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Two stories a couple of weeks apart about former porn performers being outed as having once upon a time appeared on video while shagging, and having been outed, been sacked from jobs in schools. One of them was from the USA, the other from Canada. Both are remarkably similar in content.
The more recent one, from the Quebec region, has commentary provided by Amanda Marcotte @ Slate (via The F-Word Blog). Key comment from Ms Marcotte: “I don’t care where you fall on the pro- or anti-sex-work divide, but the double standard for workers and customers galls me to no end. You might want to argue that a sex worker isn’t a good “role model,” but far worse in the role model department is sending the message that sex workers are for using and then throwing away.”
Tera Myers (Tericka Dye), who formerly appeared in pornographic movies under the name of Rikki Andersin, but now has felt compelled to resign from her current role as a teacher in St Louis, Missouri after this fact of her past was discovered by a student.
The only other report that Google News turned up was a blog entry from Babble (“for a new generation of parents”). It is somewhat encouraging that the tone of the Babble piece was given by these extracts:
I’d just like the record of whoever teaches my daughter in the future to be void of any violent crimes and to really love and appreciate that they have the privilege of attempting to turn young minds on to learning each day.
I’m scratching my heard that Tericka Dye, or Tara Myers, will not be in a classroom for the rest of the school year because of activities from 15 years ago.
Now, there’s a number of issues here. Ms Myers described appearing in porn as “the biggest mistake of my life”, and I have no further information about why she said that. It may have nothing to do with the problems of finding other employment after leaving the business. There are plenty of other reasons why an individual might regret such a decision (but not necessarily why everyone would).
But the key point is simply this: there should be no reason why a history in sex work should affect one’s chances of employment in any industry. The fact that it can lose you your job is designed to punish and slut-shame women (and, conceivably, men, although I don’t know off-hand of any stories of men losing their jobs for having been in porn?) for daring to be sexual at any point in their lives. Honestly, if any parent objected to it, I think the appropriate response would be “She’s teaching your kid. That’s proof that you two fucked at some point. So I did it on film, so what?” Although I suspect using the word “fucked” in that context might be considered reason for being sacked even if the past wasn’t!
Even if your feminism is of the anti-porn variety, I would hope that you would want that women who for whatever reason have appeared in porn should be able to leave porn and be secure in a different job instead. In fact, I think it should be explicit in law that firing someone because of their previous employment in any legal industry (which includes porn, particularly in California where Ms Myers did her porn work) should be illegal and grounds for compensation for the sacked employee and punitive penalties against the company. The sources available suggest that Ms Myers was very good at her job as a teacher, and that the fact that once upon a time someone put their cock in her on camera had no effect on her ethical or functional ability to teach and help guide young people through their education. If it takes legislation to force businesses to realise that what you do in your private life or your past has no effect upon your ability to function as an employee, then by all that’s beautiful that’s what we should campaign for.