Nymph, Nympho, & Ho: The Fear of Women’s Sexuality

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From fairytales to reality, the idea of women with strong sexual appetites has been equated with dysfunction.

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Photo: A R

It can feel like a dangerous declaration...

Nympho… This is the word that my friend so foolishly chose to describe herself and her hyper-sexuality.  Some may consider her the Samantha (Sex & the City) of our friendship: the unashamed sexually active friend that has no issue dragging you along for the ride of reminiscing about her past and present sexual activities.  Despite this fact, the label which she has adorned herself, I completely reject.
Since humans are rarely associated with canned goods, my belief is labels, altogether, should diminish. As a strong advocate for sex myself, this is not the first time this word has been brought to my attention.  Oddly enough, this IS the first time that I decided to explore the root of the derogatory term.

Research

The origin of nympho is rooted from the Greek fairies referred to as “nymphs”.  “The common theme of these folktales was that women’s sexuality equaled scary and women’s chastity was the equivalent to good.”  This is a common theme still seen today.  Nymphs were generally pictured as young, vital, beautiful young women.  Though these women were strongly attractive they lacked the internal qualities that were essential to true human love.The word has progressed into one that still refers to women. Yet, instead of fairies this term pertains to “women that eat, breathe, and live for sex, even dreaming about it”, the word is nympho.

Nymph, Nympho, or Ho

It is funny how the fear of women’s sexuality has been consistent in fairytales to reality. Plenty of men “eat, breathe, and live for sex”, but are referred to as, well, men.  It is what it is expected from them. However, a woman enjoying sex to the point that she dreams about it is uncontrollable, unconstrained, and it causes “serious distress.” The validity behind such arguments is further researched here.

This fairytale word has spawned into a classification. The classification contains two letters that is often used in present times “ho”, add an e. Can we say that the original word of a “hoe” is a pretense from Nympho. No. But we can say there is an odd similarity to the “highly sexual woman that lacks the internal qualities to find love”:  Nymph, Nympho, or Hoe.

Let’s revisit:

  • “A nymph lacks internal qualities to find love”
  • “A nympho has the audacity to sleep, eat, or breathe sex”
  • Or as the popular modern saying goes… “A hoe can’t be turned into a housewife.”

Whatever the relation, each of these words implies a dysfunction or  lack of quality. Sometimes a woman with a strong sexual appetite may simply be, well, a woman.

Adriane Jefferson

is a senior at Indiana University, majoring in Journalism. Her interest is in discussing sex and relationships; focusing on every-day conversations, experiences, and encounters.
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  • Tamara Alston

    I never thought of the label “hoe” in terms of a woman that lacks internal qualities to find love. This is a great example of the double standard of single men being celebrated and single women being viewed as “what's wrong with her???”.