Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sluts Whores And Housewives

There's an old joke I've known forever, retold to me by "New York Guide" approximately like this:
A gentleman is pursuing a lady, and they date for a while, but she refuses to give in to his sexual advances. He starts to offer her things in exchange for her physical affections: dinners, dresses, jewels, and she finally acquiesces when he offers her a fur coat. At the fur store, she picks an extravagant full-length mink, and he suggests perhaps a rabbit stole, or maybe just $1,000 cash. Shocked, she asks, "What do you think I am, a whore?" And he replies, "Well, yes, we've already established that, I was just haggling." 
I have always had contempt for women who sell sex without being willing to call themselves whores. Women who marry for money, who date for money, or -- I shudder to think of it -- who withhold sex from their husbands or lovers for money. Who wins if you withhold sex?!? Baffling.

Well, really, I hate dishonesty and manipulation in general, unless both parties agree to it. In this relationship that we have, you and I, gentle reader (hahahaha, that's funny because most of you are nowhere near gentle!), you are aware that I might be hiding or replacing the technical details of my life to protect my privacy and safety, and I am aware that you might do the same with me. Consensual dishonesty is acceptable.

But dishonesty masquerading as a caring relationship burns me.

There were enough divorces in my family for me to understand that I could not rely on a man to provide for me financially, that I needed to learn to provide for myself. So I did. Quite nicely, in fact. And both my marriages have been with men who have made less money than I have for long stretches, and that's been fine with both of us. Secretly, I kind of even liked it. It was so clear to me that I married for love.

So while I've had a lot of disdain in my life for whores who pretend they are not whoring, I have always had a lot of respect for professional sex workers. And unabashed sluts - what's not to love about women with high sex drives who pursue their own pleasure? One of my favorite entries from was approximately "What about us? Where's the Slut Pride Parade?"

So in the Slut vs Whore hierarchy in my mind, I've always sided with the Sluts first, then sex workers (prostitutes, strippers, phone sex operators), then a lot of other people, then housewives who marry for money but not love. Honesty first, then lust, then a lot of other values, then greed.

But I had a funny experience that made me realize that I might be shifting from slut into whore. Or I might have already shifted, and I'm just now noticing.

A caller mentioned off-handedly that he was going to re-up his account, because "the recession hasn't hit me as hard as most." And immediately, internally I perked up and had this strong, visceral "Well, hello there you sexy hunk of man meat, you" response. And then, just as immediately, for the first time in my life, I felt like a whore.

I have now lusted after a man for his money. I feel a little dirty.

Thankfully, he's also smart, imaginative, articulate, funny, and interested in exploring unique territory with me over the phone, so I could tell myself that my Inner Slut and my Inner Socialite were already wildly attracted to him, that was just the response of Inner Businesswoman joining the "Yes" vote.

But in my guts, I know: something has changed. I hope I still respect myself in the morning.

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