I always envied my friends for attracting romantic and sexual attention in high school. To tell the truth, I craved any attention that might have come my way; I was openly bisexual, and not-so-openly thirsty. But I didn’t have my first kiss until junior year, and by then I had convinced myself that I would have to have my hoe phase in college, since it seemed like there was no chance of anybody trying to sleep with me in high school. I imagined college would give me a fresh start—more options than the few out gay girls (most of whom were my close friends) and the boys I had known since we were third-graders.
College was destined to give me a fresh start. I decided to move from California to New York, with nobody from my hometown joining me, to attend a liberal arts college known and harassed by the Westboro Baptist Church for its promiscuity and queerness. In 2020, though, this was obviously too good to be true. A two-week school closure turned into a drive-thru graduation and eventually a half-capacity flight to New York, where my parents hastily dropped me off as if for a weeklong summer camp and I stood socially distanced in a line of students I vaguely recognized from Instagram. This was clearly not the beginning of the slutty first semester I had in mind—I could hardly even develop orientation-week crushes when I could only see their eyes.
And so my first semester began not with a string of meaningless hookups, but with a two-week quarantine. I worried I was losing time to become the sexually empowered woman I’d always wanted to be, to participate in hookup culture and learn what I was doing instead of relying on the knowledge from my two lackluster sexual experiences in high school. I thought of myself as a hoe even before I had sex for the first time; I knew I would fall into stereotypical hoe behavior when opportunities arose, which I’d thought would happen as soon when I started college. I resented the pandemic for preventing me from leaning into the hoe lifestyle I so desired.
Without the ability to sleep with the entirety of the freshman class, however, I discovered I could actually embrace my sexuality more than ever. I wasted hours on Tinder sending dry messages and half-heartedly agreeing to plans I knew would never come to fruition, only to discover that for the first time in my teenage years, I had no interest in dating; I felt perfectly satisfied being alone, because starting college gave me an opportunity to grow by myself. Once I became content with being single, I felt free to express myself as a hoe because I shifted the focus to my own pleasure rather than validation from a partner. I’d hesitated to identify as a hoe in high school because I hadn’t slept around, but being a single college student in a pandemic, I discovered the mindset is what defines a hoe. For me, being a hoe means openly acknowledging that I desire and enjoy sex. Once I became empowered in my sexuality, I was unafraid to convey my openness to sex. Freshly eighteen, I celebrated that the world could accept me as a sexual being and I could begin to express myself as such without feeling ashamed. I openly discussed my desires and curiosities with friends, and I worked to understand my sexuality with their support. I joined my college’s sexuality magazine and found a community with whom I could speak candidly about sex, read erotic poetry, and learn how to take nudes that belong in a gallery.
My sexual confidence developed without actually having sex for over a year, allowing me to pursue my next experience with the authority of a veteran hoe. With an air of self-assuredness, I asked a friend bluntly if he wanted to hook up, and thus began my first situationship. I had progressed miles since being with my last partner; then, I didn’t even have the heart to tell him where to touch me, and a year later I was asking my friend to tie me up with his belt. Besides gaining sexual prowess, I learned effective communication skills from my first friend with benefits, perhaps the most important tool in every hoe’s arsenal. Equipped with the confidence to express my needs and desires, I returned home for an extended winter break without any expectations of sex or romance. On Christmas night, though, I exchanged my pajamas for Calvin Klein underwear and easily removable layers, told my mom I was going for a drive, and waited for my hookup to arrive in his Prius. When I texted my college group chat “about to get some Christmas dick” with the sunglasses and Christmas tree emojis, I finally felt like the hoe I imagined I would be years prior. But with the knowledge I’d acquired from my first semester, I knew that I wasn’t a hoe merely for having Christmas car sex, but for shamelessly acknowledging that I wanted it. The reward for asking for what I wanted was my first orgasm with a partner—a true Christmas miracle for a proud Jewish hoe.
My sexless hoe phase taught me that I don’t need to be ashamed to ask for what I want, that I should prioritize my own pleasure, and that I can experiment without judgment. Perhaps “hoe awakening” is a better phrase to describe this period of development. In the midst of a pandemic, I accepted myself as a sexual being. And the importance of advocating for my own pleasure is sure to remain long after the government allows me to have sex with whomever I want again.
By Maya Page