Stormy Daniels for Senate
I have to admit that I've seen relatively little vanilla pornography, so the first I heard of porn star Stormy Daniels is that she may be running for U.S. Senate in 2010. Specifically, as Ms. Daniels is from Louisiana, she would be challenging the incumbent Republican senator David Vitter - one of the cliché right-wing politicians who get caught doing the very things they love to legislate against. In the summer of 2007 news broke that before, during, and after winning a U.S. senate seat by preaching conservative "family values," Vitter was a frequent customer of prostitutes. And he was a fetishist: It's hard now to find a mainstream reputable source from 2007, but some of the prostitutes who had slept with Sen. Vitter disclosed that he liked being forced to wear diapers. Which is how he earned his nickname: Vitter the Shitter.
Now, I firmly believe that Senator Vitter has the right to wear diapers with consenting prostitutes, and that doing so doesn't necessarily compromise his abilities as a senator - any more than my kinks or polyamory compromise my ability to do a desk job during the day, or any more than anybody having vanilla sex with their spouse compromises their ability to do a job. Except that apparently Senator Vitter actually disagrees with me, because after he was caught, he went on the record calling his own behavior, 'a very serious sin.' And he's still voting with the Christian Coalition 100% of the time.
In our culture, it's easy to laugh with disgust at diaper-fetishists. But I'm really disgusted he has claimed that stopping gay marriage is the most important issue in America, and I'm frustrated that the jokes at his expense generally target his fetish and not the hypocrisy of his trademark sexual intolerance.
Enter Stormy Daniels, porn star, and her blitz of interviews in the mainstream media - on MSNBC, on CNN, and even on Fox News, and noted by Rachel Maddow as 'the [challenger] to receive the most press attention thus far.' And no one seems to know how seriously to take her: On the one hand, her campaign is likely getting attention for the sheer novelty, and she doesn't really get defensive when interviewers ask for a reaction to the idea that this is a big joke. But on the other hand, she's getting plenty of real attention. And - in a country where both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse "The Body" Ventura have been elected as governors - novelty, fame, sex appeal obviously count for something.
And, as a sex-positive feminist, I almost love her for parts of her interview with The Daily Beast's Max Blumenthal:
Particularly when she says, as part of what could be an actual U.S. Senate campaign, "I personally have no issues with [Vitter]'s sexual activities or his sexual preferences or whatever it is that he wants to do. My issue with him - I mean, who am I to judge, right? My issue with him is that he's a hypocrite. And, you know, call me what you will, but you can't call me a hypocrite." Or when she suggests the campaign slogan, "Stormy Daniels: Screwing people honestly."
Except - and this is a real problem - she has no political experience of any kind. Which she freely admits in all of these interviews. The fan site that apparently convinced her to run lists her credentials from editing her high school newspaper to her acting role in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Which is not to discount the idea that she may well be a smart woman with good business sense; she comes across in her interviews as reasonably articulate. But the U.S. only has 100 senators out of our entire population, and I would hope that we hold them to higher standards than "reasonably articulate." I generally respect the values and the intelligence of most of my family and friends and fellow writers on this blog, but I don't believe that we're all qualified for the office of Senate.
So, as someone who pragmatically prefers our senators to come with strong leadership resumés, I sincerely hope that this is a publicity stunt and not an actual political campaign. But it's a beautiful publicity stunt. While I wouldn't want her to win, I love her for touring the mainstream media with the message that the honest sex-worker is more ethical than the guy with a 100% rating from the Christian Coalition. I love her for her humility and political-participation-advocacy when she tells The Daily Beast, "If he's so awful that they're trying to get me to run, I think people really need to get out there and vote. And if I can use my name and my image to bring attention to the fact that people need to register to vote, and get people like Vitter out of office..."
....And then my admiration comes to screeching halt with her slogan suggestion, "Stormy Daniels: At Least I Don't Wear a Diaper." Which is such an easy blow to take, which offends so very few people. But is mocking other people's fetishes so acceptable that even a porn star campaigning for senate gets to do it? I don't personally understand the sexual kick of diapers, but it doesn't hurt me. If we're going to take blows at Senator Vitter: Legislating against my civil rights hurts me.
So maybe this political race isn't a story of sexual liberation after all, but rather another example of our culture's wacky bipolar attitude toward sex. We carry the shame that got Vitter elected in the first place, and heap more shame on Vitter for his scandal. But then the media laps at the feet of the traditionally-beautiful big-breasted blond porn star. And we'll never know for sure whether or not Stormy Daniels actually has any good ideas on the issues, because interviewers only ask her about pornography or her opponent's prostitute-habit. Sex sells - and apparently so does shame.