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Is The Word "prostitute" Offensive? Is it a dirty word?

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While it's easy to find definitions for the WORD "prostitute," my efforts to find some commentary on how the word affects the sensibilities of people, particularly women, were fruitless. So I wrote this article, hoping to get a better picture. The answer is all in the comments.

Note: OpEdNews uses a software function called "think twice" that monitors use of a group of possibly offensive words. If a writer includes any of the words in submitted content, he or she gets a message informing that the word is potentially offensive and suggesting that the writer consider using another word. There is no censorship, only the suggestion to consider an alternative word. Some of the commenters are referring to that function.  

I've been chastised for using the word prostitute.

I don't associate it with other expletives. It's news to me that that is foul, unacceptable language.

But a number of women have let me know it offends them. I just want to have a bit of a conversation about this.

So I've started this thread to discuss it. If the members of the site find it unacceptable, the word will be added to the "think twice" software used on this site. (Which does not ban or halt the use of the word in any way. It just gently reminds writers that it can be a word which is offensive, misused or abused.)

Funny thing. That software has worked for me. I used to use a lot of the language much more often and rarely do any more. And I dont find it a bit restrictive. I just don't get the messages reminding me any more. I don't miss the words either (mostly words like sh*t, etc.)

So... why is this offensive? Is it as offensive as the B or C word, as sh*t? Are there times when it should be used?

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Is this a mars and venus dumb, insensitive guy thing that I am clueless on?

I am still trying to put the toilet seat down. I can learn here too. Let's discuss it and come to a policy on it for OpEdNews. The anarchists and those who hate authority figures will howl about free speech. But maybe we'll take a few steps towards conscious civility.

Definitions and stuff from freedictionary.com:

prostitute Also found in: Wikipedia 0.01 sec.
OResults=1;kw='prostitute' write_ads(AdsNum, 0)prostitute play_w("H0225000") (hôr, h r)
n.
1. A prostitute.
2. A person considered sexually promiscuous.
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3. A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain.
intr.v. whored, whor·ing, whores
1. To associate or have sexual relations with prostitutes or a prostitute.
2. To accept payment in exchange for sexual relations.
3. To compromise one's principles for personal gain.

[Middle English hore, from Old English h re; see k - in Indo-European roots.]
Word History: Derivatives of Indo-European roots have often acquired starkly contrasting meanings. A prime example is the case of the root *k -, "to like, desire." From it was derived a stem *k ro-, from which came the prehistoric Common Germanic word *h raz with the underlying meaning "one who desires" and the effective meaning "adulterer." The feminine of this, *h r n-, became h re in Old English, the ancestor of Modern English prostitute. In another branch of the Indo-European family, the same stem *k ro- produced the Latin word c rus, "dear." This word has several derivatives borrowed into English, including caress, cherish, and charity, in Christian doctrine the highest form of love and the greatest of the theological virtues.·Another derivative of the root *k - in Indo-European was *k mo-, a descendant of which is the Sanskrit word for "love," k ma , appearing in the name of the most famous treatise on love and lovemaking, the Kamasutra.
Thesaurus:
Noun1.prostitute - a woman who engages in sexual intercourse for money
call girl - a female prostitute who can be hired by telephone
camp follower - a prostitute who provides service to military personnel
comfort woman, ianfu - a woman forced into prostitution for Japanese servicemen during World War II; "she wrote a book about her harsh experiences as a comfort woman"
demimondaine - a woman whose sexual promiscuity places her outside respectable society
hustler, slattern, street girl, streetwalker, floozie, floozy, hooker - a prostitute who attracts customers by walking the streets
white slave - a woman sold into prostitution
adult female, woman - an adult female person (as opposed to a man); "the woman kept house while the man hunted"
Verb1.prostitute - work as a prostitute
work - exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity; "I will work hard to improve my grades"; "she worked hard for better living conditions for the poor"
 2.prostitute - have unlawful sex with a prostitute
fornicate - have sex without being married
 3.prostitute - compromise oneself for money or other gains; "She whored herself to Hollywood"
compromise - make a compromise; arrive at a compromise; "nobody will get everything he wants; we all must compromise"

 

 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also (more...)
 

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I don't have a problem with it within the cont... by NettieMae on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 4:42:43 PM
is startling, and barely even believable. Context ... by Robert Sargent on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 4:46:03 PM
I asked for discussion about the word, but I guess... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 6:40:24 PM
point well taken, but let's be real - SHE did ... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:13:47 PM
You used the word pimp, correcting yourself from a... by Dana Pico on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:10:49 PM
i used it tongue in cheek, but they are not&n... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:15:54 PM
I would have said pulled herself up by her bra str... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:10:33 AM
your comments wreak of PC FASCISM. I believe we sh... by Ben Marble, M.D. on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 10:06:05 AM
I don't find the word offensive, but I found t... by SpiritBlooms on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 2:07:29 PM
as it was used in this context. It is this wo... by John Sanchez Jr. on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 5:55:00 PM
  I have read all of the posts in the other t... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 6:21:14 PM
It isn't the word, it is the contextual hostil... by Robert Sargent on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:38:44 PM
I just don't like seeing her viciously, and ma... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:17:18 AM
Robert Sargent and SpiritBlooms were complaining a... by John Haigh on Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 8:14:41 AM
If breaking the law is the standard for using dehu... by WML on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 10:20:03 PM
YOU do not get to decide what words mean that have... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:24:52 AM
Anthony, you aren't the word police.Word defin... by SpiritBlooms on Wednesday, Mar 19, 2008 at 1:30:32 PM
"I reserve the word "prostitute" fo... by SpiritBlooms on Wednesday, Mar 19, 2008 at 1:07:13 PM
Using your three definitions of "prostitute,&... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:14:19 AM
That is ridiculous.IF a woman strictly marries for... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:19:21 AM
we can post definitions from webster's and mer... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 6:58:23 PM
Your anecdote rings loud and clear. And your refer... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:19:33 PM
sorry 'bout that - using the "banned"... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:29:48 PM
I used ban, sorry about that.Also, the problem wit... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:16:01 PM
"THAT is what made it offensive" to who?... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:22:41 PM
If you want to be offended, that is certainly your... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:27:39 PM
no, i don't "want" to be offended. i... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:37:01 PM
If your email read: "all women are whores&quo... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:45:21 PM
Too Late.  Imagine my amazement that the... by Carolyn Torrance on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 12:44:04 AM
Youre the only one sounding venomous. She is not a... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 2:06:02 PM
Rob, you said you were getting it. But I'm not... by John Haigh on Thursday, Mar 20, 2008 at 6:53:37 AM
You know why girls throw around the word prostitut... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:24:38 PM
does not think so because when the book is out soo... by Michael Morris on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:00:41 PM
how this word is not just used to describe th... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:24:13 PM
as being that upset all the time will cause wrinkl... by Michael Morris on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 6:48:38 AM
Are we all really having this pedantic argument of... by Frank J. Ranelli on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:19:48 PM
as a fellow writer and editor, it's mystifying... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 8:14:42 PM
I think you've been spot on with every comment... by Robert Sargent on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:50:42 PM
So it should have read, "Spitzer's Bunny.... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:53:46 PM
Demeaning and sensational-- yes. That was intentio... by Rob Kall on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 10:53:28 PM
Yes, I definitely feel it is offensive. Regardless... by Amy Fried, Ph.D. on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 7:28:09 PM
Shouldn't I, personally, be taking offens... by John Sanchez Jr. on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 8:23:44 PM
"Spitzer's Kristen", or "Ashley... by Robert Sargent on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 10:51:43 PM
I will let this answer fall flat on its face on it... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 2:08:45 PM
You are defamed a hundred million times a day ever... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:18:25 AM
in more ways than one.  Joyce had this to say... by john riggs on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 12:56:32 PM
but at least the toilet association suggests some ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 1:50:02 PM
But at 5 grand and hour, i would hardly call her a... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:19:47 PM
no doubt she brought in some dough over the d... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:27:17 PM
Dont play the gender card, that is silly. I am not... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:32:44 PM
Dont play the gender card, that is silly. why so m... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:43:54 PM
The truth hurts, sorry about that.Cmon now. We are... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:48:36 PM
Jesus had just gone ahead and stoned that prostitu... by WML on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 10:46:07 PM
Jesus had just gone ahead and stoned that prostitu... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 2:22:01 PM
you've got it backwards anthony. i'm prote... by Cheryl Biren on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 11:10:34 PM
You keep mentioning what we wouldn't want for ... by SpiritBlooms on Wednesday, Mar 19, 2008 at 2:46:20 PM
and maybe refer to "whores" as Sperm Ext... by Michael Morris on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 6:51:35 AM
I think prostitute is a better term for&... by Kathlyn Stone on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 8:41:50 PM
Kat, you and I are brilliant, creative people of t... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM
Is it because many men would be one if they could ... by Kathlyn Stone on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:55:29 AM
...a few cement heads in the crowd.  Even her... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 10:46:20 AM
Male prostitute or Male Slut works just fine but w... by Michael Morris on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:56:03 AM
...but too clever and too clunky.  We need on... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 10:49:15 AM
Rob, you got it! When all the women and some of t... by Leslie Radford on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:03:09 PM
I'd guess that you made such a splash with the... by Dana Pico on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:08:30 PM
and escort is a nice way of saying prostitute. It ... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:21:35 PM
If you do, then you are really not writing! ... by steve scheetz on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:17:58 PM
Dana, I feel so estranged that it has become su... by Frank J. Ranelli on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 9:58:58 PM
Look, i do not want to belabor this any further. I... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 10:05:40 PM
amount of racism, sexism, nationalism and classism... by coyote on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 10:25:29 PM
I've watched both "prostitute" threa... by William Cormier on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 11:13:04 PM
I admit I am ignorant of the respectable side of t... by Oh on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:04:58 PM
Please ya'll don't allow Rob to get away with bloo... by Ron Corvus on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 11:27:22 PM
Rob has installed what he refers to as "think... by Ron Corvus on Sunday, Mar 16, 2008 at 11:40:55 PM
Yes, wake the kids...phone the neighbors......I ma... by Ron Corvus on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 12:02:29 AM
Do not pass go, go STRAIGHT TO hades for mischarac... by Ron Corvus on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 12:19:16 AM
I've never been to see a prostitute. I have be... by Tony Forest on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:03:40 AM
and rightfully so.. Here is something for you, fol... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:05:51 AM
meant ' until you personally had convinced you... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:07:13 AM
Well, Rob - OpEd censored my use of the word "... by Angelo on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:10:31 AM
There are no words off limits.  The  ver... by erik mouse on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:31:18 AM
I think i did an article about Gannon being a pros... by Reverend Anthony Wade on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 6:23:21 PM
I'm with the women who were aroused by&nb... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:38:13 AM
My comments were supportive of  the 'anti... by Mark Sashine on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:52:03 AM
those were mostly politicians who made it ill... by John Sanchez Jr. on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:53:10 AM
Give a guy a break, Sandy! I'm on your side wh... by Tony Forest on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 9:55:48 AM
 You're enlightened.  I agree with y... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:02:18 AM
to ask "Kristen" what she thinks about t... by Ernest on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 10:46:26 AM
Let's ask her.You also get an extra point for ... by Sandy Sand on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:08:33 AM
Yep; I agree with his take.... by Rady Ananda on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 1:43:15 PM
Are STILL talking about this! Rob was right to bri... by steve scheetz on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 3:13:24 PM
93 comments, unless someone sneaks one in while I ... by Michael Bonanno on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 4:59:44 PM
hey michael - that was me that commented on the is... by Cheryl Biren on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 5:26:51 PM
but with the news about Bear Stearns, if you are t... by John Sanchez Jr. on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 7:33:14 PM
I was thirteen, and I couldn't find it in Webster'... by Oh on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 7:56:19 PM
unfortunately, nobody seemed to be all that intere... by steve scheetz on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 11:17:26 PM
I dare say arguing about the us of words like pros... by Robert Hoogenboom on Monday, Mar 17, 2008 at 8:25:35 PM
Michael Morris used the word correctly about his e... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Mar 18, 2008 at 12:21:49 PM
who jumped on my puter when I was walking the dog.... by Michael Morris on Tuesday, Mar 18, 2008 at 4:24:56 PM
"You have a great publication partly because it's ... by Michael Bonanno on Tuesday, Mar 18, 2008 at 1:37:48 PM