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I know people don't think about it this way. But there is a peculiar aspect of misogyny in which society polices women professionally, and makes sure, if at all possible, that all women are stuck with the lowest possible, sexual caste they can be associated with.

It all goes back to a form of slut shaming. Keep in mind, you don't actually have to be a slut. You only have to have done something considered slutty by some of your peers.

Case in point: Don't bother becoming a part of the public educational system if you have ever been female and modeled underwear.

If you have ever been female and modeled underwear, then you are too slutty to breathe, much less work in the field of Public Education.

Tiffany Webb, a highly regarded guidance counselor at Murry Bergtraum HS for Business Careers downtown, was fired after 12 years with the Department of Education because photos of her in lingerie and bikinis from her early career as a model are still floating around the Internet. New York Post

Last time I checked, Modeling clothing--even >GASP! underthings! is still considered an honest living.

Webb, now 37, said she posed in seductive undies between age 18 to 20, but stopped modeling several years before she became a city teacher in 1999. She has worked in elementary, middle and high schools.Ibid.
I have seen similar issues arise with Art Teachers. If you paint risque themes, then you also can never teach art, even if you had a successful career for a time.

Ms Webb disclosed this information to the Department of Education and was investigated 3 times, and sent back to work, three times. She was fired just before she was about to receive tenure.

Oh--there it is. Tenure. I guess the sexy underwears gave the school board the perfect out, to avoid yet another employee that would receive tenure.

What about all those party girls in college and in highschool who grow up and become teachers--will we fire them for being teenage sex pots too?

I think what bothers me most about what I see in our public school system, is this false sense of morality. There seems to be a significant contingent of adults in this country, who have convinced themselves that Teachers should be sexless automatoms who have no past, and a very bland future.

To me that sucks the fire and the joy right out of the whole thing. Why do we do that to Teachers? Why do you encourage such spiritual and social mediocrity? If they experience neither highs no lows, how will they ever find a way to pass on genuine wisdom?

Can you imagine if we licensed people before they could become parents? How many of you would pass that test, if we were to be held to the same kind of scrutiny we hold teachers to?

I wouldn't want a Teflon Zen Master teaching my kid the difference between right and wrong. To me, that mentality is far nastier, and slimier than underwear modeling, or even hooking. I should know, I had enough of them as teachers while receiving a primary education.

What is a Teflon Zen Master? Take a look around you. People who believe themselves to be moral, upstanding citizens, who slither out of paying their taxes, who falsify their educational background to get YOUR job, who plagiarized their papers in school, who will cast the first stone at people who "sinned" with them.  Individuals who know all the right people and moves, so that in spite of being total dirtbags, never get caught.

Shades of Bain Capital, very politic, but deeply lacking authentic ethics. That kind mostly appear to follow the letter of the law, while violating the spirit of it on a daily basis. They are technically correct, even if they are wrong on every level that matters. They are just one blindingly white smile away from laughing all the way to success, while the rest of us, clean up their messes.

We would rather have one of those in the classroom, than an underwear model.

Message Received Loud and Clear.

Roger That Fucked Up Masses!

As we place higher education further and further out of reach for the blue collars and the poor, and yet place even more value on it to get any kind of job at all--how do you think young women will pay for the privilege of receiving an education? We can't all deliver pizzas. We can't all be Mary Poppins! There are only so many openings at Star Bucks or the Mall.

What this message says is: If you worked in any job that could be construed as an arm of the sex industry--best hang it up now girlie! Go back to your street corner, there is no exit from that life.

Once again, we are given a sign that American Culture is unforgiving, judgmental and prudishly obsessed with sex.

If I don't care if you are Gay or Straight, then why would I care if you modeled underwear, even sexy lingerie? Should I care then,  if you worked--for example, in a sex-toy shop? You worked. You paid your bills and your taxes--isn't that enough? You had an honest paying job and contributed to the infrastructure of this country like you should--isn't that enough?

Why would this ever be considered a scandal? How many women out there own the same kind of lingerie that this woman modeled? How many moms? How many grandmothers?

How many models out there modeled lingerie or underwear for sears? Would it have been as scandalous had Ms. Webb appeared in lingerie in a Sears Catalog?

And when that student showed up with pictures of Ms Webb from the internet, why didn't the principal ask the kid, "Are you sexually harassing Ms Webb?"

Because that is what this is. This is harassing her professionally with regards to an honest paying job she held 14 years or so ago. To me, this is just another form of slut shaming. And given that this happened in a School District where this form of gender-policing is common--kids even gender police adults. Can we say, "Out of Control?"

Research suggests that for girls, "slut" and its derivatives are among the most common and most feared of possible pejoratives hurled in the high-school social arena, equivalent in regulatory power to the "fag" label for boys. Both "slut" and "fag" tell young people that they are doing their gender "wrong" and that they'd better get in line or suffer the consequences. The virulence of "slut," and the reduction in a girl's cultural capital that accompanies being called a "slut," make clear to all that there is an association between a woman's worth as a human being and her sexual behavior. Abusive naming practices reveal not only the in-group/out-group dynamics (who's hot, who's not) but the cultural value system that situates the named positions within the social hierarchy. In other words, calling a girl a "slut" not only marks her as "undesirable" but simultaneously restates that sexually active women are unwelcome pariahs. Slut, Gender Policing as Bullying Ritual.
I would change a few things. First of all this doesn't stop at highschool. Ms Webb's case, as well as Sandra Fluke's case make it clear that *Slut Shaming is a hazard for all females regardless of age.

Secondly I would insert a few words.

The virulence of "slut," and the reduction in a girl's cultural capital that accompanies being called a "slut," make clear to all that there is an association between a woman's worth as a human being and her [PERCEIVED] sexual behavior.

You may or may not be sexually active at all, much less in a manner your detractors imagine--but that's okay. In the absence of facts, we can just make shit up and that will do just fine.

Was Ms Webb a sexual deviant? Did she do the nasty for money or with skads of men? We don't know. But simply appearing in lingerie online is enough of a departure from "good girl behavior" that it isn't such a stretch to believe [read pretend] she did all that and probably, much, much more.

Social worth for girls becomes less determined by their individual accomplishments in arts, academics or athletics, and increasingly they are evaluated by their success in attracting, maintaining and regulating the attentions of boys in "acceptable" ways. Girls straddle an often unclear line in appearing sexually attractive (desirable) and receptive (thus not "gay") yet unavailable (not "sluts"). Ibid
Social Worth for Women. This kind of branding doesn't end when one graduates high school. It's alive and well, otherwise Webb would have never worried about loosing her job. But you know, we can't have sluts teaching our kids! It doesn't matter that she graduated college, or that her lingerie modeling probably helped pay for that college education, all that matters is she posed in sexy underthings. Stop the presses! Stop her life! Stop using your brain--the sex police are here!
...girls justify openly hostile (mean/bullying) behavior toward their marked peers through moral judgments; breaking the rules of gender and sexuality makes a girl a "bad" person, and she therefore "deserves" the social harassment she receives ("She brought it on herself"). Ibid.
I have no doubt we will see that here on the comment section. There will undoubtedly be people who will see this woman and her online reputation as reason enough to deny her any job at all, much less a job in public education. The slut had it coming! She brought on herself!
Marginalizing young girls with the stigma of "slut" has serious consequences not only for the girl who is marked but for the girls who see what happens to her and fear also being labeled a "slut" and will do anything to avoid it and maintain their "respectability," including silencing their needs, desires, questions, voices, opinions, experiences and burgeoning sexual awareness. Ibid
Yes, we all want that bullet to have someone else's name on it. I wish I could remember where I saw this, but earlier this week I did read a story wherein a lawyer for a woman stated that we should all be very careful about what we do or say online, so that we don't regret it later.

That's code for, be a Teflon Zen Master. Don't do anything that might stick--you know like live, or be passionate, or worst of all, Be Wrong! This is actually true for women and men. But for women the hazard is quite a bit larger, because we are always negotiating those international waters of our sexual Bermuda Triangle of being "Not Sluts"! To which I would reply: It's too late for me! Save yourselves!

Because we all know how thoughtful teenagers are, and how they have amazing powers of long term thinking, and the incredible ability to do things like, considering the consequences of their actions. Oh yea, that will end well.

The author of the Sluts article asks:

Why is it culturally "OK" to harass a woman who demonstrates sexual agency?
Why is it that we are still teaching our children to do this to women? To punish them for finding a way to make a living? Why do we punish women for surviving?  

What lessons will Ms Webb's case teach to the girls and boys who attended her last place of employment? How will her treatment and case, be used to further slut shaming in that district amongst the children and perhaps even the parents and teachers?

I can think of one lesson: If you model sexy underthings, don't bother looking for a job outside of that industry. You made that bed, and now sleep in it forever! For Eternity!

When will we get rid of this dysfunctional, sexual caste system?

When we allow adults to embrace their genuine pasts [whatever that might be, good or bad or ugly] without fear of harassment or retribution, then I predict that we will again, allow true, hard won wisdom to flow into this culture. That this wisdom will replace the dubious charms of the Snake Oil Salesmen and Teflon Zen Masters who are running the show now, and that our culture will be better for it. I just hope this [r]evolution happens in my life time.

I would love to see what our culture would look like, when we get beyond this BS.

Originally posted to GreenMother on Tue Oct 16, 2012 at 07:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sexism and Patriarchy.


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