"You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think." – Dorothy Parker
First, let’s distinguish between the two terms above: let us define a prostitute as a woman who engages in sex for money, and a promiscuous woman as a woman who engages in sex with many partners, for whatever reason. The connotations of the following words sometimes blur the distinction, because many of them are pejorative, and imply that a woman who has many partners is the same as a prostitute.
Some of the words I came up with mean something different if they are said by a man or a woman. One woman calling another a slut, for example, means that the other woman slept with someone the first woman wanted to sleep with. A man calling a woman a slut, on the other hand, means the woman slept with someone besides him. So it goes.
At any rate, here are some of the terms I came up with just while thinking about this, in no particular order. I include my own definitions of the terms:
- Prostitute: See above.
- Whore: A cheesy prostitute.
- Call Girl: A fancy prostitute.
- Hooker: A prostitute who stands in the street.
- Woman of the night: A hooker being referred to in a somewhat Victorian, roundabout way.
- B-Girl: For “bar girl”, a woman (sometimes a prostitute, sometimes not) employed to work men in a bar, generally in foreign (non-US) countries.
- Harlot: A whore by any other name….
- Slut: Maybe a prostitute, maybe just a promiscuous woman, but certainly someone who is being disparaged.
- Tramp: A higher class of slut; maybe just someone suspected of being a slut.
- Libertine: A promiscuous person, but the connotation is one of secret envy on the part of the speaker.
- Wench: A lower-class woman who may or may not be a tramp.
- Bawd: See tramp; archaic.
- Concubine: A one-man call girl.
- Courtesan: A very high-class call girl with a certain panache.
, for example, might have courtesans; France has call girls. America
- Streetwalker: See hooker.
- Trollop: See slut.
As one might expect of our society, I could only think of one and a half words that fit men in similar roles:
- Gigolo: A guy who is supported or paid by women for his company.
- Consort: Used in one context, the equivalent of a male concubine. This is the half word; it can also mean husband, e.g. a Prince Consort (as opposed to a Prince concert…).
The odd thing is that it seems to me that women must have invented most of the disparaging labels for their wayward sisters. I feel this is true because men, at least of my acquaintance, think that promiscuity is good in a woman if it means she’ll sleep with them. As long as they are not married to them, of course. Why would men invent bad terms? Who would they think they were fooling? Nope, it must be women who invented all those nasty terms. Or Puritans. I don’t know any of those. This is okay, because I doubt they would like me very much.
So ladies, ease up on your freer and looser compatriots, please. If you must, think of them as a buffer between you and the ravening hordes of sexually frustrated men who would otherwise despoil you and yours.
And all you sluts, hang in there tough and don’t go changing. And send me emails.