By: Lisa M. Hayes
It was an invitation I wasn’t sure I wanted to say yes to. When my oldest adult son messaged me and told me Stormy Daniels was going to be in Salem, Oregon and invited us to go I almost said no. It wasn’t the strip club venue that made me think twice. It was the nearly three-hour drive on a Friday evening that almost kept us home.
Stormy Daniels is an enigma. Her alleged affair with now President Trump and all the sorted bits that follow a thing that like that have made her a household name. As one of the most successful women in the adult film industry, Stormy transitioned from actress to producer. She looks exactly like you imagine a porn star would. However, that’s where the stereotypes end.
Stormy Daniels is wicked smart. She’s a businesswoman. She’s a devoted mother. What makes her an enigma is she’s surprisingly relatable. Her interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes was the most watched episode of that show in a decade. While Twitter blew up over whether or not her pupils were dilated and why many women watching the interview were surprised after watching that they liked Stormy Daniels. She’s the kind of woman women don’t want to like.
While the media loved the salacious details of the interview like the spanking with a magazine that dawned his photo on the cover, it wasn’t the spanking that caught my attention. It was this quote:
“I realized exactly what I’d gotten myself into. And I was like, ‘Ugh, here we go,‘” Stormy told Anderson on 60 Minutes, laughing. “And I just felt like maybe — [laughs] it was sort of — I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone’s room alone and I just heard the voice in my head, ‘Well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.’”
Stormy distanced herself intentionally from the #metoo movement saying she wasn’t a victim. If her account is true, it’s hard to characterize what happened as an affair. Unfortunately, a lot of women can tell a similar story of consenting to sex they did not want. When she spoke those words Stormy Daniels admitted a kind of vulnerability that made her more than a pornstar pin-up. It made her one of us – a real woman who made a decision about a man with power he took advantage of.
So, at an odd time in history when a pornstar might be a great American hero for democracy, we decided to make the three-hour drive to go see her. I’m glad we did.
Leading up to the event we had no idea what to expect. We hoped we’d get an opportunity to ask her a few interview questions. Although we knew it was unlikely, my son and I spent days discussing what questions we might ask.
We left our dogs in the capable hands of my husband’s mother who texted and said, “Enjoy Stormy’s talk”. I hoped she would talk. I wanted to hear what she had to say. However, this tour of strip clubs in small and medium markets is called the, “Make America Horny Again” tour. The comedic play on words that echoes Trump’s, “Make America Great Again” slogan, didn’t leave me optimistic that there would be much talking. Frankly, if I were her attorney I wouldn’t want my client giving lectures at strip clubs. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti doesn’t make those kinds of mistakes.
So, when we walked into the club I wasn’t surprised to be in a place where there wasn’t going to be a lecture. What I was surprised by was the makeup of people in the club. It was packed. Parking was in short supply. All four stages had dancers on the poles. Once I got past the awkwardness of getting through the door of the strip club because my son had our tickets, I paused and took it in.
The place was filled with a variety of people. Some looked like the regulars you’d see in a strip club on a Friday night. Many, however, did not. Seated at the table next to us were two women in their nineties, dressed to the nines. One of them told us her son was a pastor. “If he could see me now…” she yelled over the booming music, with a sly smile. The crowd felt like a mix of loud men coming to see a famous pornstar and people you’d see at a campaign event for Bernie Sanders.
My daughter-in-law had a headache. The music was deafeningly loud. We texted each other at the table because it was impossible to have a conversation over the music. My husband and I ordered a drink and we settled in. Word on the street was Stormy would show at 10:30. So, we had more than an hour to soak it all in and there was a lot to soak up.
There is a lot of irony in a moment like that. Strippers, sex workers, in general, are a highly vulnerable group of women. Even the scantily dressed woman tending bar in the outdoor smoking lounge had security guard keeping her company. In some circles, it’s easy to make a case that sex workers embody everything that makes most people uncomfortable about feminine empowerment. However, at the end of the story, this is still about a pornstar who had unwanted consensual sex with a man who would become President – because she “deserved it”. At a time when a pornstar is a patriot just for telling her story the crossroads between sex and the strength of women is an awkward intersection.
Stormy was almost on time. At about 10:40 her promoter took the center stage and gave her intro. Like a rock concert or political rally people rushed for a stage where a twenty dollar bill got you special access. Our two ninety-year-old friends who’d paid for a reserved table were probably unable to even see. As American Woman by Lenny Kravitz boomed Stormy Daniels took the stage and I felt something I didn’t expect to feel in a strip club. I felt patriotic.
These are strange days indeed. While Stormy stripped down to nothing by taking off her red, white, and blue bikini I had no problem throwing money at a stage knowing her legal bills are astronomical right now. The Stormy Daniels legal case is a case that impacts all of us. It’s like a class action suit against the patriarchy.
Her set was shorter than I thought it would be. However, shortly after her set finished a line started forming at the photo booth. We knew for another twenty bucks we’d get a shot to ask our questions. We yelled at each other over the thunderous music trying to decide which question to ask if we only got one. I’d screamed and cheered so loudly I’d lost most of my voice. So we finally agreed my son would ask the question if he got the chance. And then we waited in a very slow moving line for a family photo with a pornstar.
My oldest said he almost teared up seeing her because what she’s doing means so much to him and as odd as that sounds, I got it. Stormy Daniels represents a lot of things, one of which is the porn industry. However, out of all of the women, out of all of the people Donald Trump has used and abused, Stormy Daniels stood up. Her lawsuit has produced a treasure trove of valuable revelations about Trump and his financial dealings. Her attorney is front and center every day running the public relations department of our class action suit against the patriarchy.
When we got to the front of the line we awkwardly yelled with the very large man supervising the process and taking the money to negotiate all four of us being in the family photo. As I approached her, I leaned in and said one thing. “Thank you.”
Stormy Daniels looked at me and said, “You are welcome.”
And there we were, me, my son, the pornstar, my husband, and my daughter-in-law. Our family photo album has some photos for the record books. I’ve got photos of my kids with governors and more than one President. This one will have its own special place with its own special story in those pages.
I bought a “Team Stormy” tank top. She autographed it. As we walked away I thought about how tired she must be and how gracious she was. I wouldn’t want to be Stormy Daniels. However, she seemed like someone I would love to hang out with. I’d love to talk to Stormy about something other than Trump.
As we were headed back outside to the smoking lounge my son excitedly yelled, “Did you hear it? Did you hear the quote?”.
We got a chance to ask one question: “How do you want your daughter and other children to remember this whole thing?”
Stormy Daniels answered it, “I would not be bullied.”
And there is it. It was an answer, a statement, and a guiding map for all of us trying to figure out how to navigate our way through a world with a president that’s a bully, a tyrant, and an abuser.
“I would not be bullied”.
We’re all wading through this thing together. The Trump Presidency is a kind of nightmare most of never thought we’d have to live. There is a special kind of trauma when every day you wake up afraid to check the news for fear our President has driven us to yet another brink that’s terrifying while you slept.
Trump is brash. He’s unpredictable. He’s dangerous. Donald Trump is the face of an abuser and for women who’ve been abused, his presidency is a daily reminder of that abuse. This is a man who bragged by saying, “grab ’em by the pussy” and was elected anyway.
Stormy Daniels didn’t say no in that five-star hotel room that night in 2006. However, at some point, she decided not to be his victim anymore and she’s been saying no ever since. This is a special kind of personal for Stormy Daniels. Her life is on full display in the headlines every single day. The history books won’t tell her story. The tabloids will. She’s paying a price for all of us most will never understand. I will die with a smile on my face if it’s a pornstar that takes this President down. As it’s playing out now it’s not hard to imagine that could happen. Karma can be a bitch.
Stormy Daniels is an unlikely hero. She’s an even more unlikely patriot. Like so many people who’ve found themselves in being forced into places they never expected to save what’s left of our democracy, Stormy isn’t comfortable in that particular spotlight. She recently said she’s never been afraid to take the stage before, but she is now because she’s at her most vulnerable.
However, as Stormy has found her way and her voice in this torrid scandal she’s showing us the way. Yes, he’s the President for now. However, we can still say no. He may be a bully, but we don’t have to be victims.
Even though Stormy Daniels didn’t give a talk at the strip club we’re all hearing her voice loud and clear. We can say no.
No to men who abuse.
No to money that thinks it can buy power.
No to sex we don’t want.
No to bullies that think they can erase our stories.
Just no. We won’t be bullied.
More by Lisa M. Hayes:
Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.
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