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Would You Want A Former Hooker Teaching Your Children?

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Posted on September 28 2010 2:00 pm
Follow Cassy on Twitter and read more of her work at CassyFiano.com and Hard Corps Wife.

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Melissa Petro, former hooker

Consider the following scenario. You’re browsing the internet, and you come across an essay from one of your children’s teachers talking about her background as a prostitute. Concerned, you do a little more digging, and you find a video of the teacher talking about her experiences as a stripper, including how she almost got into a lesbian love affair with another stripper. Yet another article written by the teacher talks about selling herself on Craigslist, and complaining that Craigslist took their “adult services” section off of the Web site. How would you react? How would you feel?

Would you want an out-and-proud former stripper and hooker teaching your children?

This is the story of Melissa Petro, an elementary school teacher at PS 70 in the Bronx. Petro has been writing article after article talking about her experiences as a stripper and a prostitute, using her real name and picture. She was allegedly asked by school administrators to stop using her name when writing about her past as a hooker, and to consider using a pseudonym instead. Petro refused, and has been assigned to administrative duties while under suspension as a teacher. Because Petro identifies herself as a feminist, of course this means that the feminazis are howling with outrage.

I found the story first at Feministing, where I was referred to an indignant Anna North at Jezebel, who equated Petro’s former career as a hooker to sexual orientation. Yes, really.

The idea that contact with a sex worker, current or former, might somehow contaminate children — or, the implication goes, turn them into sex workers some day — echoes certain homophobic arguments. How many times have we heard that gay people shouldn’t be around children because they will “recruit” them?

… It would be easy to criticize Petro for being reckless, for revealing information she probably knew could jeopardize her job. But a few years ago — and still, in some places — simply being open about your sexual orientation can get you fired. Most of us would agree that being able to live openly as a gay person is a fundamental right — why doesn’t living openly at the former sex worker deserve the same protection? Obviously, the two aren’t the same — except in so far as they reveal our culture’s deep anxieties about how other people ****. These anxieties could cost Petro her job — and no matter what you think about sex work’s complicated politics, this is unjust.

Bingo, Anna! Being put on suspension for openly admitting to committing a crime multiple times is exactly the same as being fired for being gay! But does she have a point? Is Petro’s suspension somehow unfair or unjust?

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