Chris Farina / Stringer/Getty Images
Karen Fratti
March 26, 2018 8:34 am

It’s easy, and maybe even recommended, to ignore all of the controversy surrounding Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump’s alleged meetings, the alleged cover up, and all of the back and forth about the details of what happened. There are bigger things in this world to worry about than whether or not Trump spent two evenings with a sex worker and tried to cover it up. But we do highly recommend paying some attention to just how perfectly Stormy Daniels refuses to be slut shamed throughout this entire ordeal. It’s really refreshing and something we don’t get a lot of when it comes to reported political “sex scandals.”

Daniels, 39 years old, once told Life & Style magazine back in 2011 that she had two encounters with Donald Trump back in 2006, just after his son Barron was born, which means he was married to Melania. She took a lie detector test at the time to prove she was telling the truth and reportedly has all sorts of information about Trump, like how he doesn’t like sharks (of all things), and pictures of his genitals and other messages from him. She alleges that just days before the 2016, Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid her $130,000 and forced her to sign a non-disclosure agreement to stop talking their meeting. The Trump administration obviously categorically denies every aspect of this story, though Cohen keeps popping up on cable news to refute it, making it only more interesting.

Since then, Daniels has gone back and forth about whether or not the encounters happened or whether she took money. Most recently, she has offered to return the money just to speak openly about her time with Trump and the alleged pay-off. It’s hard to keep up with this story or know what to to think about it for some people. Sophie Gilbert from The Atlantic described the bizarre and particular nature of the Daniels’ situation:

Maybe that will change, soon. Online, Daniels has obviously been attacked by people who deride her for being a sex worker, a gold digger, and an attention “whore.” But she takes them on one by one, refusing to be slut shamed. For example, this week someone tweeted at her, “why don’t you just disappear. No one cares you were a slut and slept with POTUS 12 yrs ago.” Daniels responded:

“Technically I didn’t sleep with the POTUS 12 years ago. There was no sleeping (hehe) and he was just a goofy reality TV star But I digress. People DO care that he lied about it, had me bullied, broke laws to cover it up, etc. And PS…I am NOT going anywhere. xoxoxo.”

Here are some others.

There seem to be one thing some ardent Trump supporters and people who might normally consider themselves have in common: It’s ignoring Stormy Daniels because she works in porn. Not listening to her because she’s a sex worker is pretty much the same thing as calling her “stupid” or a “slut” on Twitter — it comes from the same place of assuming that just because a woman gets paid to have sex or strip she’s up to no good or out for get something in a dishonest way.

Daniels keeps rightfully knocking all of her detractors out of her way. She stays on message, which is is that Trump reportedly try to pay someone off and possibly lied about it, and is still lying about every time he breathes. And the other is that the world seems to be paying a lot more attention to a woman who had a consensual sexual encounter with the now president simply because she’s a “porn star” instead of the women who allege that Trump sexually harassed or assaulted them.

That’s really messed up. In that sense, let’s hope Stormy Daniels keeps talking, since she refuses to have any shame about her line of work and seems to be, at least for now, intent on making sure we don’t forget Trump’s real victims.

She’s not a victim, but a very loud voice pointing out that if Trump is lying about the consensual things he did, than why wouldn’t he be lying about anything else? It speaks to his character, and it matters.

It’s important to not conflate the two things. Our country is so prudish that we’re scandalized by a man allegedly paying for sex (Melania might have been thrilled at this type of outsourcing, if true) or stepping outside of his marriage. If America has to look at pictures of Trump’s genitals, it will be entirely because of some peoples’ need to clutch their pearls about sex work, porn, and non-monogamous relationships. 

Stormy Daniels’ refusal to be slut shamed is the only thing counteracting that right now. The real scandal is not that Donald Trump may or may not have slept with a sex worker. It’s that he’s reportedly lying about it and using money to shut people up, and if he’d hide that, why not use the same bullying and diversion tactics to discredit real victims? In fact, Daniels might even encourage more women to come forward. Instead of ignoring Daniels or writing her off, maybe we should boost her message of standing up for victims and getting real about sex work and slut shaming.

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