Stormy Daniels stands tall despite stigma imposed on those who make their living in the sex industry

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      This evening, a genuine American celebrity will be on-stage at the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver.

      More than 21 million viewers tuned in to 60 Minutes last year to watch adult film star Stormy Daniels tell her story of her 2006 sexual liaison with Donald Trump.

      She came across as reasonable and straightforward, saying it was consensual even though she wasn't physically attracted to him.

      At the time, she was 27 and he was 60.

      "This is not a 'Me Too'," Daniels told interviewer Anderson Cooper. "I was not a victim. I've never said I was a victim. I think trying to use me to further someone else's agenda does horrible damage to people who are true victims."

      Daniels also claimed that after she agreed to sell her story for US$15,000 to In Touch magazine, Trump threatened a lawsuit.

      That caused the publication to back down.

      The most disturbing aspect of the interview came when Daniels alleged that she was threatened in Las Vegas to keep quiet about the encounter.

      It occurred when she was in a parking lot, about to go to a fitness class, with her infant daughter in the back seat of her vehicle.

      "And a guy walked up on me and said to me 'Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.' And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said 'That's a beautiful little girl. It'd be a shame if something happened to her mom.' And then he was gone," Daniels said.

      That's not the only allegation of intimidation.

      Since the story has gone public, Daniels says she's been on the recieving end of regular death threats and crazy hate mail.

      In the face of this, she continued to speak out about Trump.

      The fact that she's starred in, wrote, and directed some of the biggest-budget porn films in history only led to more abuse and ridicule from the Trump cult.

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      Slut-shaming has been a standard tool used by those who want to discredit Daniels.

      As writer Laura Agustin has pointed out, too many people dismiss the possibility that women make rational choices to work in the sex industry after examining other alternatives.

      Daniels stands out as a woman in the porn industry who took control of her career—so she receives a special form of disparagement.

      A case can be made that this ingrained mindset has resulted in Daniels not being taken as seriously as she should be by the chattering classes.

      She's regularly cited in late-night TV comedians' monologues, but hasn't been called to testify before Congress. Is it because of her chosen occupation?

      The $130,000 payment that she received during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to buy her silence became a major legal issue.

      That's because it was ruled an unreported campaign-finance expense.

      Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was convicted and sentenced to three years in jail. Unlike Daniels, he was invited to testify before top lawmakers in the U.S. 

      Special counsel Robert Mueller's report stated that "there is evidence that could support the inference that the President intended to discourage Cohen from cooperating with the government because Cohen's information would shed adverse light on the President's campaign-period conduct and statements."

      However, Mueller also noted that the investigation "did not establish that when the President fired [FBI director James] Comey, he was considering the possibility that the FBI's investigation would uncover these payments [including one to a former Playboy model] or that the President's intent in firing Comey was otherwise connected to a concern about these matters coming to light." 

      For his part, Cohen testified to Congress on February 27 that Trump had directed him to say that the president "was not knowledgeable" about the payments.

      It's one of several reasons why Democrats are not letting Trump off the hook when he claims that the Mueller report cleared him of obstruction of justice.

      In the face of this, Democrats should be celebrating Daniels as a courageous whistle-blower.

      But they don't want to invite her to any of their rallies because she's a porn star.

      That's why you'll never hear any of the Democratic presidential hopefuls describe her as a role model for other women for speaking truth to power.

      "What does a woman who sells sex accomplish that leads to her being treated as fallen, beyond the pale, incapable of speaking for herself, discountable if she does speak, invisible as a member of society?" Agustin wrote earlier this year. "The answer is she carries a stigma." 

      One way to help erase that stigma would be to go to the Rio Theatre tonight and listen to what Daniels has to say.

      Another way would be to share her comments on social media.

      Stormy Daniels will speak tonight (June 10) at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver.

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