore with no morals and pathetic excuse for a human being! She should just crawl in a hole and die. I hope the fans break her spirit so that our kids can see that whoring behavior isn’t rewarded.”

These comments lend credibility to the quote “Hell hath no fury like a scorned woman.”

The second category of women that resort to disparaging other women originate from love. And fear. Mother’s have known to call their daughters whores in efforts to have them conform to society out of fear that their daughters will garner a bad reputation. Both daughter and family risk being ostracized. Repercussions vary. In India, it may lead to the daughter never getting married, which would be a cataclysmic disaster!

Women that call other women prudes tend be two-fold — girls or women who regret their choices want others to follow suit in efforts to reduce their guilt and not feel alone. Others call women prudes to defend their choices and protect their dignity; it’s a defense mechanism.

Neither want to be judged. And yet, they do exactly that to others.

In effect, women damage each other more than anyone else. Women call each other harmful names that continue to perpetuate and preserve the imbalance. And they keep at it with style and intensity — cruel and ferocious.

WHY MEN CALL WOMEN WHORES AND PRUDES

Men are easy, no pun intended. Any woman who chooses to sleep with any other man except them is a whore. And any woman who won’t cave into their wooing toolkit is a prude.

Rejection hurts. It bruises their ego, self worth and manhood. To heal their wounds, they resort to verbal bullying by using derogatory terms. They hope to guilt and shame women into favorable outcomes or crush their spirit.

WHAT NEXT?

Asking bullies to stop bullying does not solve the problem at its core. Neither does reclamation of such words. Are we going to start calling each other hoes and sluts? While I understand how reclaiming the word can be empowering to an individual personally, it does not lend itself to fundamental shifts in attitudes.

Instead, we need to address the issue by focusing on ourselves. We cannot dictate or force others to think differently. But we do have control over our thoughts and actions. This is where the gold is.

If there’s one thing we can learn from men is how they own their sexual prowess and make no bones about it. It’s one of the reasons why we can’t seem to successfully slut-shame men. We disarm bullies when their words lose power; they become flaccid. Their words dissipate in shaming us effectively when we stop believing what they say about us.

And if their bullying still hurts, then it’s indicative of work we still have to do within ourselves.

We need to understand our own fears, insecurities and judgments. We need to unravel the nonsensical stories we’ve bought into without question or fight. Working on them leads us to understand who we are, revise the old stories and own the new you. At this point, words that were once hurtful have no power over you.

FULL CIRCLE

Back to where we started. So which am I — a whore or a prude?

I am whatever people think I am. Their perception of me is a reflection of them. I’m simply a mirror revealing their true self.

If people want to judge and call me names, I’d be happy to join in on the fun. Heck, I’ll even help them if they run out of steam. I’ve been told I have quite an admirable potty mouth.

RESOURCES

Monica Lewinsky, TED Talk on Shame.

Movie Trailer: Easy A — Featuring Emma Stone. The movie showcases gender stereotypes about sex through comedy.

Social Exchange Theory

Study and results on Cultural Suppression of Women’s Sexuality

University student accused player of rape shares her experience about the police investigation.

Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian, Qandeel Baloch, strangled by her brother for becoming a sex symbol. Watch video

Female Genital Mutilation in the United States.

Movie Trailer: The Whistleblower — Based on a true story about the expose of a dangerous reality of corruption, sexual slavery and human-trafficking in post-war Bosnia by U.S. private contractors assigned to provide humanitarian services with our tax dollars. And multinational diplomatic talk for systemic cover-ups by United Nations.

Published: July 24, 2018

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From Global Roots to Unearthed Truths

Asha was born in India, raised in Oman, and lived in London before settling in the U.S. Her multi-continent, multi-cultural, global experience was a clear predecessor that fed her insatiable curiosity – and the inspiration for her defining Twizted voice.

As a rare breed, she’s truly mastered the art of metamorphosis in body, mind and soul. In her first adult incarnation she graduated Magna Cum Laude from ASU and pursued a vibrant career in the hospitality industry. Then, she grew new wings. Ever intrepid and intrigued by the unknown, she launched and helped grow a thriving e-Commerce technology company with her business partner, proving herself as an entrepreneur and demonstrating both the skills and resolve required of a woman intent on succeeding in a male-dominated industry.

In 2014, she boldly stepped into uncharted territories again, starting a new venture, Twizted Myrtle, in pursuit of her undeniable thirst to confront and create consequential social change. Few understood why she would leave behind a burgeoning e-Commerce business that served marquee clients like Amazon, Samsonite, Viacom, Pokémon, Red Bull, Taylor Swift and other household names – all during the pinnacle of a successful career.

The impetus for leaving the traditional business world for a less conventional path was intensely personal; a deafening voice and inimitable force inside her told Asha that she needed to contribute to the world in a very personal and life-changing way. Asha found herself in the throes of depression and new depths of loneliness. She was acutely aware her “success” was empty. Like many, she had lost her soul in the daily grind of chasing unhappiness.

Ironically, during this time, her depression revealed spiritual clarity; it connected her to the struggles of others who face the same suffocating walls of relenting darkness. Photography became a sacred respite that unleashed a strident voice; like a caged tiger set free, she could never again return to the confined existence dictated by society.

Twizted Myrtle became the multi-pronged platform to confront social issues that we’ve been plagued with for centuries. To break free from these vicious circles, she challenges what we accept, without question, as “wisdom,” and our conventional way of thinking through artistic means – provocative writings, thought-jarring podcasts and captivating photography.

Bringing a refreshing curiosity with the unique empathy of a true global citizen, she speaks with an open mind and unfiltered honesty on a host of issues where most would fear to tread. Her work compels us to see and think differently to help unlock our mindsets from self-imposed limitations. In doing so, she seeks to help people break free from the invisible chains that enslave us as oblivious prisoners.