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Jun 30 2013

Yes I am a whore

Throughout the ages, dissenting women have always been called whores. I know I have many times.

My response? “Yes, yes, I am a whore…”

Read below Taslima Nasrin’s poem called “You go Girl”, which she read out during her speech at Atheist Ireland’s Dublin conference “Empowering Women Through Secularism” (and which by the way made me sob uncontrollably…)

You Go Girl!
Taslima Nasrin

They said—take it easy…
Said—calm down…
Said—stop talkin’…
Said—shut up….
They said—sit down….
Said—bow your head…
Said—keep on cryin’, let the tears roll…

What should you do in response?

You should stand up now
Should stand right up
Hold your back straight
Hold your head high…
You should speak
Speak your mind
Speak it loudly
Scream!

You should scream so loud that they must run for cover.
They will say—’You are shameless!’
When you hear that, just laugh…

They will say— ‘You have a loose character!’
When you hear that, just laugh louder…

They will say—’You are rotten!’
So just laugh, laugh even louder…

Hearing you laugh, they will shout,
‘You are a whore!’

When they say that,
just put your hands on your hips,
stand firm and say,
“Yes, yes, I am a whore!”

They will be shocked.
They will stare in disbelief.
They will wait for you to say more, much more…

The men amongst them will turn red and sweat.
The women amongst them will dream to be a whore like you.

24 comments

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  1. 1
    Fiona

    Powerful.

  2. 2
    Lofty

    Be proud to be what you are, not what the forces of conformity want you to be.

    1. 2.1
      Comtessa de Metoncula

      I have never been any other way !

  3. 3
    jeanettecorlett-black

    Wonderful!

  4. 4
    Comtessa de Metoncula

    A whore could not exist if it were not for MEN of all sorts of walk of life, ready to use and ab use them!
    I rest my case.

  5. 5
    jose

    o_o’

    Agreeing with woman-hating men is feminism now?

  6. 6
    flyingteacosy

    Glad I wasn’t the only one moved to tears by Taslima Nasrin’s talk. She was truly incredible.

  7. 7
    Chris Hall

    I’m sorry, but I really object to this. If you’re not going to support real whores, then don’t appropriate their identity as your own. So far, FTB hasn’t been very vocal in supporting the rights of sex workers to do their jobs safely, legally, and without stigma. Taslima in particular has an extremely bad history on the topic, having equated prostitution with slavery and insulted actual sex work activists like Maggie Mayhem in the process. To my knowledge, she’s never apologized for either her treatment of Maggie in particular, or of her abuse of sex work activists. And yet, she’s willing to adapt that identity for the purpose of making a statement.

    In addition to our issues with misogyny and racism, it’s time for the atheists to start dealing with whorephobia in the community. Silencing women and men who do sex work, then grabbing their identities for your own use is in no way progressive or just.

    1. 7.1
      Camas

      In this case ‘whore’ is not referring to actual sex workers; but the fact that the word ‘whore’ gets thrown at any female person who is speaking or acting in a way that someone does not approve of. Perhaps if sex-workers were not denigrated in our culture then words like whore would have no sting and would not be used as an insult. But the reality it, people use that word all the time as an insult and a sorry attempt to shut up women. And thus, all women need to own the word whore and throw it back at the ugly jerks who use this word as an insult.

      1. Chris Hall

        Camas, my point is that those of us who are “civilians” don’t get to to decide what “whore” means. That word has a lot of implications; whether you are or aren’t a whore means the difference between many, many privileges and comforts, and those experiences aren’t universal to all women. It is not a word like “bitch,” or “cunt,” that is used as a general expression of misogyny and abuse. It has specific legal and social consequences.

        In the blog post I wrote on this topic, I compare what Maryam and Taslima are doing here to the white feminist who was photographed at SlutwalkNYC in 2011, holding a sign that said “Woman is the N__er of the world.” There was huge outrage from black communities over that, and rightly so. As many writers at the time pointed out, it is not the right of white people to say what that word means.

        What makes this case particularly acute, though, is Taslima’s positions and history regarding sex work. As I pointed out above, she’s not willing to listen to sex workers when they speak up for themselves. When Maggie criticized Taslima’s post from her own experience as an escort, model, and porn star, Taslima called her a “house slave.” Taslima was not willing to treat the voice of an experienced, articulate whore as legitimate, but she is willing to embrace the title of “whore” for herself to make a political point.

        If Taslima wants to stand up and declare herself a bitch, a cunt, even a slut as a statement against misogyny, I’ll be there to back her up. But the word “whore” is not hers to wear.

        1. ashleymoore

          Whatever problems there are with Taslima’s view of prostitution, she is not appropriating the word “whore” here. Other people are already calling her a whore and she is just refusing to be insulted by it.

          There is an irony that she refuses to be insulted by the term “whore”, while looking down on prostitutes, but this isn’t on the same par as “Woman is the nigger of the world”, because as far as I’m aware, no white woman ever got called “nigger” to shut them down.

        2. Rebekah, the Wily Jew

          I compare what Maryam and Taslima are doing here to the white feminist who was photographed at SlutwalkNYC in 2011, holding a sign that said “Woman is the N__er of the world.” There was huge outrage from black communities over that, and rightly so. As many writers at the time pointed out, it is not the right of white people to say what that word means.

          Well the person who co-wrote that line, “Woman is the Nigger of the world”, was a non-white woman, Yoko Ono.

      2. Maryam Namazie

        It’s good to see someone having a clue on the use of the word.

    2. 7.2
      alanflynn

      @Chris Hall, I do agree with you. I was also struck by the incongruity of Taslima’s use of ‘I am a whore’ when she wishes to ban sex work, albeit through prosecuting users & pimps rather than the workers themselves. There is no denying that many people – male as well as female – choose this work as a means of making a living in the imperfect society in which we live & they do not feel degraded by it. Such degradation as does exist comes to a significant extent from the prevailing attitude that their work is shameful. Last week I remonstrated with a Muslim colleague of mine who called prostitutes ‘whores’; I objected because she used the word specifically to degrade female sex workers. I say the same thing now: let’s respect sex workers in the same way as we respect any service provider. I believe we should let people make their own choices & respect their agency – whether it be wearing a burqa or selling sex.

    3. 7.3
      HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

      Agreed really intensely here. There’s a lot of actual misogyny directed at sex workers here, and appropriating the term to make a point is fucking wrong anyway.

      1. Rebekah, the Wily Jew

        “appropriating the term to make a point is fucking wrong anyway”

        Your comment would be anything but a farce if “whore” were not widely and indiscriminately applied to women who simply are more promiscuous than patriarchal norms prefer.

  8. 8
    robertbaden

    Chris Hall, Have you read Greta Christina’s Blog?

    1. 8.1
      Chris Hall

      For years before there was a Freethought Blogs, Robert. I have immense respect for her. Why?

      1. maudell

        Obviously because Greta and about a third of FtB bloggers rebutted/denounced Taslima’s post (I’m sure you know that – from the top of my head I remember Richard Carrier, Crommunist, Lousy Canuk, but I remember there were others).

        I have no clue why you take Maryam to task for what Taslima wrote, but I might have missed something. What I know is that most writers here defend sex workers. And that every writer is its own individual. So allow me to not get the gist of your criticism (your post only links to this post of Maryam). It almost sounds as you arbitrarily lump women from a similar geographic region together.

        Like about 99% of commenters, I was super offended at Taslima’s stance on sex workers. I have huge respect for Maggie Mayhem. But seriously, your comparison of Taslima and Maryam and the racism of the Slutwalk is quite ironic. Not once do you stop to think that both had their life directly and seriously threatened for being women and being apostates (a fatwa for Taslima’s death), and you dismiss their writing as frivolous. You haven’t stepped back and wondered how racist your post is. I’m really interested in the non-racist reason why you lump both writers into a single entity and you deny their experience (or didn’t bother take the 2 minutes required to look it up).

        1. Chris Hall

          The idea that I’m lumping Maryam and Taslima together because of their ethnic origins is patently ridiculous: I linked them because Maryam wrote a “Me, too!” post reprinting Taslima’s poem. With the title “Yes, I am a Whore.” Unless I’m misinformed, neither of them are sex workers, or have a past as sex workers.

          If you did actually read my piece, then you’ll note that I do acknowledge Taslima’s struggles: “Taslima has shown extraordinary courage in speaking up in a part of the world where it’s very dangerous for any woman, any atheist to do so, but in this case she and Maryam are wrong.”

          And I mean that. I find both of them very valuable, powerful women. In terms of their politics towards sex workers, though, they are wrong.

        2. Maryam Namazie

          I didn’t know of any debate on sex workers at FTB so can’t comment on it. I’ll look into it and get back on it later next week as I have to prepare for launch of Council of Ex-Muslims of France this weekend.

  9. 9
    Lorna Salzman

    I am waiting for you to comment on the British denial of entry to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, and on the arrest of two Englishmen who were arrested after merely walking in an area where there was a mosque, even though they had done nothing whatsoever. Do you believe in free speech and free association? Surely you agree that everyone is entitled to the same rights? Do you have any comments? I respect and comment your work on women’s rights but i am surprised that you have not commented on these. Have you contacted Teresa May? Have you issued a statement urging that the government allow Geller and Spencer to visit? Their purpose was to attend the funeral of murdered soldier Lee Rigby.

    1. 9.1
      Maryam Namazie

      I think even bigots like Spencer and Geller have the right to free expression but I am not wasting my time defending them. There are enough bigots out there to defend them like the EDL.

    2. 9.2
      Rebekah, the Wily Jew

      Lorna, Maryam is one of the few people on the left with the moral integrity to call out leftwing accommodationism of Islam. You should be happy with that and realise she cannot address every issue. Besides the Gellar/Spencer affair is getting its share of attention.

  1. 10
    Literate Perversions | To Maryam Namazie and Taslima Nasrin: No, You Are Not Whores

    [...] social justice, I think that Maryam Namazie and Taslima Nasrin have seriously fucked up with this post, and need to be called out for really need to be called out for [...]

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