Recently, I was applauded for my sexual freedom.

Photo: Giphy

Granted, it was in a text message that essentially told me to pursue something more “serious” elsewhere because they weren't with being on the other end. So, said compliment fell on deaf ears. The comment was made after a few intimate trysts here and there between the two of us. By no means was I looking for a relationship with the gentleman at that moment. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had sabotaged the possibility of one by obeying my carnal desires, instead of working under the 90-day rule.

I fought this internal struggle, wondering if my choice to be in tune with my sexuality had put in me in a position to only engage in the dreaded "situationship." I even took a vow of celibacy to focus on myself and figure out what was wrong with me. Was I to install a mental clicker every time I “caught a body”? Did I have to start playing by patriarchy’s rules to get something of substance? What was substance anyway?

At the end of it, my position on the matter was clear: screw that.

I don’t really need to abstain from sex to find something valuable. Curb my cravings because of some antiquated belief that I’m less than a woman because I like to get my rocks off? Push my kinks aside out of fear they'll be considered taboo? Pssh! I’m a black women with a particular sexual appetite, and damn it, I love it.

Author, womanist and all-around queen, Patricia Hill Collins, spoke about the spectrum we black women live under in her best-selling book, Black Feminist Thought. “Regulating Black women’s sexuality also constituted a part of gender oppression,” she writes. “Dividing women into two categories—the asexual, moral women to be protected by marriage and their sexual, immoral counterparts—served as a gender template for constructing ideas about masculinity and femininity. The major archetypal symbols of women in Western thought construct women’s sexuality via a tightly interwoven series of binaries. Collectively, these binaries create a sexual hierarchy with approved sexual expression installed at the top and forbidden sexualities relegated to the bottom.”

These binaries limit our living. They stunt any type of growth and exploration unless it’s encouraged by patriarchal societies, contributing to the scary statistic that less than 50 percent of women are simply not satisfied with their sexual experiences. How will you know what you love, what your body yearns for, without a bit of practice? Why shame the body for wanting what it wants? That’s no way to live.

Quite frankly, it’s a bit elementary.

But, see—that's where the conundrum occurs. If my count is low, I’m considered prudish and inexperienced. Nobody wants to be with the virgin adjacent. On the opposite side, if my body count cracks the double digits (or higher; get it how you live), I’m damaged goods. I’m a hoe. Meanwhile, there’s this unofficial green light for my male counterparts to engage in as little or as much sex as they can handle to figure out just exactly what they want out of life. In fact, it’s encouraged to get it all out before settling down. If that’s not a ill-built part of the game, I don’t know what is. So, when people have such strong opinions about “sluts and skeezers” (cough, Tyrese Gibson), I just have to question who these men are sleeping with, because we damn sure aren’t sleeping with ourselves.

Slay on, girl. As long as you’re treating your body right and taking the right precautions to live healthy after each sexual encounter, I tip my hat off to you. I join in your freedom.

This new era of embraced hoeism gives me an outstanding amount of life. I can’t tell you how happy I am when I see women totally flip a phrase used to oppress and shame a demographic, and use it to flex. Show skin or cover up. Put out or save yourself. Keep your number high or low. By no means am I shaming women who don’t agree with my message of openness and fluidity. I just want to prove that there is space for all of us to like what we like without criticism. Kimberly Jones said it best: “Get your own sh*t. Why you ridin’ mine?”

If being a hoe involves me being one with my sexuality, damning any patriarchal theories about how a woman should conduct herself while respectfully and healthily exploring my body, then you can color me a hoe. Just sprinkle respect on my name whilst you do so.