Dear Fuck-Up: Can I Call My Ex-Friend a Whore and Still Be a Feminist?

Ask a Fuck-UpAsk a Fuck-UpAdvice from someone who should know better by now

Dear Fuck-Up,

I am currently in the very shady shitty midst of a divorce. Our marriage ended for a lot of valid reasons (incompatibility, mutual depressions, denial, etc.) that truly don’t have much to do with the following bit of info. My husband had a very (very!) close friendship with a female mutual friend of ours. They’d been friends since childhood (20+ years) and she subsequently became a really good friend of mine in the 10 years of our relationship. BUT in the last eight months of my marriage they engaged in an “emotional affair.” It was very unsubtly inappropriate and disrespectful. The extent of which I may never fully know because, they, obviously, both turned out to be disappointing, dishonest, and shitty people.

He moved in with her (sorry, “rented a room” from her) six weeks after we decided to end our marriage and now three months later is in a public relationship with her. This has been a fully awful and emotionally devastating experience for me. I’ve been heartbroken, angry, humiliated, stressed the fuck out.

My actual question revolves around how I can express my feelings about this devious gash. My husband will pay (a fucking lot) in our divorce settlement, and he has enough self-awareness to know he is a bad man and a miserable shit. His personal shame kind of settles my animosity towards him.

But her! I am a sex positive person who is pro-sex-work and loudly disparages people who attempt to besmirch strippers, porn actors, or prostitutes. YET, all I want to do is call this dumb bitch a stupid whore. Ditsy hoe. Dirty slizz. Etc.

How can I reconcile my feminism with my need to hate on this horrid bitch? Especially since now that I am single af, I am ‘bout to hit up all the dick?

Signed,

Not So Feminist


Dear Feminist,

Let me start by saying I’m very sorry you were betrayed by both your ex and your ex-friend. That is an awful experience and you didn’t deserve it. You have every right to feel hurt.

Now, let me congratulate you on writing what might be my favorite letter in the history of this column. I love everything about it: The fact that your original email addressed me as “Ms. Fuck-Up,” the idea that being sex-positive might require you to feel positive about your husband having sex with someone else, your delightful insistence on disparaging this woman using the language of a neo-noir. Dirty slizz! Devious gash! Just incredible work here all around.

And speaking of the gash, of course you are allowed to hate her, though it’s important to be clear about why. While I think most people would realize you are not taking a position on the dignity of sex workers if you were to call her a stupid whore, there are also plenty of other, more accurate insults available that capture your very legitimate grievance. I would be partial to “that lying cunt” myself, but you are clearly comfortable riffing on a theme and I have every confidence in your ability to come up with a few phrases that express how profoundly she breached your trust.

Can you still be a feminist while taking every opportunity to call another woman a cunt? Yes, absolutely. In fact, we should all get used to that idea before Ivanka runs for president. Feminism doesn’t require you to support every particular woman, because it is a political commitment, not an interpersonal one, and that requirement would be insane. I don’t need to like all women to advocate for the liberation of women. I hate a lot of them! Susan Collins can get fucked, Amy Coney Barrett can go to hell. I hope this awful bitch I worked with years ago can never find jeans that really work on her, and also that she may have unfettered access to abortion services should she need them.

That being said, I would try to keep in mind that between your ex and his new girlfriend, he is the one who broke the bigger promise. I wouldn’t be so quick to let him off the hook.

Love,

A Fuck-Up

Got a question? Email bjensen@jezebel.com.

Brandy Jensen lives in New Orleans with her two dogs.

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DISCUSSION

My understanding is gendered insults are bad because they weaponize existing inequalities, not because you cannot criticize another woman. I can hate and curse out Ivanka all I want without needing to say ‘she’s bad AND she’s a woman’. Just leave the second part out, it doesn’t add anything.

This letter writer’s complaint is a bit different in that the offender being a woman is relevant. When you break it down though, it still reads as ‘she may be dishonest, but what’s really bad is that she’s sexually promiscuous’ and also ‘a woman who has an (emotional, at that) affair, is `loose`’.

Call her the same thing as the husband: ‘a miserable shit’.  That’s sufficient.