“Shameless” implies that there is something to be ashamed of

This story bugs me: it argues that Stormy Daniels is just like Donald Trump in shamelessness. I can agree that her tactics are interesting and she has a good chance of smacking Trump upside the head, but implicit in the story is the idea that she ought to be ashamed, and her refusal puts her in the same plane as Trump. So the story contrasts her with the respectable women who have accused the president of harassment.

Many of the women alleging that Trump victimized them (which Daniels, by the way, does not) have proceeded by insisting on their own respectability: They want nothing from him; they simply spoke up because they’d been harassed or assaulted by a presidential candidate, and they wanted to do the right thing. The Trump campaign’s response was to characterize his accusers as attention-hungry profit-seekers. In one case, he implied that she was too ugly to harass.

OK, but why shouldn’t they have insisted on their respectability? They did nothing wrong. The only thing that prevented them from being effective is the complicity of the media, who have been very willing to downplay women’s concerns. Those characterizations by the Trump campaign should have been a whole big story on their own, and should have brought him down. They weren’t, and they didn’t.

But Stormy Daniels is “different” than other women. She’s shameless.

Stormy Daniels is immune to these attacks. Just as Trump bragged about not paying a dime in taxes — “that makes me smart,” he said during one presidential debate — Daniels is open about her desire to profit. Why wouldn’t she? She says she has a story to sell, and she’s 100 percent open about her desire to sell it. She’s the only person in this story as shameless as the president himself. And the White House is reeling as a result.

It’s a truism at this point that Trump benefited from a tiresome double standard. The reality TV star entered an electoral landscape filled with intelligent and image-conscious suits who understood respectability as the sine qua non of political viability. Trump refused to be respectable. He embraced his image as a corny, narcissistic, overtanned procurer of women’s bodies, and twirled and winked at the mountain of crimes and improprieties he stood accused of. It worked: No single charge could stick for very long. Particularly — and this is the nub — because he didn’t seem to mind. For a scandal to stick to someone, they have to worry about it. Trump may talk endlessly about people “laughing” at the United States, but when it comes to his own image, he has the lifelong rich man’s imperviousness to the opinions of the poor. That has protected him from scandal. His narcissism only extends to those he sees as equals or superiors; everyone else is expendable.

Every point there is correct, but it’s just the bias that bothers me. Daniels is open and honest about her career as a sex worker, and she should be. She has nothing to be ashamed of — she hasn’t lied and swindled and trampled over others (I assume — I suppose she could be the Donald Trump of the porn industry, but I haven’t seen anything to suggest it). To claim that she is shameless implies that she has something to be ashamed of, which assumes that sex work is automatically disgraceful.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a corrupt liar who is doing his damnedest to wreck the country, and is engaged in shameful behavior — he is harming people, and harming the nation, which Daniels is not doing. This is not about shamelessness, it’s about honesty, and in that regard Daniels and Trump are completely different.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Easy. What Stormy Daniels is doing is haram, but being rich and doing what it takes to get richer is halal. If you remember this, you have a future as a Trump-nominated supreme court judge.

  2. says

    America, where making money is the only thing that counts, unless you’re a woman and especially a sex worker.
    I have seen people cheering on McCabe to sign a book deal for his memoirs, but heavens forbid Stormy Daniels does basically the same.

  3. rietpluim says

    To be fair, accepting a silence contract is a bit shameless in my opinion, though allegedly she did not sign it.

  4. RFon says

    Another thing that bugs me is that Daniels is consistently referred to as “Pornstar Stormy Daniels”. It’s not like his other accusers is constantly referred to as “Makeup Artist Jill Harth” or “Restaurant Worker Summer Zervos”. AFAIK she’s no longer an active actress so why not refer to her as “Producer Stormy Daniels” or “Former Republican Senate Candidate” or simply “Actress”.

  5. Ed Seedhouse says

    RFon@19: “AFAIK she’s no longer an active actress”

    I seem to recall that she is parlaying her new found fame into star billing in strip clubs. Which is fine by me and more power to her assuming I am not hallucinating this.

  6. chris61 says

    @3 rietplum

    Actually she did sign it – but he didn’t.

    In any case I read this story differently than PZ did. I didn’t think the author was implying there was anything shameful about Daniels occupation but rather, since she is very upfront about wanting to sell her story, she can’t be dismissed as having undisclosed ulterior motives for her accusation.

  7. vole says

    RFon@4: Until recently we hadn’t heard of Stormy Daniels, on this side of the Pond anyway, so explaining that she’s a porn star is helpful. We have heard of Trump though, so it’s not necessary to call him “Serial Bankrupt Donald Trump” or “Pussygrabber Donald Trump” or “News Faker Donald Trump” or “Narcissistic Sociopath Donald Trump”. Though please feel free to do so if you want to.

  8. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Ms. Clifford has now become a symbol. The left can use her profession to bludgeon Trumplethinskin and his evangelical followers for their hypocrisy. The right can point to her as “typical” of the anti-Trump opposition plaguing the poor Pres. Each side sees her as the perfect truncheon with which to attack their enemies.

    In this sense, she is kind of like Harvey Weinstein as the catalyst that got the “Me Too” movement started. His actions were so egregious that the left had to condemn them, and his politics made him an irresistible target for the right even if they could care less about women. As a result, he took fire from both sides, and the ball started rolling.

    I suspect Ms. Clifford will fare better. She will let people direct whatever vitriol they want at Stormy Daniels while she laughs all the way to the bank. I wish her luck. Surely, she’s suffered enough.

  9. petesh says

    Look, you can trust rich people not to steal because they’ve got plenty of money, right? So you can trust sex workers not to … wait, I’ll come in again.

    [Special note to the bully with the big bucks: Going bankrupt for $20m isn’t that much worse than going bankrupt for $1m, if you have a clear brain.]

  10. randall says

    To me, Trump’s actions are doubly damning. Clifford’s sex work is her profession and livelihood. Regardless of how you view the field, Trump both harassed her and robbed her. Typical.

  11. drew says

    It bothers me that the press keeps using the diminutive “porn star” to describe Clifford. She’s gone past that and is also a director and producer and quite honestly seems to be ready to do something other than porn. And if she weren’t in porn she might be a pretty good role model for women, comparable to Reese Witherspoon for pushing boundaries and being assertive. This new shaming just seems to be more of the same.

  12. lumipuna says

    Another thing that bugs me is that Daniels is consistently referred to as “Pornstar Stormy Daniels”

    Same here. One more thing – just to get me clear on the subtext:

    Are we supposed to assume that Trump actually hired Daniels as a prostitute, and her payment was framed as non-disclosure payment for legal reasons? Is this politically relevant, considering that buying sex is mostly technically illegal in US?

    Then again, sometimes it seems people just expect that someone like Trump would hire prostitutes on a regular basis, and that his “trophy” wife would be well aware of it.

  13. The Student says

    I haven’t kept up with this at all, but does anyone know if Stormy Daniels is saying that their encounters were nonconsensual (or coercive or harassing or boundary pushing) in any way?
    Because for me, if their encounters were entirely consensual (though with Trump this is doubtful), I feel pretty icky about her releasing this information. I don’t see how it’s any different from revenge porn that some men will post online about their exes after they break up to ruin the woman’s life. As morally bankrupt as Trump is for his actions, if this was a consensual encounter he is entitled to the same privacy as everyone else.

  14. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The Student,
    Oh, please! First, it is no different than the tell-all books that actors come out with detailing who they slept with. Second, when you issue a denial, you open yourself up to scrutiny. It’s like Gary Hart telling the media to go ahead and follow him. They did, all the way onto the bridge of “The Monkey Business,” ending his Presidential bid.

    Trumplethinskin has been lying about who he slept with for years. I have no qualms about someone telling the truth about him.

  15. The Student says


    I don’t have a problem with her telling us that she slept with him. But details and photos (I think I heard that this was mentioned in the NDA) are a huge problem to me. Just because I think Trump is a horrible person with no morals does not mean I think that the details of his sexual life and photos of him should be released for everyone to see. *If* those photos were taken with the full consent of both people in them, then it’s a really crappy thing to share those images with others. I can’t hate on Trump for violating consent when photos and detailed descriptions of his sexual life are shared without consent.

    I also think that tell-all books that out sexual relationships of other people without their prior consent are pretty crappy. If I share my body and my sexual preferences with someone I would be very hurt if they were to turn around and share those things with others. Sure, it wouldn’t be illegal, but it would break the trust that I had put into the person and would be a really really crappy thing to do. I hope that if this were to happen to me the people being shown images or told things that I do not want shared would shut the conversation down.

    Again, just because Trump is a horrible person and I hate him doesn’t mean that I think he should be treated in ways that I think are reprehensible when it’s someone else. I have a big problem with revenge porn. And this seems no different to me.

    On the other hand if anything in their relationship was nonconsensual or if he sent images to her without consent, then share away.

  16. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    To me, Trump’s actions are doubly damning. Clifford’s sex work is her profession and livelihood. Regardless of how you view the field, Trump both harassed her and robbed her.

    Her sex work is done in front of the camera. Every report I’ve seen suggests their sex was consensual and never meant to be paid for. So no harassing, and no robbing.

    The real issue here is the Trump camp’s attempts to silence Clifford. But to be honest, this is one of the least egregious things Trump has done.

  17. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Joy Reid of AM Joy on MSNBC made in interesting observation this weekend. Two people who Trump refuses to Tweet about in a derogatory fashion are Putin and Daniels. Given his cowardice, my cynical nature wonders what they both have on him….

  18. numerobis says

    I read this how @chris61 read it. Trump spokespeople keep insinuating or outright saying that the sexual assault accusers are just in it for the money — as a way to insinuate maybe they’re lying or otherwise shameful.

    Daniels has pretty openly said she’s in this for the money. That attack has no purchase on her.

  19. coragyps says

    I just hope there are no videos/photos of Trump in “compromising” poses with Stormy. I have a weak stomach already.

  20. says

    If Stormy Daniels goes into politics, and does a lot of important things, etc., then.. we can expect the same BS as Maya Angelou – a total and complete denial, no matter how often she herself shows no shame, anger, or disgust over her own past sex work, that she ever was a sex worker, or, if it is mentioned, the implication that she did in fact regret it, in denial of all evidence to the contrary. You can’t be a sex worker without being worse scum than Trump, or possibly your average axe murder (who will still get more respect, even while on trial), but, if you ever become really, truly, important, then either it never happened, or you *had to have* regretted it and tried to pretend it never happened.

    There is a whole article on this phenomena on Tits and Sass and how Maya Angelou’s past has been sanitized, as much as possible, even before her death, never mind after.

    For some people, they will always trust Trump over Stormy on this matter, because he is the guy, and she is a sex worker *period*.