Would You Let A Former Porn Star Read to Your Kids?

BlogHer Original Post

The notion that anyone who has had sex is therefore unfit to be around children is so deeply ingrained in our consciousness that we rarely acknowledge it. But daily it makes itself manifest. An attractive mother who takes care of herself and shows a little too much cleavage is often regarded with derision, her revealing shirt held up as evidence that she is unfit to parent.

Family attorneys around the nation have submitted photos during bloody custody battles showing a mother in thigh highs or a father in leather, and made arguments of their obviously dangerous lifestyles. Heaven forbid if you don't fall into the heteronormative, binary, cookie-cutter relationship, or make your sexual life, however conformist, explicitly known. Heaven forbid you're an adult star or even former adult star and you decide to have children.

What our nervous sideway glances and jeers say is simple: if you let on that you have sex, you're a danger to our children, and possibly to society itself. Never mind if you're a tax-paying, law-abiding, philanthropic citizen otherwise -- the second it becomes known that you have sex or are interested in it, you're immediately labeled unfit.

This is what is happening right now with former porn star Sasha Grey, who quit the adult entertainment industry to focus on mainstream entertainment and has since appeared in the popular television series Entourage. She recently joined the National Education Association's program Read Across America, which combats illiteracy by showing children the joy of the written word through age-appropriate book readings.


Photo by San Jose Library.

On Wednesday, November 2, Grey went to Emerson Elementary School in Compton, California and read Dog Breath by Dav Pikey to first and third graders. According to celebrity gossip site TMZ, parents were horrified to have a former pornographic star read to their children. They contacted the California Parent-Teacher Association, which got in touch with the principal of the school, demanding an explanation.

A representative of the school district denied Grey was among the stars who read to children each year, saying, "We have several celebrities who read to our students each year. The actress you have indicated was not present."

This is technically true: usually, Read Across America is celebrated once a year on Dr. Seuss's birthday in March. During the one-day celebration, stars read to the children of Compton United School District. Previous celebrity guests have included Raven Symone of That's So Raven, Rachelle Lefevre of Twilight: New Moon, Quinton Aaron of The Blind Side, the voice of Spongebob Squarepants Tom Kinney, and many others. Sasha Grey was not present at the usual Read Across America celebration.

But she did read to children at Emerson Elementary with Read Across America, a program she joined because literacy is something she believes is essential.

"Illiteracy contributes to poverty; encouraging children to pick up a book is fundamental," Grey said today in a statement posted on Twitter. The statement went on.

I believe education is a universal right. I committed to this program with the understanding that people would have their own opinions about what I have done, who I am and what I represent.

I am an actor. I am an artist. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a partner. I have a past that some people may not agree with, but it does not define who I am. I will not live in fear of it.

To challenge non-profit education programs is an exercise in futility, counter-productive and anti-educational.

Here is a woman who is contributing her time to get kids excited about reading. But we don't want her help. Even though she is dressed conservatively, even though she won't speak about the adult aspect of her career, even though all she will do is sit and read -- she is dangerous. She is a bad example. She had sex and she did it on camera, and we will never let her forget that.

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture or do you agree that anyone who has participated in adult film is unsuitable to being around children? I don't get it and you're welcome to explain it to me.

AV Flox is the section editor of Love & Sex on BlogHer. You can connect with her on Twitter @avflox, Google Plus +AV Flox, or e-mail her directly at av.flox AT BlogHer.com

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