Breaking news out of Houston: a freelance writer holds down several jobs.
Writer Richard Connelly–the same genius who brought the world the “Top 10 Hottest Female Sex Offenders” list, so you know he’s a super cool, progressive, thoughtful dude–discovered that Houston Chronicle freelance writer Sarah Tressler also works as a stripper sometimes. On the Houston Press news blog, no I am not even kidding you, it’s on the news blog:
Tressler blogs, Facebooks and tweets about her life as an “angry stripper.” It’s all pretty much what you’d expect — writing in the style that really, really wants to be described as “fearless” and “intelligent” and “funny” and “sexy.”
Whether it lives up to that is a matter of taste, we guess.
Because when we think “tasteful,” what comes to mind is an alt-weekly with the Actual Photo ads in the back, right y’all? Somebody get this man some pearls to clutch! Or is a man wearing pearls tasteless? It’s so hard to know!
The tone of Connelly’s whole piece drips with creeper condescension (“It sounds like a bad rom-com book and movie, which no doubt its author hopes it will be — society reporter for a big-city newspaper by day, stripper by night.”) and the best part is how Connelly–again, the guy who really thought that sexy sex offender list was a fantastic and hilarious idea–goes to great lengths to identify Tressler. He posts her photo twice. Links to her LinkedIn profile where she identifies herself as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston. He appears to have e-mailed most of her bosses at the Chronicle for comment. He did a TX DPS search for her name to find her driver’s license.
You know, just like you’d do if you found out, say, a guy reporter also worked a night job as a bartender somewhere.
Connelly tries to argue, when called out in the comments section, that what he’s doing isn’t at all slut-shaming, even though he appears to be using his job as a reporter to harass a woman for working as a stripper. He writes:
I don’t get the”slut shaming” charge. If you want to be a stripper, fine.
If you want to write for a very conservative, uptight paper — covering the very powerful, very conservative and straitlaced people the paper so desperately works to keep happy and unruffled — fine.
If you want to combine the two, it’s interesting, to say the least.
You know, it’s like how what you say can’t be racist if you don’t use the n-word.
Connelly’s entire post belies the “If you want to be a stripper, fine,” sentence. Obviously it’s not “fine” with Connelly or he wouldn’t have written an entire blog post on this woman, dug up background information on her, posted pictures so everyone could see what she looks like, contacted her bosses to make sure they knew she was a stripper and–here’s the journalism 101 FAIL, guys: posted the whole thing before he had heard from her for comment (or heard from her declining to do so).
What’s wonderful is that Tressler doesn’t really seem to be trying very hard to cover up her “stripper” identity–her @AngryStripper Twitter page lists her name as “Sarahtress.” So no, I don’t think anyone’s going to start confusing Richard Connelly with Sherlock Holmes any time soon, and my guess is that Tressler kind of doesn’t give a fuck whereas Connelly seems to think he’s broken the story of the century.
Of course, the “How can you say I’m slut-shaming this woman just because I am printing wholly irrelevant information about her job as a sex worker on a public blog?” is just about in line with the incredibly asinine backpedaling Connelly did after the hot sex offender list disaster–he wasn’t displaying shockingly bad news judgment by penning a deeply offensive and deeply stupid list meant to operate solely as linkbait, he was doing the public a service!
“I can understand how some people might react to this. On the other hand, it’s a way of getting readers to look at the info, maybe get them to realize there are people out there like this and they all don’t look like the obvious stereotypical pervert.”
See this time, Connelly was just getting people to realize there are people out there who are strippers who also work at newspapers, like Sarah Tressler, STRIPPER who looks LIKE THIS who works AT THE NEWSPAPER that CONNELLY HAS CONTACTED FOR COMMENT in case they didn’t know THEIR REPORTER WORKS AS A STRIPPER SOMETIMES AHEMM.
The fact that Connelly would try to act like there isn’t an element of slut-shaming in what he’s doing is just plain laughable. Strippers titillate. It’s their job. As a result, regardless of whether they sleep with zero or one hundred people, they’re going to be seen as “sluts” or loose women or what-have-you because of the nature of their job. I find it hard to believe that Connelly doesn’t realize that stripping comes with stigma, because without that stigma, it would never have occurred to him to write this piece in the first place, because nobody would give a fuck if she worked as a baker or photographer or landscaper to make extra cash.
How do I know that what Connelly doing is straight-up slut-shaming? Because there’s a way to write the “It’s interesting that you hold down these two jobs” story, and that way is to: contact the person doing the two jobs, set up some time to interview them, find out what their daily life is like, talk with their employers, explore the reasons why someone might do these two jobs, figure out what it means to be This Person one minute and Another Person the next minute, etc. That’s how you write the “this is an interesting juxtaposition” story. That’s what you do if you find it personally or anthropologically interesting that someone leads what seem to you to be two separate lives.
However, if what you want to to do is write gotcha journalism that serves the sole purpose of giving you the opportunity to publicly look down your nose at a woman you kind of want to maybe lose her job because you don’t approve of the way she’s chosen to live her life? I can’t tell you how to do that, but I think Richard Connelly probably could.