Retiring the Hoe Phase
My hoe phase began in the winter of 2018, hot off the heels of a very big, very ugly, and very dramatic breakup. It was with my first love and first long term relationship, and for the first time in two and a half years I was free to do whatever I wanted with whoever I wanted (consensually!). This liberation could have manifested itself as cute little dates and shy sloppy kisses, but I was in a constant state of feeling messy, wild, and emotional. Fuck dates! Fuck cutesy hand holding and sweet kisses! I was ready to go full throttle: full hoe phase.
The ‘hoe phase’ was at that point something I had only heard about. At that point I was a month shy of my 18th birthday, so the relationship I had been in covered a lot of time in my adolescence where my friends would be experimenting in hooking up and I would already be committed to someone else. I felt inexperienced and unsavvy, making mental notes on the stories my friends would tell at lunch time about the boys they had met up with over the weekend. Jealousy over my friends and grief from losing a source of consistent intimacy pushed me into going head first - I downloaded Tinder (after I turned 18, I swear), flirted with boys at social events, and did a lot of things that probably shouldn’t be laid out in print.
Of all the sexual encounters that went down, most turned out to be more tragic than fun. There was the guy I knew through mutual friends, who started listing off all the beautiful celebrities he’d fuck right after we had sex (sorry I can’t compete with Charli XCX). Which also reminds me of that other guy who asked me after we fucked for the first time if I could be his girlfriend. Or this one guy who ejaculated into my mouth without asking me for permission (pretty rude, Ryan!). And how about that guy I hooked up with at that party one time when I was high who is still friends with some of my friends and now whenever I see him I have to pretend it never happened even though we all know it did, indeed, happen. Oh, and that other guy I fucked while I was high and had to gently let down over the course of about three months
While in hindsight these experiences make me laugh (or cringe), they carry a load of feelings of regret and sadness. I went into my ‘hoe phase’ looking for some kind of comfort or a means of giving myself control and love, and walked away from almost every hook up hating myself and powerless. My perception of a ‘hoe phase’ was that it was an opportunity for me to liberate myself with pleasure and fun, but it ended up doing the opposite.
I realised I wasn’t receiving the level of power and freedom sex can bring to other women, and that’s okay. I don’t believe it was a matter of not being able to find the right match or trying with someone else or fixing my mindset, because time and time again the short bursts of pleasure I felt through sexual interactions with people was replaced with deeper and more prolonged feelings of disgust and regret. Of the many thoughts that would float around my head, I asked myself why I gave my body to men who didn’t truly know me or ‘get’ me, and why most of these situations would occur when I was intoxicated or forcing myself to be cool with what was going on. I definitely could have created better circumstances for myself or told myself I was allowed to stop, but I wanted so badly to feel like I had ownership over my body and my belief was that exercising ownership equated to giving away. In my quest for agency and self-reassurance, I ended up losing a lot of myself.
It’s important to understand that this isn’t the case for all women, or anyone else, who engage in casual sex. Sex between two people can be an opportunity for not only pleasure, but a means of creating a connection with another person and feeling in charge of yourself. The body is a precious source of life and well-being, the temple which houses your soul - between meditation and good nutrition, sex can offer a means of caring for yourself and giving yourself positive energy.
I’ve realised past abusive relationships have created a drift inside of me where intimacy can no longer live
For women especially, we have more agency than ever over our bodies. Not to downplay the constant threats of abuse that follow us around (because they are EVERYWHERE), but social media and even pop culture has given us a new lens of seeing our bodies as a source of power rather than shame. We can choose how we treat ourselves, and although shame and criticism is still always chasing us, it’s slowly becoming more and more accepted to be a sexually liberated woman. I’ve had a few experiences where I felt there was a level of respect and friendship between myself and the other person, but my inner turmoils always get the best of me.
The last time I had sex was around eight months ago, with a stranger I met at a bar while drunk. I guess you could say that it didn’t go down very well because I asked him to stop in the middle of it and started crying about my ex-boyfriend (he still gave me his business card afterwards, so maybe he wasn’t too offended). After that I decided to hang up my ‘hoe phase’ and seek power somewhere else. I’ve realised past abusive relationships have created a drift inside of me where intimacy can no longer live, and it’s better for me to take care of myself by myself. I kissed someone for the first time in a long time a few weeks ago and it kicked up a thunderstorm inside my brain. I kissed my own friend at a party last weekend and the thought still won’t stop causing crashes around my head. A hug makes me nauseous, and cuddling makes me want to run far far away into the wilderness where I will cease to exist. I guess what I’m trying to say is, having a hoe phase isn’t for everyone. When it works out it can be an opportunity for growth, liberation and self-love, but if it’s causing inner turbulence, it’s better to throw the towel in early. While sex is fun, it’s always best to listen to your heart, mind, and body, and chase what actually provides you with safety and comfort. I’m currently finding love in nature and music. I know I have no ability to be a good partner to someone at this point in my life, but I’m looking forward to feeling ready go back to casual intimacy and sex again.