Posts Tagged ‘scarlet letter’

I’m not saying she’s a slut for being a stripper, but…

March 26, 2012

You don’t have to call someone a slut for your words to be considered slut-shaming. Houston Press writer Richard Connelly, who reports about everything from crime to sports, didn’t say the word “slut” in his 600+ expose on Houston Chronicle reporter Sarah Tressler’s moonlighting as a stripper. But his words spoke for themselves, shaming a woman who dared report on the society page by day and strip by night.

So my question is: So what? Is it a scandal that she spent time in high society among the elite, and then took her clothes for the assumed lower class? (I’m sure rich people don’t go to strip clubs or do anything prsumably dirty! NEVER!!!!) I can see that being a surprise to people — it might be more of a cultural shock in Texas, where I think acting “ladylike” is emphasized more than, say, the Midwest.

She’s also an adult who’s got a right to report, teach as a college professor, and strip if she wants to. I like that this reporter — and probably tons of other people — want to make sure her identity stays defined as primarily one of these things. Because once you admit to voluntarily taking your clothes off for money, or having sex on camera for money, etc., then it’s impossible to be anything else. You’ve dropped a rank in societal standards, it’s unthinkable you’d interact with high-class people — but Richard, you’re right, you never said the word “slut.”

You just downgraded her writing as tasteless and highlighted that her co-workers were furious, complaining that she obviously “flaunted” her stripper money by wearing nice clothes and owning designer purses. I know plenty of people at my office who wear nice clothes and have designer bags — should I be mad that they spent their money on these things, or is it only when it’s stripper money that we should be pissed about what people spend with their own cash?

I have a lot of mixed feelings about shaming women who choose to strip, do porn, etc. Especially when they aren’t actively doing those things anymore, but them just being a part of their past limits women’s access to jobs. I remember a while back that a teacher was fired because she had a porn star past; that Sasha Grey was banned from reading books to children as part of a charitable effort. She doesn’t want to have sex in front of a bunch of first graders. She wants to read them a damn book.

Maybe you don’t like Tressler’s writing style — that’s fine. But I think it’s easy to read between the lines of Richard’s piece to see his disdain for her profession — and her — in what to me seems like an attempt at public humiliation (aka slut-shaming) of some sort. From his update — just calling her choices “interesting” — it seems he might’ve ended up more humiliated.