Let me start by saying I struggled with this entry for a few reasons. For one, I didn’t know what to call it. I juggled with “The Gray Area” and “Glass Houses”. I even thought I might simply call it “Scandal” since that was my inspiration, but I settled on what inflamed me and pushed me to write. I also struggled because I don’t want to come off too … too … “preachy”. One of the reasons I blog is because I want YOU, my beloved readers, to take a look at the other side of the line. We often draw them in our lives most times without even knowing it. But our ability to stretch ourselves to see the other side, to try to understand the common denominator in this human experience is really what helps us to grow. I never want to push my own agenda down your throat. I simply want you to take a moment and consider things differently. And so I struggled. Because I do feel preachy and vehemently on one side of this issue, but my hope is that you hear my point and simply consider it. That’s all.
Over the past two years, much like the rest of the world, I have become obsessed with Shonda Rhimes’ new hit television series, Scandal. Thursdays literally can’t come around fast enough in my home. We count down the days until it arrives with day-after-day commentary on what Shonda’s gonna do next! Not to mention the social media conversations we’re involved in. When I say “obsessed” I mean this show has completely eclipsed all other television experiences in my world. It’s beautifully scripted and has such a smart cast that weekly turn in amazeball performances. I’m coo coo for cocoa puffs over Scandal!
Every day I participate in email banter with a few friends from college. It’s our way of getting through the workday, catching up on each other’s lives and discussing entertainment hot topics. Recently, Scandal was the topic of conversation and I was shocked to silence by the commentary. My email buddies (both male and female) were joking around about the salacious relationship between Olivia Pope (the series main character) and her love interest Fitz (the very married President of the United States). They traded comments back and forth about Olivia and discussed her behavior. They made fun of the fact that she was sleeping with another woman’s husband. They casually called her “H-Olivia”. Fitz was championed as some kind of eighth wonder of the world. A stud. A pimp. A man whose actions commissioned virtual hi-fives and “you da man” kudos. Olivia was simply a whore.
I read it and was still. I hate that word (and I don’t use the word hate lightly). I detest the ease in which the label is used to too easily summarize a woman’s sexual choices when they conflict with some abstract, antiquated view that you learned during a f*cking after school special in 1982. I hate the way a woman’s sexual choices are scrutinized to the point that if she isn’t living the life of a nun, she’s automatically the antithesis. No ifs, ands or buts. No gray area. Just an automatic assessment that if a woman sleeps with the wrong person, she’s a whore. A freaking whore, people?!
I abhor it. I can’t stand it. It. Makes. Me. MAD. Can you tell?
I’m not sure most people even know the actual definition of the word. I believe we have replaced it’s original meaning with our own colorful, societally enhanced, MTV infused version. So, let’s define it. How does good old Merriam-Webster define the term “whore”?
Definition of WHORE
1: a woman who engages in sexual acts for money: prostitute; also : a promiscuous (composed of all sorts of persons or things; not restricted to one class, sort, or person; not restricted to one sexual partner) or immoral woman
2: a male who engages in sexual acts for money
3: a venal (capable of being bought or obtained for money or other valuable consideration): purchasable; especially : open to corrupt influence and especially bribery) or unscrupulous person
So … considering her actions, and even more important, the context in the situation, does Olivia truly fit this label?
Listen, I’m no feminist. This isn’t my virtual method of holding color posters and chanting on the corner of my state capitol building to bring awareness for this particular women’s right issue; however, the quickest way to cook my grits is to haphazardly label a woman a whore because you don’t agree with her life choices. We live in a highly sexualized, reality-television driven, morally void, buffoonery-rampant world where people clap and laugh about things that should drive us to shock and awe every day. How is it that in all of the crazy that has clearly desensitized our value system we are still able to look at a clearly complicated relationship situation and simply deduce that the woman, NOT THE PAIR ONLY THE WOMAN, involved is a whore?!
Here’s the thing. I don’t agree with Olivia’s choice to sleep with Fitz. Let me repeat for those of you loosely holding the Bible you defy daily, “I DO NOT AGREE WITH OLIVIA’S CHOICE TO CARRY ON AN AFFAIR WITH A CLEARLY MARRIED MAN.” Did you hear me? Okay … moving on. I also do not believe her choice to sleep with him makes her a whore. In my opinion, her choice says more about her self worth than her morals. She doesn’t see that she deserves to be someone’s one and only. She doesn’t see that there should never be a choice between her and someone else. She doesn’t see that she is worth more than a brief moment by the window, a quiet moment in the hallway, a glance when no one’s looking and heavy breathing over the phone at night. She doesn’t see it. She just doesn’t.
And can you blame her?
How many of you have listened EVERY time a man lied to you and slept with him anyway? How many of you allowed him to pick that fight with you knowing good and damn well he was going to carry his ass to the next woman’s house THAT NIGHT? How many times have you told yourself that the relationship would get better? How many times have you allowed yourself to be disappointed even though everything in your being is telling you to walk away? How many lies have you told yourself to keep believing? What did he tell you to get you to come back? What did he say to make you think things would be different? How did you square it with your soul knowing NOTHING would change? What did you tell yourself so that you could sleep at night? Remember when you pulled out that sad ass R&B album and put Tamia’s “Officially Missing You” on repeat feeling like the ONLY thing that could right the wrong of his absence is his voice … his touch … his presence? How many tears have your cried? How many times have YOU spread eagle hoping your “sweet stuff” would be the cherry on your “I’m about to land this man” sundae? How many people have you slept with? How many secret conversations or flirtations have you participated in because someone at the office or in the Starbucks line is giving attention that your husband or significant other has long stopped giving? How many times have you batted your eyelashes to get out of a ticket, get an extra dollop of whip cream on your iced mocha or conjure a free cocktail while out at the club? How many times have you laid down and given your body to someone you KNOW is not your forever?
Someone unworthy of you …
Someone who knew just the right thing to say …
Someone who somehow speaks to that place deep inside that no one else can reach …
Someone that makes you forget …
Someone that makes you forgive …
Someone who silences your subconscious …
Someone whose force is bigger than anything and everything your soul has ever connected with …
Even. Though. It’s. Wrong.
He or she among you without sin, please step forward and throw the first stone.
I’m not going to lie to you. If I were Olivia and was in love with Fitz and he’s saying all of the right things and I’m feeling this incredible, soul stirring level of emotion that no other person has been able to commission in my being, I can’t lie and say that my choice would be different from hers. I’d be wrong. Completely morally wrong. But I can’t say that I’d be strong enough to walk away and seek my worth given the circumstances.
Years ago I was in a relationship that was much like Olivia’s relationship with Fitz if you take away his devastatingly good looks, his position of power, his swag and … his wife. I loved this man. I would do anything for him. For me, matters were complicated even further because he was my first … everything. The first man I gave my heart, soul and body to. What I received in return was lies and complications. Things between us would be SO good until they were almost unbearably bad. And they were bad ALL the time. But, I loved him. He could have told me the sky was purple and I would’ve fought anybody who told me he was crazy. I knew he was no good for me. He cheated on me repeatedly and would create fights to make his indiscretions my fault. Somewhere in my mind, I knew he was no good for me, but I couldn’t find the strength to leave him. I was worried that he’d “straighten up and fly right” (as my Grandma would say) with the next woman. I was afraid that he was all I deserved.
One night I literally sank to my knees in the shower and prayed while sobbing. I told God that if He didn’t show me the path to leave, that I would never go. I wasn’t capable of choosing what was right. I prayed that He would give me the wisdom to see (and seek) my true worth. I prayed that He would send me the “forever guy” and give me the wisdom to identify him. Two weeks later, I met my husband … and thankfully, I was strong enough to let go of my reckless past.
I bare that part of my soul because it’s important to understand that the “gray” area in life is real and common. I know we like to believe the covenant of marriage makes it very black and white, but sadly it doesn’t. And it’s presence (i.e. marriage) certainly doesn’t make “the other woman” involved a whore. Adulterous. Yes. Immoral. Yes. Absent of self worth? Definitely. A whore?! GTFOH.
Again, my goal is to simply share that it’s never THAT simple. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t clear lines of right and wrong, but the circumstances should move you to compassion not a hollow and cruel dismissal.
Seriously … considering the points I’ve made … and your own experiences … are you a whore? Hmm … it’s probably not that simple, is it?
All the best, AskThePRGirl