Green Room

Would You Want A Former Hooker Teaching Your Children?

posted at 4:44 pm on September 28, 2010 by

Originally posted at David Horowitz’s Newsreal:


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?

Let’s first examine Petro’s thoughts about prostitution. Is she repentant, speaking out to try to help other women from entering into prostitution? Does she talk about prostitution in a negative way? In an informal poll of my readers, most said they would be willing to give her a second chance, depending on what her essays said. Was she advocating for prostitution? Is she recounting her days as a prostitute as a warning for readers? It seemed like that would make all the difference. Most people said that they would have a problem with it if she was promoting prostitution.

With that said, let’s delve into Petro’s writings on prostitution. Here’s one blog post, written in June, acknowledging that her co-workers had begun to Google her.

I recently had the experience at my job of being warned by a colleague that other coworkers have begun Googling me. The concern is that I’m an elementary school teacher (teaching art/creative writing at a public school in the South Bronx) as well as a writer, and my writing– at least that which has been published and is therefore “Google-able”– is primarily about my experiences as a sex worker, which occurred some time prior to my becoming a teacher.

… When I first took a job as stripper, I had no sense that my decision to do so would have any real, far reaching effects on my life. To the contrary, I found in sex work a solution to very nearly all my problems at the time. No longer homesick or lonely, my new job not only remedied the un-belonging I’d experienced as a foreigner, but— as a product of a broken, working-class household, the first in her family to go to college, let alone study abroad– through sex work I discovered in myself a seemingly unending source of power and autonomy relating but not only having to do with my newfound ability to make money, and lots of it, anywhere in the world. And yet, my decision to strip naked for cash was consequential, less for my experiences in that dusty Mexican strip club— which were somewhat benign relative to what one might imagine— and more for “what some might imagine”— for, from that day forward, forever being seen and seeing myself through the lens of stigma attached to being a sex worker.

To sum up, being a hooker was great, except for the fact that there’s an icky reputation that comes with it!! Oh, and she later dismisses the dangers of prostitution as well … because, you know, it’s not dangerous at all! There’s not much chance of getting addicted to drugs, or contracting diseases, or falling victim to violence; dumb prudes just came up with that to make “sex workers” look bad. She also candidly admits to not being ashamed.

Not quite repentant, huh?

There’s also this blog post, where she talks about being a stripper and insinuates that she did far more than just strip for her clients in the private rooms. There’s this video, where she talks about being a stripper, and how she almost became the lesbian lover of a Mexican stripper. Then there was the Huffington Post article in which she criticizes Craigslist for removing the “adult services” section from the Web site. (Yeah, yeah, there’s some human trafficking and exploitation of women and children … who cares, hookers need Craigslist, dammit!!)

I think we can assume that Melissa Petro is not someone who is disowning her experiences as a prostitute. So she should be allowed to work now as a teacher? Is the school justified in suspending her, and perhaps even deciding to fire her?

Most people seem to agree that anyone should be given a second chance. The issue at hand here isn’t necessarily isn’t that she is a former hooker — it’s that the woman won’t shut up about it. She takes a self-righteous tone in her postings, acting like some kind of persecuted hooker-Joan-of-Arc, as if she’s performing some kind of massively important public service in talking about her experiences as a hooker. She makes herself out to be an activist for doing nothing more than yammering on about her experiences as a hooker. There’s no activism in that!

In reality, if she had simply listened to school administrators and used a pseudonym, or, I don’t know, stopped blabbing about it, her job wouldn’t be in jeopardy. She made a choice, and that choice has a consequence. It’s interesting that she brings up freedom of speech. Like most so-called liberals, the meaning of freedom of speech has been distorted. They think it means that they should be allowed to say or do whatever they want with no consequences whatsoever. Freedom of speech does ensure that you can say anything you want … but it doesn’t mean that there are no repercussions for your actions. And while it’s great that Petro has been able to move on and find a healthier lifestyle, it doesn’t change the fact that school administrators have to contend with the fact that one of their teachers is admittedly an unrepentant criminal. Whether prostitution should be legal or not is irrelevant — it’s currently a crime, and Melissa Petro has admitted to committing the crime of prostitution over and over and over again. It may be politically incorrect to admit the obvious, but prostitution is still a crime.

The other issue at play here is, how much say are parents allowed to have over who teaches their children in today’s education system? Several parents stated publicly that they didn’t want Petro teaching their children now. Colleagues were allegedly uncomfortable with her past as well. If parents and administrators at the school decided they weren’t comfortable with her background, shouldn’t that be the only thing that matters? One of the major problems in our education system today is that teachers are virtually un-fireable. It makes perfect sense that some people would expect a person who has hours of unsupervised contact with children to have a certain standard of behavior and morals. Someone who can’t stop talking about their background as an unrepentant hooker doesn’t exactly come across like someone who has a strong moral compass. Had Petro complied with the school’s request to use a pseudonym, or simply had the common sense to let her past go and not publicly and incessantly talk about it, then she wouldn’t be in this situation at all. It’s a bed of her own making, and there’s nothing unfair or unjust about it.

Follow Cassy on Twitter and read more of her work at CassyFiano.com and Hard Corps Wife.

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Well, stripping is legal, and I think prostitution should be legal, but I think the parents have every right to be wary of letting an ex-hooker teach their kids. A similar stigma would likely apply to an ex-porn star, a perfectly legal occupation, but one that people have obvious hang-ups with.

Good Solid B-Plus on September 28, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Simple answer – no. She appears to have not learned the meaning of discretion.

katiejane on September 28, 2010 at 6:47 PM

If she had been a stripper back in the day, decided to move on to better things, and went to school to be a teacher and put her past behind her, I’d have no problem with it. My grandmother was an exotic dancer when she was younger, a bar tender in middle age, and a grey-haired church lady in charge of Bible study when I was growing up. People change.

This woman sounds like she misses the attention she got as a sex worker, and is seeking notoriety at the expense of her employers, school, and students. I have a problem with that.

Anna on September 28, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Well, she was only a hooker. It’s not like she did anything really evil, like join the military.

malclave on September 28, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Strippers and prostitutes are both, by definition, capitalists, which puts them far above the Marxists and Socialists that predominate the educational system now.

turfmann on September 28, 2010 at 7:33 PM

At least she understands capitalism. More than what I can say for the dregs of humanity that teach Ivy league.

Kataklysmic on September 28, 2010 at 8:11 PM

Depends on what she’s teaching.

Bow-chicka-bow-wow.

Merovign on September 28, 2010 at 8:18 PM

Teachers have a significant effect on children, frequently being idealized by children, and this woman is portraying dangerous conduct in a positive light. I have heard several times from my nieces that they wanted to be a history teacher, or get into media because that’s what their favorite teacher did.

There is not a chance in hell my kid would have ever been in her classroom.

sharrukin on September 28, 2010 at 8:55 PM

Strippers and prostitutes are both, by definition, capitalists, which puts them far above the Marxists and Socialists that predominate the educational system now.

turfmann on September 28, 2010 at 7:33 PM

You & Kataklysmic are fools who think economic theory is the most important thing in life. This pervert would put children at risk if she had her way. It’s a travesty that she’s not in prison, & you’re elevating her for economic skills.
Your logic is off as well. Is Obama a socialist? He’s sold a lot of books & made a lot of money.

itsnotaboutme on September 28, 2010 at 9:02 PM

If it were five years or more in the past, and she used a pseudonym — okay.

As it is — hell no!

tigerinexile on September 28, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Strippers and prostitutes are both, by definition, capitalists, which puts them far above the Marxists and Socialists that predominate the educational system now.

turfmann on September 28, 2010 at 7:33 PM

Slavers and drug dealers are also capitalists, shall we put them in the classroom?

If that worthless whore had even just kept her filthy mouth shut about her former ‘profession’ and stuck to her job like superglue, I wouldn’t object. Society can’t hold grudges forever against those wanting a way out of the gutter and an honest job, but neither should we be blind to bad influences.

Dark-Star on September 28, 2010 at 10:02 PM

itsnotaboutme on September 28, 2010 at 9:02 PM

My friend, if you thought my coment was serious and not a lame attempt at humor, you have got some serious issues…

Kataklysmic on September 28, 2010 at 10:14 PM

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.

What do you have against the moneysacks-uals? [/sarc]

Blacksmith on September 29, 2010 at 12:29 AM

There’s not much chance of getting addicted to drugs, or contracting diseases, or falling victim to violence; dumb prudes just came up with that to make “sex workers” look bad.

The chances of all of these outcomes are greatly increased by making prostitution illegal. This is a post hoc/causation logical fallacy. Keeping drugs and guns illegal means that only criminals use them but they are not causing the illegality. So, yes, prudishness causes prostitution to go underground and increases the chance that criminal elements will be connected to it.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 12:40 AM

The issue at hand here isn’t necessarily isn’t that she is a former hooker — it’s that the woman won’t shut up about it.

This is the problem. I have no problem with prostitution because it is a victim-less crime. However, we should have a very high standard of behavior for the teachers of children because we rightly place importance of maintaining the innocence of children.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 12:43 AM

It may be politically incorrect to admit the obvious, but prostitution is still a crime.

Not politically incorrect but deeply embarrassing to anyone who considers themselves a defender of liberty.

Let’s be clear about one thing. Women do not like prostitutes because prostitutes sell companionship much more cheaply than non-prostitutes. All human societies that are based on two parent families are more stable and prosperous and the reason is that men have surplus labor that they trade for access to a woman’s reproductive abilities. Societies in which only the top 40% of men reproduce, think Saudi Arabia and pre-history, have a lot of men sitting around doing nothing. Men have no incentive to work hard if they do not have a family to support.

Prostitution works against women in that some men will chose not to start a family. Society will lose their surplus labor. On the other hand, the government acting as father produces the same outcome. Taking money from others and giving it to single mothers encourages single motherhood and it leaves a lot of men out in the cold.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 12:57 AM

Women exercise power over men because of their looks. Men are attracted to beauty. Women are attracted to more subtle markers of status in men. Women have a lot more power today because they don’t just need to be beautiful to have a decent life. They can have their own careers and make their own way without a man. I think that is good because I am for individual freedom even thought there is a good argument that this freedom has resulted in the weakening of the family and all the disastrous consequences. But a lot of women do not want to give men the same freedom. Keeping prostitution illegal is one way to control men’s access to women. Another is using the gov’t to weaken a man’s access to his children.

I wish that majority of conservative women were intellectually honest about the fact that the majority of men in this country want women to enjoy the same opportunities but that the majority of women still cling to old fashioned mores simply because they want to maintain the power that they afford.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 1:07 AM

The chances of all of these outcomes are greatly increased by making prostitution illegal. This is a post hoc/causation logical fallacy. Keeping drugs and guns illegal means that only criminals use them but they are not causing the illegality. So, yes, prudishness causes prostitution to go underground and increases the chance that criminal elements will be connected to it.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 12:40 AM

Homosexual promiscuity causes drug addiction, higher chances to contract a disease, and an elevated chance of falling victim to violence.

It’s also legal.

Heterosexual promiscuity? Also legal, same though lesser problems.

You’re full of it.

sharrukin on September 29, 2010 at 1:07 AM

Women exercise power over men because of their looks. Men are attracted to beauty.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 1:07 AM

I guess it’s pretty obvious why her prostitution career didn’t pan out, then, isn’t it?

[/sorrycouldntresist]

Cylor on September 29, 2010 at 1:17 AM

Homosexual promiscuity causes drug addiction…
sharrukin on September 29, 2010 at 1:07 AM

You are saying that there is a causal relationship between homosexual promiscuity and drug addiction? I would love to see the source for that assertion.

Back to my point. Making prostitution illegal means that we don’t regulate it. Compare legal prostitution to illegal when it comes to incidences of drug addiction, disease, criminal behavior and you will see that it is the criminalization of prostitution which is the catalyst for its pathologies.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Cylor on September 29, 2010 at 1:17 AM

I’d give her a 4 but with make up she might get to a 6. There are a lot of men 4 and lower. Just saying.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 10:37 AM

Back to your question, Cassy: NO. A former hooker who advocates prostitution should not teach children. Not unless parents want their daughters to become prostitutes. Former heroin peddlers who advocate dealing shouldn’t teach children either, nor former robbers who still advocate robbery.

This would apply even in Pahrump, Nevada where prostitution is legal. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean parents want their children taught by prostitutes.

Throughout almost all of history, in every society that I know of, teachers who teach children have been required to maintain a certain level of moral reputation. The standards in the US prior to the ’60s were quite stringent. There’s a reason for that.

Exit questions: As Ms. Petro still advocates this lifestyle, do you think she still hooks on the side? If she taught in a high school in Pahrump and one of her students were 18 and had some cash to spare, would it be OK for her to ply her avocation with the student body? And maybe post the affair on Youtube?

theCork on September 29, 2010 at 11:12 AM

Anna on September 28, 2010 at 6:50 PM

My thoughts exactly. In fact, she did break the law, admittedly. Is the statue of limitations up on all of those violations? Maybe this shouldn’t even be the school’s problem.

Esthier on September 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM

I have no problem with prostitution because it is a victim-less crime.
Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 12:43 AM

I would love to see the source for that assertion.
Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Oddly enough, some former and current prostitutes think that it is a victim-full crime. But I question your moral vision if you can not see any victims in it.

AnotherOpinion on September 29, 2010 at 7:19 PM

This woman is afflicted with weapons grade stupidity.

She succeeded in her career as a prostitute as evidenced by the fact that she was never caught. Had she been caught, her record would have prevented her from ever being licensed as a teacher. So, she got away with it, and could look forward to a life babysitting the children of losers who are foolish enough to live in the South Bronx. Not the best life to be sure, but still better than spending her days flat on her back with her ankles in the air, or on her knees behind a convenience store gobbling some stranger’s cockasaurus.

So what does this mensa member do? She brags about it to all the world. That to me is a FAR greater reason to keep her away from kids than her past career as a professional cum bucket. Anyone that intellectually impaired needs a babysitter of her own.

leereyno on September 29, 2010 at 10:57 PM

Oddly enough, some former and current prostitutes think that it is a victim-full crime. But I question your moral vision if you can not see any victims in it.

AnotherOpinion on September 29, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Anyone woman who is forced into prostitution by threat of violence is a victim. No doubt about that. But anyone who chooses to be a prostitute of their own free will is not. It is the liberals who promote the idea that free will is not really free. That people are fooled into making decisions rather than just choosing the wrong path. I question whether you are conservative if you think that someone should be absolved of their choices by claiming they were “forced” into any career.

Go back to watching Oprah.

Bill C on September 29, 2010 at 10:58 PM

It is the liberals who promote the idea that free will is not really free. That people are fooled into making decisions rather than just choosing the wrong path.

Character is destiny. Winners win, losers lose. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It is the players, not the playing field, that determines the outcome. Fortune favors the competent.

leereyno on September 29, 2010 at 11:33 PM

You & Kataklysmic are fools who think economic theory is the most important thing in life.

Thank you for putting words in my mouth. Amazing how you can see clear through me by reading a single paragraph. Would you care to buy a slightly used fool’s cap cheap?

This pervert would put children at risk if she had her way. It’s a travesty that she’s not in prison, & you’re elevating her for economic skills.

More to the point, it is a travesty what has happened to the public schools in the last fifty years under the influence of high-minded utopian administrators aided and abetted by thuggish teacher’s unions. This woman’s sins are her own to bear and her suitability as a teacher does not change the clear reality that there is a fundamental problem with this enormous money pit of liberal indoctrination we call public education.

Your logic is off as well. Is Obama a socialist? He’s sold a lot of books & made a lot of money.

itsnotaboutme on September 28, 2010 at 9:02 PM

I’m sorry, how is it that my logic is off? I didn’t mention Obama, although he is clearly and demonstrably a socialist; as to his very successful books (whoever wrote them) making him a millionaire many times over, that would make him a hypocrite not a capitalist.

Thanks for playing. Come again soon.

turfmann on October 1, 2010 at 9:53 AM