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America is obsessed with sensationalizing her career.
Stormy Daniels continues to be in the news. However, you probably know her best as “porn star Stormy Daniels.” President Donald Trump had an extramarital affair with a porn star Stormy Daniels. Porn star Stormy Daniels is now suing Trump in order to break from a non-disclosure agreement. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders claims the president won an arbitration agreement between himself and, not Daniels, but porn star Stormy Daniels.
It’s safe to say that the reason this alleged affair has received so much attention has just as much to do with it involving the leader of our country as it does with what Daniels does for a living. The American public is mistreating Daniels for being a sex worker—and they aren’t being subtle about it.
Twitter users have slut-shamed Daniels, calling her a “slutty porn star” who’s somehow not as worthy as “the world’s most beautiful and classy women.” Right-wing news sites like Breitbart and Infowars have written off media reports about her by calling them “porn star articles” and “porn star affair fake news,” respectively, in an attempt to discredit Daniels’ claims. Even celebrity news sites like TMZ have focused heavily on Daniels’ adult work for its sensationalist vibe, writing about everything from David Spade’s misogynistic jokes about porn stars to speculation over whether a porn parody will happen around Trump and Daniels.
Daniels’ status as a sex worker has become an obsession. But her career shouldn’t be used for sensationalist news coverage. She deserves respect when it comes to both her case against the president as well as her chosen work, and throwing around the word “porn star” in an attempt to discredit or downplay the validity behind her alleged affair is simply weaponizing her career against her. That’s the kind of behavior that doesn’t just hurt Daniels, but also impacts adult actresses, escorts, and camgirls around the world. It’s the kind of behavior that is often directed at women who are upfront about their sex.
Even though the internet has made sex work much more efficient (and only vaguely safer) for many young women, the stigma against sex workers is alive and well. Amnesty International reports sex workers across the globe face housing discrimination, harassment from law enforcement, poor treatment by medical care professionals, and victim-blaming for sexual assaults. Over on the tech side of sex work, companies like PayPal and Square have continuously targeted sex workers, with many facing sudden account closures due to their trade, according to Engadget. Even Amazon is at war with sex workers, as the company has reportedly deleted camgirls’ wish lists at random.
Discrimination isn’t just institutional for sex workers. It’s also violent. As sex worker Emma Evans explained earlier this week on Twitter, repeatedly focusing on Daniels’ profession for its “shock value” reinforces misogynistic beliefs about women that lead to sex workers facing systemic violence. In short, targeting Daniels, seeing her as some form of “lesser woman,” can cause a chain reaction that gives violent men the justification they need to hurt or kill adult escorts and stars.
“When you use PORN STAR to describe Stormy Daniels it’s not inaccurate, but ask *why* you’re continually using that description,” Evans warns. “Is it for the ‘shock value’ because it’s more salacious than if she were a librarian? That’s stigma, and it gets sex workers killed.”
When you use PORN STAR to describe Stormy Daniels it's not inaccurate, but ask *why* you're continually using that description. Is it for the "shock value" because it's more salacious than if she were a librarian?
That's stigma, and it gets sex workers killed.
— Emma Evans (@TrancewithMe) March 8, 2018
Hey maybe on #InternationalWomensDay we can NOT slut shame Stormy Daniels since she is facing off against the most powerful man in the world and somehow is used as a butt of some shitty joke. Maybe?
— Natalie Grace Alford (@NatalieGABand) March 8, 2018
In a nation where #porn's a multi-BILLION-dollar industry it never ceases 2 amaze me how many of its obvious consumers r quick to #slutshame & dehumanize the actors that provide arguably one of the oldest goods in human civilization. #stormydaniels #sexworkers #nevertrump
— TNEarlyVoting 10/17-11/01 (@DeeIbdulJackson) March 8, 2018
Every time a Twitter user or news outlet hyperfocuses on Daniels’ career as a point of titillation or suspicion, and every time a comedian points and laughs at her career, it’s only reinforcing the belief that sex workers deserve to be shamed, ridiculed, and discriminated against. Daniels deserves better that. She deserves a safer existance, and American sex workers do, too.
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.