Like many Americans, I watched Stephanie Clifford (AKA Stormy Daniels) on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night and finally reached the point where I couldn’t keep silent on this any longer. As a person whose physicist dad and Montessori pre-school mom gave her a “porn star” birth name, I have had the porn star joke my entire adult life.
The sneering, “Oh, are you a porn star?” Ha, ha. This joke has been made by everyone from Silicon Valley techies to a lecherous disgraced former congressman. Each time, I sheepishly smile and say that I’m a CPA, or an opinion journalist or a political activist. Of course, these conversations aren’t serious, but the subtextual part of the joke is that porn stars aren’t welcome in polite society but since I only have a porn star name, and am not actually one, I’m OK.
Your president brags about sexually assaulting women, but this woman supporting her daughter legally by providing entertainment to consenting adults, she degrades your discourse?
Well, I’m done accepting the pretext of this bad joke. Think about this: Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who was found to be criminally complicit in the safety violations that killed 29 coal miners, is welcome in polite society and in fact is likely to be nominated by the GOP for U.S. Senate in West Virginia. The Sackler family, whose Purdue Pharma was found guilty of intent to mislead in advertisements to doctors that weaponized OxyContin and led to the needless deaths of more Americans than all our wars of the past 50 years combined — they are welcome in polite society, welcome to name your art museum or medical school.
Bill Clinton, who lied on camera to the American people and was a serial sexual harasser for decades, is welcomed in polite society. But a woman who has sex on camera for your entertainment? She’s beneath you. She’s something to roll your eyes about. Talking about her represents a low in American society. Your president brags about sexually assaulting women, but this woman supporting her daughter legally by providing entertainment to consenting adults, she degrades your discourse?
The sniveling enablers of a president who destroys every norm in American politics, the cowards who can’t stand up to a misogynistic bully who tramples the Constitution, threatens our allies and is a pathological liar — those people are not better than Stephanie Clifford.
I’m so sick of the people sitting on panels and on TV and rolling their eyes as if they are so much better than Stephanie Clifford. You are not better than Stephanie Clifford, or any other person who works for a living in this country and figures out how to make ends meet as best they can. And the sniveling enablers of a president who destroys every norm in American politics, the cowards who can’t stand up to a misogynistic bully who tramples the Constitution, threatens our allies and is a pathological liar — those people are not better than Stephanie Clifford.
They are not even worthy of being compared to her. Stephanie Clifford is a woman who stood up to tell her story on TV, to take on the powerful, the consequences be damned. Stephanie Clifford, who wouldn’t let the epithet “whore” silence her. She’s an example that no matter how many times, or how publicly, you’ve had sex or been a sexual being, you can take your power back and not allow anyone to silence you.
So, because of this “60 Minutes” interview, hopefully Stephanie Clifford’s daughter, once the dust settles, is going to live in a world where there’s less slut-shaming, less ability to degrade women because of their sexuality, and less demonization of porn stars and any other sex workers as brainless victims. Instead, we might see them as people doing the best they can — in fact, people who sometimes take on the powerful in a way that so-called leaders have utterly failed to do.
If that’s not feminist heroism, I don’t know what is.