Television

Can We Try a Little Sympathy?

We all have a share in the blame when notorious washed-up reality "stars" turn to support themselves with more, um... adult-oriented career opportunities.

Having anything close to sympathy for either Nadya “Octomom” Suleman or Teen Mom-turned-porn star Farrah Abraham these days is sort of like having sympathy for the devil. Actually, I think it would be more popular to stick up for Beelzebub than either of these two just mentioned current favorite media whipping posts.

As far as Nadya and Farrah are concerned, we hate them for everything, for simply existing. Yet for all their faults, and there are many (especially a near tragic inability to plan ahead), both of these women may actually have a much firmer grasp on reality than those of us who have criticized them so severely since they each entered into the popular culture. (For the Octomom, that would have been February 2009 when Suleman gave birth to her octuplets, the final eight of her 14 children.) Because while we may bristle and shudder at the recent “career choices” that these two women have made, we must also concede that--due to their own life choices, and our appraisal of them--they each have few legitimate options open to them.

For all the talk about these women “gettin’ a real job” and supporting themselves and their children…well, sorry, it’s not going to work, even if they did. The old battle cry of “Go flip some burgers!” might sound very Calvinist and hearty but it’s not only not practical for them, in fact, one wonders is it even possible.

More burdened than blessed by their tawdry notoriety, it’s doubtful that any business, from a fast food joint to a doctor’s office to a commercial cleaning company, would be willing to hire either Abraham or Suleman. Their mere presence on the job site and interacting with customers and clients would cause no end of complications, from unwanted press attention to public scrutiny to interoffice conflict.

Furthermore, the majority of positions open to them would only pay them minimum wage or, if they’re really lucky, slightly more than minimum wage. Assuming that they could acquire enough hours to become “full time” employees (which is doubtful, since most companies can’t or won’t pay the benefits that full-time employees are entitled to and hence keep the majority of their workers in a constant state of part-time limbo), their end-of-the-week take home pay would barely (if even) cover their rent let alone their food bills, utilities, and of course the childcare that would necessary so that they could work during the day. (And the childcare cost for Suleman would be epic.)

Given this hard reality what option besides government aid do these women have available to them?

Well, in America, at this time, there is at least one other scenario that’s possible: porn. In need of ample and fast cash, the kind that can’t be made via a job at the local TJ Maxx or behind the register at McDonald’s, means that exploring the world of adult entertainment becomes a necessity for women like Suleman, Abraham and others of their ilk.

As most have read, Teen Mom Abraham just released her first (and last?) adult DVD which features her having intercourse on camera with male porn celebrity James Deen. Last year, “Octomom” Suleman appeared in the adult DVD Octomom Home Alone. She has also made appearances in various strip clubs around the country.

One of the myriad of questions that certainly surrounds these women is not only our lingering hostility against them but also why is it that this is one of the very few routes available to them as far as financial survival, that only by trading on their bodies in pornography can these women even begin to support themselves.

Of course, these sorts of occurrences are not just limited to women. Lest we forget, infamous crime victim John Bobbitt, whose penis was severed by his enraged wife in 1993, eventually turned to porn and briefly working as a “host” in a Nevada brothel, after his “fame” rendered him otherwise unemployable and his legal and medical bills brought him to bankruptcy.

About two years ago now, Salon.com posted an article asking if it wasn’t time to stop punishing and ridiculing the Octomom. Surely, after four or so years of contempt and endless jokes, we have fully extracted our pound of flesh from her, haven’t we? Besides, even if we despise her, her kids (all 14 of them) aren’t to blame for their mother’s bad choices. And those kids--and their everyday needs of food, shelter, clothing, education, and care--aren’t going away.

Granted, it is these two women’s own decisions and choices which thrust them into the public glare and created the financial dire straits that they now seem to be in. But, it was also our ongoing attention to them which has now only compounded their mutual predicaments. If we can’t get rid of them and can’t erase them, then perhaps it’s time we understand them or help them. Or, at least, stop judging them.

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