the_sun_is_up: Aliciabeth from Claymore succumbing to zombie-ification. (claymore - drowning)
[personal profile] the_sun_is_up
I always feel bad for posting about depressing stuff on this blog. It's bad enough that I had to hear about the depressing stuff, but now I'm inflicting on you guys as well, like passing on a cold virus. But if I don't write about it, then I just end up stewing over it and making myself more angry. Bleh.

Depressing stuff du jour: I stumbled across a 2-year-old news story about a woman who was fired from her elementary school teaching job after she admitted in a Huffington Post op-ed piece that she had spent one year as a sex worker prior to entering the teaching profession. She didn't tell her students about her past as a sex worker. She didn't fill their innocent heads with sordid tales of whore-dom. She just mentioned it in an op-ed piece, and she signed her name to it because she wanted to demonstrate that she was unashamed of her past. As a result, the Mayor of New York City personally requested that she be fired, no other school district would hire her, and a media frenzy ensued that invaded every aspect of her private life.

The really sad thing is, I bet she could have gotten away with admitting her past and even signing her name if she had acted all like "Oh boo hoo, I only did it because I was desperate and I needed to feed my eight starving children but I hated every second of it and boo hoo prostitution is so horrible and I'm such a poor widdle victim." The only reason she got tarred and feathered so badly is because she had the nerve to not be ashamed. She broke society's rules of How Prostitutes Are Supposed To Act, so it didn't matter that she was a great teacher, it didn't matter that she had left sex work behind her and become a "wholesome" law-abiding member of society, it didn't matter that she'd never been convicted of any crime, nope, she's an evil whore and must be kept away from our kids.

I really have no patience for the people hand-wringing over how having an ex-prostitute for a teacher would corrupt kids. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone why that notion is fucking stupid. The only argument that has the least bit of merit is the one saying that she did something illegal, and we shouldn't be encouraging kids to break the law. Like, would you want an ex-con or an ex-drug dealer teaching your kids? Perhaps not. But to that argument, I would reply that illegal =/= immoral. There are plenty of people out there who have done illegal things because they believed the laws were unjust, and there have been plenty of unjust laws in this country's history.

Also, after reading the comments on the Salon article, I have this to say: I am getting extremely fucking sick of hearing people say "You should have known better" to someone who just got screwed over. Maybe it's because it reminds me of rape apologia — "You should have known better than to wear that skimpy outfit!" Because it's easy, isn't it? It's very easy to kick someone when they're down, it's easy to say "Har har, I'm smarter than you" to someone who is already very aware that they did something stupid that has now ruined their lives. But is it stupid? Is idealism now synonymous with stupidity? Does smug cynicism automatically make you smart? Because that's this woman's only crime: she was stupid enough to think that maybe the world was an awesome enough place that she could be honest about her life and not get raked over the coals for it. She was stupid enough to think that she wouldn't lose her whole career because of something completely unrelated to her job performance. She was stupid enough to think that hiding behind embarrassed anonymity was a bad idea because it would send a negative message. She was stupid enough to think that she could help debunk some toxic stereotypes about sex workers. She was stupid enough to think that she could do some good in the world. Yeah, what an idiot, am I right?

I say this as an admittedly very cynical person: You do not fucking sneer at someone because they had the gall to try and change the world for the better. You do not fucking punish someone or blame them for their misfortunes because they had the nerve to say "Hey, maybe the world is actually an okay place!" So to all those people going "What a dumbass, what was she thinking, she should have known how it would turn out": Y'all can just fuck right off.

Stories like this are what make me think that in feminism, prostitution is the last frontier. By which I mean: prostitution is the thing we're still going to be fighting for even after everything else has been fixed; prostitution is the thing that will be the hardest to change people's minds about, even moreso than rape. In the Salon article, the woman herself points out that a lot of the people who were getting up in her face and shaming her were fellow women, many of whom just couldn't understand how she could consider herself a feminist. Prostitution is something that a lot of women, even women who proudly identify as feminists, still consider shameful, wrong, and degrading, and so for a fellow woman to willingly consent to this shameful, wrong, degrading thing is unforgivable. We as a culture might be becoming more open-minded towards women who have sex and enjoy it, but there's something about women who have sex for money and enjoy it and choose that life, rather than being forced into it under tragic circumstances, that really brings out people's viciously Puritanical sides.

I feel I should also mention: After reading several articles on this subject, I did not see anyone mention the men that this woman serviced during her time as a sex worker. Not their names, not where they lived, nothing about their character or their professions. She lost her career and had her personal info smeared all over the internet. The men who hired her, the ones who participated in her illegal and "immoral" activities? No skin off their noses.

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Sing me a bawdy song, make me merry

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