Ever wondered where the word hooker came from? There has been a persistent story linking it to an American Civil War general called ‘Fighting Joe’ Hooker with his female camp followers branded as Hooker’s women or Hookers for short but this theory has been proven to be a folk etymology.
The word hooker has been recorded before the Civil War as early as 1845 and has been defined as a harlot or prostitute. Earlier evidence also suggests that it really comes from a much older British low slang term for a specialist thief who snatches items using a hook. In 1592, a book called The Art of Conny Catching described of such thieves who pulls out any loose linen cloth, apparel, or any household stuff out of a window using a hook.
Etymologically, hooker simply means one who hooks and the term implies that a prostitute is a person who hooks or catches clients in a similar method.
For many the term hooker is derogatory. Escorts are sometimes labelled as hookers, but do they find this term offensive and demeaning? Is it an insult to them?
What do sex workers think of the term “Hookers”?
Escorts have different opinions regarding this matter. For some, the label is all just semantics and don’t mind what others call them – escort, hooker, call girl or prostitute, it’s all the same to them and they don’t really care. But a lot of escorts also would rather be called escorts than hookers. To them there’s a big difference between the two. They think that hookers imply streetwalkers and prostitutes whose job description entails being paid for sex, while an escort is paid to keep someone company. Although sex is usually involved, it’s not always the case as some don’t have sex with a client and just provides an evening of company and nothing more.
Whether the word hooker is a misogynistic term or an acceptable word to use when referring to prostitutes probably depends on what the person being referred to thinks or feels. I personally think that the term escort or prostitute is more polite to use as hooker and anything else seems to be degrading. What about you? What’s your take on this?