How To Let Go Of The Shame From Your “Hoe Phase”

It’s hard being a woman, especially by today’s feminist standards, which require most women to act unnaturally masculine and have loveless sex. If you’re experiencing regret over a promiscuous past, here’s what experts recommend to overcome it.

By Olivia Flint4 min read
Pexels/Jini Phm

In 2022, comedian Bridget Phetasy penned a vulnerable article on her Substack titled “I Regret Being A Slut,” where she revealed a promiscuous past. The piece explores an era in her life in which she engaged in many casual sexual experiences with strange men and her regret for allowing so many undeserving men to sleep with her. 

She believes her experiences to be a “cautionary tale” and tells of how she believes that most of the usually drunken encounters she had left her feeling “empty,” “demoralized,” and “worthless.” It’s an honest, heartfelt piece exploring the pain she experienced during this time in her life and how damaging the feminist lie that “loveless sex is empowering” has personally been for her.

Phetasy isn’t alone in feeling this way about going through a “hoe phase.” Not long ago, an Evie reader wrote into our advice column, asking how she can forgive herself for engaging in hookup culture. This is one of our most popular pieces from this particular column, so it may be comforting to know that you aren’t alone if you’re feeling this shame and regret. 

There are many women out there who have made similar mistakes and are going through the exact same thing. Countless women have been failed by feminist ideology and have had to learn the hard way that hookup culture and loveless sex aren’t empowering or healthy – and you’re worth so much more than a one-night stand. So, for all the women who have had to learn the hard way and need to forgive themselves for their sexual past, here’s what a few psychologists and counselors recommend.

Reflect on Why You Had a “Hoe Phase”

There are a variety of reasons why you may have slept around. Were you seeking love and believed you had to have sex with the guy to keep him? Were you using casual sex as a coping mechanism because you felt lonely? Maybe you were only doing it because your friends were doing it too, so you figured it wasn’t a big deal? Or, perhaps it was driven by some kind of trauma you experienced as a child.

“There is likely an underlying and good reason that is not based on just having casual sex” for why you went through a hoe phase, says Ronald Hoang, marriage counselor and family therapist. Once you’ve gained this insight into what motivated your choices, you can dig into the root of the problem as needed, whether on your own or with a licensed therapist. You can then make better decisions going forward and find a healthier way to meet those emotional needs that went unmet in the past.

Understand Why You Feel This Way

We feel shame for a reason when we do something bad for us or others, which is genuinely a good thing (our society begins to crumble when everything is "normalized"). This is why you are feeling the emotion and, ultimately, you don't want to repeat your past mistakes because of it.

Dr. Hannah Yang, licensed psychologist and founder of Balanced Awakening, believes the first step in forgiving yourself for your “hoe phase” is to understand the underlying evolutionary and biological reasons for feeling this kind of shame. “From a simple biological perspective, women have so much more to lose by having sex compared to men. They could easily get stuck pregnant and then with an infant to raise by themselves to adulthood.”

Not so long ago, before the introduction of the birth control pill, unplanned pregnancy was the fate of women who “slept around.” “So think of shame as a built-in protective mechanism for women’s freedom. It’s funny to think about it like that, but evolutionarily speaking, we haven’t had the time to evolve fully into this new reality of effective birth control,” Yang continues.

Be Compassionate

When you’re single and without a partner to share your life with, you may feel a void in your life. So, it’s entirely possible that part of your “hoe phase” was simply to fill an emptiness you felt. With this knowledge, it’s important to be kind to yourself.

“The shame and regret you feel is communicating to you about the way you would like to live your life. They are emotions that are tapping you on the shoulder and saying to you ‘Hey, we don’t want to live that way, do we?’” says Hoang. “The antidote to shame is self-compassion. ... We make good and bad decisions in life, and that’s okay, we’re only human. I imagine you were doing the best you could at that time in your life, with the resources and knowledge you had at the time.”

You may be in a time in your life where you’ve moved past hookup culture, learned more about the differences between men and women, and how loveless sex doesn’t actually serve either gender. With this knowledge, it’s easy to look back and think you could’ve done things differently, but remember, we can only make decisions based on what we know in that specific moment in time.

Stop Calling It a “Hoe Phase” and Accept the Past

Okay, you slept around a little, and many like to refer to this in some very negative terms. But remember, lots of men have promiscuous pasts too. It’s fine to acknowledge that the sexual double standard exists for a biological reason, which is why we’ll never be completely rid of the stigma against women sleeping around, but that doesn’t mean you have to call it that – promiscuous men don’t.

It’s better to reframe it. We all have a past, so your “hoe phase” is just that. It’s your past. Be kinder to yourself by no longer referring to your past in such negative terms to allow yourself to heal and forgive.

“The past is part of the experiences we accumulate throughout our lives, and although there are things we want to change, we will not be able to do so. When we accept the past and do not try to change it, we can live in a calmer way,” says Aura De Los Santos, clinical and educational psychologist. 

Closing Thoughts

The prevalence of hookup culture and the damage it has caused is yet another symptom of feminism’s well-intentioned (but misled) quest for complete equality between the sexes. Even now, many feminists fail to see that it is far more advantageous for women to be choosier than men when it comes to engaging in sex. Yet still, they continue to perpetuate the lie that “it’s just sex.”

Moreso, the red pill/incel sphere is littered with tiny men who love telling women they’re used and worthless if they’ve slept around or are over 25. Don’t listen to them; these men are usually bitter and resentful and effeminate due to their circumstances and possibly a terrible heartbreak. Is it embarrassing that they're taking it out on all women? Yes, but we should extend some grace to them as well. People don't end up with this type of mindset unless they have been deeply hurt. Nevertheless, they are just as wrong as the feminists who continue to say sex can be transactional when they secretly know it’s not true.

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. It's time we bring back redemption arcs. We can learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes and root for our own growth as we extend the same grace to others. Our favorite characters in movies and books aren't perfect beings and it's time we recognize that we aren't either.

Instead, move on just like Bridget Phetasy has – by acknowledging your regret but also by knowing and believing your worth. She writes, “I regret being a slut. I regret it because I regret that those men can say they slept with me. Still, that’s how I know I finally value myself. Every woman should feel this way: Sleeping with me is a privilege. And you have to be worthy.”

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