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FIERCE Talk with Kate Lister (Whores of Yore): A History of Slut Shaming

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23 Paul Street

23 Paul Street

London

EC2A 4JU

United Kingdom

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Dr. Kate Lister is a researcher at Leeds Trinity University in historical attitudes to sexuality and sex work. She is the curator of the online project and popular Twitter account @WhoresofYore where she tweets the history of illicit sex and works to promote sex worker rights and challenge stigma around sexuality to over 80,000 followers.

Kate Lister

‘’Tis pity she’s a whore’: A History of ‘Slut Shaming’ with Kate Lister

Germaine Greer once said she would ‘rather be called a whore than a human being’; but, what does the word ‘whore’ actually mean? Where has it come from, and what does someone have to do to earn that particular title? Why was Joan of Arc, who died a virgin, called the ‘French Whore’? And why was Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, attacked as the English Whore’? The revolutionaries called Marie Antoinette the ‘Austrian Whore’; Anne Boleyn was the ‘Great Whore’ and Air America host Randi Rhodes was fired for calling Hillary Clinton a ‘big whore’ during the 2017 American election. Perhaps we think we know perfectly well what we mean should we ever choose to drop the w-bomb, but as this talk will reveal, the word is historically and culturally complex. This simple monosyllable is loaded with over a thousand years of attempting to control and shame women by stigmatising their sexuality. Kate Lister recovers the history and multiple meanings of ‘whore’; beginning with the word’s humble Proto-Indo-European origins, where it simply meant to desire. Kate traces the evolution of the word from ‘one who desires’ to Thomas of Chobham’s thirteenth-century definition of a whore as any woman who has sex outside marriage; to eighteenth-century legal rulings on who could and could not be called a whore, and on to the word’s most immediate association; the sex worker.

Read more about about Kate Lister here.

Our FIERCE Talks change attitudes and change lives. Guided by our founding values of Freedom, Inspiration, Esteem, Respect, Courage and Enjoyment, FIERCE Talks challenge prejudices around female sexuality head-on. Every month we bring you a FIERCE woman to inspire and educate you by sharing her ideas, knowledge and experience on a topic relating to female sexuality. We believe in the power of talking to help women stand together to challenge negative attitudes, and transform the lives of women from all walks of life.
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23 Paul Street

23 Paul Street

London

EC2A 4JU

United Kingdom

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