Media Slut-Shaming’s In the P-I
posted by March 17 at 11:59 AMon
All weekend, the top post on the P-I’s Big Blog has been a post by Monica Guzman on Ashley Alexandra Dupre, the prostitute at the center of the Eliot Spitzer scandal. It’s… well, there’s just so much wrong with it, I’m going to re-post most of it here and let you read for yourself.
Let’s start wth the headline:
Ashley Alexandre Dupre: His fall is her rise
Um, Monica? Getting two million people to listen to your crappy song online is not a “rise” of the same magnitude as Spitzer’s “fall.” Realistically, she’ll write a tell-all, go on the talk shows, pose for Penthouse, and disappear from history. End of story.
But sure, whatever, go with it.
It’s been very amusing, watching the talking heads discuss Ashley Alexandra Dupre’s future. Barely restraining an eyeroll, they said with disgust the last couple nights what seems shameful to accept: The prostitute who brought New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer down is most likely on her way up.
Shameful? No, what’s shameful is that sentence. What’s shameful is talking about a prostitute as if she’s less than human, as if her profession is somehow inherently… well, take it away, Monica:
Just two days after the New York Times revealed her identity, several Facebook groups have sprouted from Dupre’s sudden infamy.
You might think most of them would point out the shame in her profession…
AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHH!!! The dumb! It burns!
or call her out for her part, however unwitting, in destroying a popular politician. But you’d be wrong.
What I love about this particular framing device—and Guzman is hardly the only writer who’s latched onto it, by any means—is that it completely reverses the usual prostitute-as-faceless-victim narrative. (See, for example, any story ever about crimes committed against prostitutes—the women in those stories never have agency or the ability to take actions on their own; they’re “prostituted” victims of forces beyond their control.) “Destroy” a politician, however, and you’re suddenly the most powerful woman in the world. And the former governor of New York? Why, he has no agency whatsoever.
But oh, does it get better from here.
There are obvious parallels here with Amanda Knox. The instant online reaction to that Seattle student’s alleged involvement in a racy Italian murder last year was voracious, viral and cruel. She was a good girl gone bad. The thrill was in her downfall. Dupre, on the other hand, is a high-priced prostitute. She’s bad already. For the people following her drama, the thrill will be in her rise.
Read that again and you’ll see that—apart from being aggressively moronic—it almost literally makes no sense. Prostitute who gets entwined in a federal investigation=alleged murderer and accomplice to rape. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Apparently, Dupre knows it — and she’s OK with it. Knox took down her Facebook profile and made her MySpace page private in the days after her story broke. But yesterday — yes, yesterday — Dupre created her own Facebook fan page to promote her music (note: As of 1 p.m., the page could no longer be reached on Facebook). Today at 12:30 p.m., Dupre’s page had well over 600 fans.
That dirty slut! Doesn’t she know that what she’s supposed to do is issue an apologetic statement, then go hide under a rock somewhere until everybody forgets about how she single-handedly brought down the governor? For SHAME!
Maybe Dupre will break out of obscurity. Maybe she will get a recording contract, or a book deal, because she was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the right man — and the right audience. Maybe we’ll make her not just infamous, but famous. The real question is, what does that say about us?
Well, nothing very profound: People get famous for dumb reasons all the time. But thanks for playing.