Author: has written 39 posts for this blog.

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106 Responses

  1. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 11, 2008 at 6:12 pm |

    I remember reading about her in Rolling Stone. It just made me so outraged on her behalf.

  2. abby jean
    abby jean March 11, 2008 at 6:23 pm |

    Thanks for this post – it was beautiful. I’ve been struggling with this “bait and switch” feeling too – the way that young girls and women are encouraged to be sexy and sexual, the huge amounts of cash that can come from jobs or activities along the spectrum of sex work, the way that I sometimes feel like I have no worth aside from my body and sexuality. And then that’s contrasted with the disgust and condemnation mainstream society exhibits towards actual sex workers.

    We will taunt you for your virginity, mock your purity, give you huge cultural incentives to buy into the woman-as-sexual-object framework – and then we will punish you for it. And you can never, ever, go back. It makes me wonder what kind of support Kristen from the Spitzer brouhaha is getting right now.

    Anyway, thanks. I’m glad to see Shannon remembered and honored and glad to remember her myself.

  3. Christine
    Christine March 11, 2008 at 6:26 pm |

    This touched me very deeply. Thanks.

  4. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte March 11, 2008 at 7:06 pm |

    Reading that thread about Spitzer at my blog and then reading this.

    Yeah. I’m tearing up.

  5. Iamcuriousblue
    Iamcuriousblue March 11, 2008 at 7:37 pm |

    “Sex objects, objects of curiosity, objects of scorn. “

    Or objects of pity and moral example by oh-so-righteous feminists. Plenty of that kind of objectification to go around, too.

  6. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie March 11, 2008 at 8:03 pm |

    Porn, glorious porn. So empowerfulling.

  7. Antigone
    Antigone March 11, 2008 at 8:24 pm |

    I think she got the pity because she was a suicide victim, not because she slept around. For fucks sake, don’t you feel any pity for a dead woman?

  8. Cara
    Cara March 11, 2008 at 8:26 pm |

    I read this, and found myself liking and appreciating Pauly Shore. Then I realized how very pathetic that is and how low our standards are for men, particularly the womanizing kind, when any display of humanity on their part is somehow seen as noble.

  9. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID March 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm |

    IACB, the “moral example” was my condemnation of the men who partied with her, had sex with her, and were seen in public with her when she was popular but couldn’t be bothered to help her when she was down or pay their respects when she died. Vince Neal’s career goes to hell and his friends get him into rehab. Shannon Wilsey kills herself and nobody shows up for the funeral.

  10. Hattie
    Hattie March 11, 2008 at 9:45 pm |

    It is so sad. All of it. Your posting touched me deeply.

  11. Sniper
    Sniper March 11, 2008 at 10:02 pm |

    That poor, desperate young woman. She must have felt so cornered and alone.

    Probably a dumbass question, but is there an association that helps sex workers? Some place where one can make a contribution? They have so little legal and societal protection.

  12. Foxfire
    Foxfire March 11, 2008 at 10:16 pm |

    Thank you so much for your post. I will echo what others have said, what you wrote was beautiful in a sad way. I hope that our society changes in such a way that no woman will ever have to feel that desperate again. To paraphrase Lennon, you may say that I’m a dreamer, but I now know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  13. Sniper
    Sniper March 11, 2008 at 10:19 pm |

    Thanks, Amanda!

  14. Three Dollar Bill
    Three Dollar Bill March 11, 2008 at 11:05 pm |

    I feel very sorry for her and the downward spiral of her life. And I agree, very strongly, about the lures and empty promises of the easy-casual-fun-sex-porno lifestyle. It destroys the lives of men and women both, but women certainly have it harder; they’re the ones who get used and used up.

    But I’m not sure why you expect the people she had casual sex with to suddenly decide that this act created a bond and a commitment to Ms. Wilsey. We have words for the kind of relationship that creates such a bond; love, marriage, relationship, partnership, etc. Not that she needed to marry Pauly Shore in order to be a worthy human being, but were any of the men and women she slept with promising her more than a night of fun? From what I can see, they weren’t.

    Shore’s no great hero, here; he did what a decent human being would do, went to the funeral of his ex-gf. Was she an ex-gf of the other celebrities being condemned? Or a person with whom they had casual sex? If the latter, then any legitimately targeted condemnation would seem to be of the casual sex culture, rather than of the people who simply followed its precepts.

  15. Rebecca
    Rebecca March 11, 2008 at 11:07 pm |

    As someone who has lost friends to suicide, I must say, your post touched a couple of my buttons. I’ve written several rants and foamed at the mouth and stomped around for a while and then calmed down enough to say this: don’t blame the survivors, we already blame ourselves.

    I’m also someone who has come within a hairsbreath of committing suicide myself and I have to say: it was my choice, not anyone else’s.

    Everyone has their own reasons for going through with it and everyone has their reasons for stopping at the last minute. Some try to ask for help and some cannot bring themselves to show that much vulnerability. I was one of the latter, no one knew how dark the place was that I had found myself because I could not bring myself to talk about it. When a good friend recently found out, she was honestly shocked and never had a clue.

    It wasn’t the fault of the porn industry or all of Shannon’s lovers or even bad luck, fate or karma. It was Shannon’s choice and she made it.

    If nothing else, respect that and let her rest in peace.

  16. Iamcuriousblue
    Iamcuriousblue March 12, 2008 at 1:40 am |

    Thomas writes:

    IACB, the “moral example” was my condemnation of the men who partied with her, had sex with her, and were seen in public with her when she was popular but couldn’t be bothered to help her when she was down or pay their respects when she died. Vince Neal’s career goes to hell and his friends get him into rehab. Shannon Wilsey kills herself and nobody shows up for the funeral.

    Well, I agree with you when it comes to the part about the celebrity “friends” and “lovers” who had no time for her when she was in need, or even could be bothered to acknowledge her in death. However, I’m not so sure if “nobody” cared about her death – her suicide affected a lot of people in the porn industry, particularly porn actors (of both genders) pretty deeply, and the only reason more of them didn’t turn up for her funeral was because Wilsey’s family deliberately excluded all but a few from attendance.

    And as for “moral example” and “object of pity”, yeah, there is more than a little bit of a moralistic tone in this discussion that implies she self-objectification or misguided hedonism or some kind of porn-induced mental illness led to her untimely end. And obviously, she had some kind of pretty deep issues going on for her to have shot herself.

    At the same time, I’m not so ready to write her whole off as just a passive victim of male objectification. I think the transformation of Shannon Wilsey into Savannah was based on some very deliberate choices on her part, first as celebrity groupie, then as a porn star. She was somebody who had a great deal of sexual charisma and had a lot of her identity tied up in that, perhaps too much ultimately, but she was who she was. I don’t think she would have been a better or happier person if she had tried to be, say, an extra-crunchy women’s studies student.

    Generally speaking, I think feminism has a long way to go in showing real solidarity toward sex workers, rather than pity, or worse, contempt. But thats simply a truism that’s already been written about elsewhere.

  17. Natalia
    Natalia March 12, 2008 at 6:01 am |

    That was a very beautiful, moving post, Thomas. You’re right to call out Wilsey’s former boyfriends on their apathy. And yes, Pauly Shore does emerge as decent guy in this respect, and hell, there is nothing wrong with pointing that out either.

    There are a lot of people who lose the battle with depression. I am pretty young, and already know a depressingly high number of people who chose to exit this way. I have not attended all of their funerals.

    A lot of times, there may be family issues that get in the way of things. Sometimes, you know that going to the funeral might cause a scene and make it even harder on everyone. So, you stay away.

    Who knows, maybe that’s what Slash was thinking too. Or else, he just didn’t give a damn. Or maybe he was somewhere in-between on the issue.

    I think you’re right on the money when you say that society still believes that “the wages of sin” thing should only apply to women. You see it over and over again in the abortion debate, for example. Slut’s going to die if she gets a back-alley procedure? Slut had it coming!

    And yet, it’s also important for us to remember that, as Rebecca already pointed out, suicide always comes down to choice. Did being in the porn industry influence Shannon’s choice? I don’t know. It is true that people in the porn industry are derided, seen as less than human, or, even worse, patronized and patted on the head and pitied in the most humiliating ways imaginable. It’s tough enough to be in that business, but if you’re having psychological problems on top of that, you may not find the help that you need. At best, you might be “rescued” like a dog from a shelter.

    Who knows what kind of help Shannon Wilsey needed (you’re right to point out the money thing, but that’s usually a temporary fix, imho)? Who knows if she would have even responded to an offer of help? Some people will push you away even if your motives are pure, and it takes a lot of patience and understanding to get through to them. Sometimes, I might say, it take a miracle. There are a lot of questions that your post has raised for me, but the answers ultimately don’t matter.

    All that matters is that a young woman lost her life, and, in a typical fashion, many people thought she had it coming, and that this sort of thing is “OK,” really, because she’s just a “whore,” you know. How many more times will the scenario repeat itself before we learn something? I don’t know the answer to that either.

  18. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID March 12, 2008 at 7:19 am |

    IACB and 3db, she was pregnant by Greg Allman at, what, 16? And she lived with him before that, so she was his underage live-in girlfriend.

    IACB, this is not one you can victim-blame your way out of. I note that porn industry people do the same thing with Traci Lords … who started making porn at 15. Fifteen. Jenna Mazzoli (Jameson) auditioned as a stripper at 13, was told she was too young, and just snapped the braces off her teeth with pliers and went back.

    Also, I’m not an opponent of casual sex, but she was a friend and scenester in the LA rock clubs. That, much more than having sex with them, entitles her in my view to a public show of support when she died. LA hard-rock bands then were at the height of their popularity; they all knew her well. Where were they?

  19. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 8:17 am |

    I know 10,000 of these types of stories and they never fail to rip holes in my heart.

    Well done piece, Thomas, on complex and difficult subjects.

    That is a piece of information about Shore that certainly changes some assumptions.

  20. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 8:25 am |

    I don’t think she would have been a better or happier person if she had tried to be, say, an extra-crunchy women’s studies student

    Faux ally.

  21. Natalia
    Natalia March 12, 2008 at 8:57 am |

    My previous comment is stuck in moderation, but I just want to say – Betty, I don’t agree at all with your characterization of the previous comment.

    Ideology has little impact on whether or not a person will put that gun against their own head and pull the trigger. Pornography is problematic insofar as greater society sees nothing wrong with a depressed, falling-apart actress – it all seems “part of the job,” when, of course, it shouldn’t be.

    Being, say an extra-crunchy women’s studies student can actually work against you too – someone I knew through an informal support group back in college was a young woman who had tried to take her own life. She was an outspoken feminist, and a student leader who was headed for a great future, but she also had serious depression. When she was at her worst, no one realized how grave the situation was, after all, she was so “strong” and so “outgoing.” Her friends assumed she wouldn’t want help. They hung back, though the warning signs were all there. Then she drove home for the weekend and slit her wrists.

    I don’t blame her friends, I just don’t think it’s right to assume who is going to be happy and well adjusted and who is not. Because that’s how we end up losing even more people.

  22. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 9:32 am |

    I don’t agree at all with your characterization of the previous comment.

    If the editing function would allow me to do so, that was supposed to be “faux ally?” – a question, not a statement.

    And yet, the very next post from the piece author contained “this is not one you can victim-blame your way out of.”

    So, perhaps my original statement was correct despite being an error.

  23. Anne Onne
    Anne Onne March 12, 2008 at 9:40 am |

    I had never heard of her until I read your post, but I found it very moving. She did deserve better. Better than the ‘friends’ and aqaintances who deserted her. Better than the industries and men which used and abused her. Better than what this society has to give.

  24. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID March 12, 2008 at 9:44 am |

    BB, I don’t think you need to qualify your statement. While I’m just pro-some-porn enough to alienate most of the core antiporn folks, I’m implacably critical of the industry, in part because what IACB said sounds to me like the same old shit. Saying that a woman has a lot of self-esteem tied up in her public presentation as sexual does absolutely nothing to undermine my point: it rather was my point.

    That argument gets deployed to personalize the cultural phenomenon to the particular woman: the choices that Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, Traci Lords, Shannon Wilsey, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan make. It’s a forest-trees issue: as feminists, we believe that the personal is political; that (as the author recently clarified) these personal problems and experiences are in fact systemic or symptoms of something systemic. So, whatever the meaning of the personal choices, seeing them in the context of social structures is something that all feminists agree on.

    IACB’s comment, and these sorts of “but she …” comments are almost always deployed strategically to take the focus off the social structure issues and reinsert the salacious focus on one women. I personalized the Shannon Wilsey story because it touches me, and because it touches others, but I’m trying to make a structural point. One who attempts to obliterate that structural analysis in favor of finger-wagging judgment at one woman’s response to her situation while calling it “agency” is, in my view, not acting as an ally (whatever their intentions; some people have a conscious antifeminist project and others have their heads up their asses).

    As far as looking down one’s nose at sympathy, that’s the battle cry of the Randroid conservaterians: “to sympathize is to patronize! empathy is contempt! Only ruthlessness is respect!” Not my worldview. Not one that I identify with any school of feminism, either.

  25. JenLovesPonies
    JenLovesPonies March 12, 2008 at 9:45 am |

    Jenna Mazzoli (Jameson) auditioned as a stripper at 13, was told she was too young, and just snapped the braces off her teeth with pliers and went back.

    Not true, according to her E! True Hollywood Story. She was 17, a few months shy of being legal, not thirteen. The braces story is true, but she wasn’t thirteen.

    On topic? I like this post, but I don’t know that casual sex partners usually come to funerals, especially if they are famous and/or busy. This is especially true if her friends were mostly excluded by her parents. I also think that perhaps “lonely dead sex worker” is as disturbing and false as any other stereotype we have of sex workers. I do think she might have been just as depressed if she had another job- but who knows? Its impossible to say, especially for people who didn’t know her.

  26. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 9:55 am |

    One who attempts to obliterate that structural analysis in favor of finger-wagging judgment at one woman’s response to her situation while calling it “agency” is, in my view, not acting as an ally

    I think that, right there, is the core of the problem with the dicsussions between the two camps on this issue.

  27. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID March 12, 2008 at 10:09 am |

    JLP, I think there are conflicting accounts on Jameson, but it’s possible I just got it wrong.

    We can’t know how Shannon Wilsey’s life would have been if she didn’t have substance abuse problems, if she didn’t spend four years making porn, if she were not a celebrity groupie. But I see her as a personalizing example of a pattern; and not some wages-of-sin sex worker cautionary tale, but a story about men.

    I’m for casual sex; I’ve had a bit myself. But I’ve never had a sex partner that I didn’t respect. There’s not one that I wouldn’t stand up and say, “yeah, we had sex. It was fun.” Now, I don’t think that someone who met me once, had sex with me and never saw me again would come to my funeral. But the folks I fucked once or a few times who are in my circle of friends? If I were a minor celebrity, the folks who were anxious to be seen with me and photographed with me? Drinking buddies and folks I toured with? Yeah, I would think they’d go. She was on-again-off-again with Vince Neal for a long time, IIRC. Where was Vince?

    We can look at Marilyn Monroe and say, “her depression problems were personal.” We can say that Jayne Mansfield’s career arc from A-list to D-list was individual. We can sneer at Monica Lewinsky and say, as one wag did, that she “doesn’t seem to know what she’s famous for.” We can talk about each one individually, or we can ask if there’s a pattern. I see a pattern. Patriarchy begs, pleads, demands, threatens and pushes women into sexual display on command, and they holds it against them. Putting all the individual issues aside, that’s the pattern I see, and that’s not personal. That’s political.

    Anybody disagree?

  28. ElleBeMe
    ElleBeMe March 12, 2008 at 10:14 am |

    I like this post, but I don’t know that casual sex partners usually come to funerals, especially if they are famous and/or busy.

    I am a fan of E-True Hollywood Story as well and what I remember from the Savanna episode, when they INTERVIEWED Vince Neil and (I think Slash), she was merely a toy to them. She wasn’t a casual sex partner by any means. They brought her on tour, they took her out where press could get full view of her and them together. However I’ll never forget Vince Neil claiming that in no uncertain terms was he ever going to get serious with her BECAUSE she was a porn star.

    To them she was merely a sexual accesory, NOT a person. She was their bad-boy, porn-star GF who made THEM look scandalous. Any hint of seriousness with Savanna/Shannon was not in the cards.

    Oh and yeah, Vince expressed “real sympathy” during his interview, but his acting, like his music SUCKED.

    As for her romp with Slash, I remember they were an item until she went down on him in a restaurant (in NY or LA – can’t remember) under the table. When the press got wind of that, Slash was in jeapordy of public scorn – so it was then emphasized that Savanna/Shannon was a porn star and “expected” of her. Slash dumped her immediately after that incident, regardless of his willingness to get a BJ. SHE took the shame and the blame.

  29. julie
    julie March 12, 2008 at 10:30 am |

    A sad story indeed. It shows just what level of hell she was caught up in: a level full of users and people very out of touch with humanity. Unfortunately, there will always be many people at such weak points in their lives that they will be fodder for these sad, unfeeling types. We can’t expect them to be decent people, much less to take one hour out of their damn lives and show some respect for someone else. Pathetic narcissists don’t have that capacity. What we need to expect is that people (of both genders) are helped long before they hit bottom. That way, the users will run out of prey and maybe be forced to evaluate themselves.

  30. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID March 12, 2008 at 10:40 am |

    I would be remiss if I ignored the actual sex workers who speak on this. Ren is pissed at me for what I wrote. Fair enough. The woman’s smart and can write; she’s got a viewpoint and a place to express it; go read.

    FWIW, I can see how (since it happens so often, and I should have been more careful in tone) this gets read as “dead porn star morality tale.” That’s not what I meant to convey, and I’m not condemning Wilsey for being a high-profile groupie or a porn star. I’m pissed at men like Slash and Vince Neal for spending a lot of time with her and not respecting her. As I’ve tried to make clear in comments, this is not about how and why women do porn or sex work; it’s about how society, and especially men, react.

    As for people being annoyed with me, that will always happen to me in feminist discussions of sex. I’m BDSMer, so many radfems don’t like me; I’m critical of the BDSM community so many BDSMers don’t like me; I’m a Swedish Model proponent and a critic of the porn industry, so some sex workers and folks who are friendly to those industries don’t like me and think I disrespect them by taking those positions; I’m pro by-us-for-us niche porn, so the porn opponents who like my criticism of the mainstream industry stop liking me when I talk about Peter Acworth and Kink.com. I say what I think. People get mad. Sometimes I decide I’m wrong, sometimes I don’t, but I expect I’ll make someone mad every time I say what I think about sex and the commodification thereof. Rinse, repeat.

  31. Marley Banks
    Marley Banks March 12, 2008 at 10:41 am |

    So you didn’t know Shannon. Or any of friends, family, or work partners. And you never saw her work. And your remembrance is based on a cable TV show that exploited her death without a filament of journalistic rigor.

    Shannon would not have appreciated it.

  32. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID March 12, 2008 at 11:17 am |

    So you didn’t know Shannon.

    No. I didn’t. And you’re eliding what I gather we’re supposed to presume from your comment, which is that you did.

    Maybe the coverage was all wrong. Maybe she loved porn, looked forward to her comeback. Maybe her drug use wasn’t much of an issue and her depression would have affected her regardless of her circumstances. Maybe she thought Vince and Slash were assholes good only for publicity. That’s not the way it was covered and I wrote based on the information available to me. If you know different and you want to set the record straight, go ahead.

  33. Zach
    Zach March 12, 2008 at 11:24 am |

    Right on. I’d never heard of Shannon Wilsey, but her grim end feels like a story all too familiar. I imagine that the majority of articles on her death bore tones of warning rather than outrage or compassion. Perhaps this makes me a cynic, but how am I to think differently when the world (which I’d argue is one unified patriarchal society comprised of many different male-dominant cultures) continues to maintain such high demands of women?

  34. Natalia
    Natalia March 12, 2008 at 11:56 am |

    I think this entire story is a great illustration as to why sex-worker rights is an IMPORTANT FUCKIN’ ISSUE. One we can’t afford to ignore. Too often, people assume that sever depression and addiction and so on are “normal” in the context of sex-work.

    Though, I’ve said it up above and I’ve said it again… people make a choice to end their own lives.

  35. Natalia
    Natalia March 12, 2008 at 12:03 pm |

    Here’s another thing, there is a dangerous false dichotomy that is sometimes created in these situations, and it goes something like this:

    a) Stay in sex-work, be miserable.

    b) Get out and be happy. Yay!

    Except, for someone with severe depression, it’s not necessarily going to work like that. Depression is a complex phenomenon. And we are all complex creatures. I didn’t know Wilsey personally, though. I’ve got no idea what could or would have helped her.

  36. Glossolalia Black
    Glossolalia Black March 12, 2008 at 12:23 pm |

    All of her lovers all talk of the notes
    And the flowers that they never sent
    Wasn’t she easy?
    Isn’t she pretty in pink?

    The one who insists he was first in the line
    Is the last to remember her name
    He’s walking around in the dress that she wore
    She’s gone, but the joke’s the same.

    - Psychedelic Furs, “Pretty In Pink”

  37. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 12:30 pm |

    That’s not what I meant to convey, and I’m not condemning Wilsey for being a high-profile groupie or a porn star. I’m pissed at men like Slash and Vince Neal for spending a lot of time with her and not respecting her. As I’ve tried to make clear in comments, this is not about how and why women do porn or sex work; it’s about how society, and especially men, react.

    And this is crystal freakin clear in both the post and your comments.

  38. octogalore
    octogalore March 12, 2008 at 12:30 pm |

    Natalia’s got a good point. Of course, there is a pattern of women being hapless victims of the sex industry and what you describe as the pheonomenon of “Patriarchy begs, pleads, demands, threatens and pushes women into sexual display on command, and they holds it against them.” But it’s not the root problem.

    Yes, that’s a serious issue in and of itself. But sex work = bad idea is a very simplistic analysis. For a certain person with various problems, it may be the best of a bad set of options. Albeit not knowing her, I would surmise that the reason for Shannon tragically ending her life had to do with the paucity of her options rather than the fact that sex work was the one she chose.

    So blaming sex work is an easy dodge of the real problem. We do know that Shannon had moved back and forth between parents and other relatives, and had substance abuse issues. But it’s unclear whether those were triggered by sex work, or by being disenfranchised from a home support system without any other kind of support system. Many women (and men) in that situation turn to drugs, irrespective of whether they are involved in sex work. While there may be a higher percentage of sex workers with such issues than women in other professions, the inquiry should be how to give them greater support. As Natalia says, “getting out” is a simplistic non-strategy. Who will then pay the bills?

    There is a reason that the marketing of sexy=happy works for certain women (and to a much lesser degree, men). That’s not to say that the marketing and mass media messages aren’t problematic. But where does the problem start? Those questions are so complicated, and the answers involve so much responsibility on the part of all of us, that often it’s easier to just point the finger — elsewhere. That’s a cop out.

  39. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 12, 2008 at 12:34 pm |

    We can talk about each one individually, or we can ask if there’s a pattern. I see a pattern. Patriarchy begs, pleads, demands, threatens and pushes women into sexual display on command, and they holds it against them. Putting all the individual issues aside, that’s the pattern I see, and that’s not personal. That’s political.

    And yet half the commenters seem to be looking into the forest and only seeing the bark.

    Seriously, have we gotten to the point where we’re not supposed to think it’s sad when someone puts a gun to her head and kills herself? We’re supposed to say, Well, it was her own choice to kill herself and therefore there’s nothing wrong with it?

  40. ShelbyWoo
    ShelbyWoo March 12, 2008 at 12:47 pm |

    Seriously, have we gotten to the point where we’re not supposed to think it’s sad when someone puts a gun to her head and kills herself? We’re supposed to say, Well, it was her own choice to kill herself and therefore there’s nothing wrong with it?

    Exaclty! Most people take their lives because the feel it’s their only option. And, if you feel it’s your only option, that’s not really a choice at all, is it? Since depression is the leading cause of suicide and depression is medical condition not a choice, how can someone say suicide is a choice?

  41. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 12:54 pm |

    We’re supposed to say, Well, it was her own choice to kill herself and therefore there’s nothing wrong with it?

    Not only that, but we’re apparently not supposed to look at anything that might be a contributing factor.

  42. Iamcuriousblue
    Iamcuriousblue March 12, 2008 at 12:58 pm |

    Thomas –

    Well, first I want to correct a point about Tracy Lords – nobody knew she was underage – not people in the industry, not fans, not anybody but herself, and I challenge you to demonstrate otherwise.

    You know, I am willing to discuss these some of these points further, but after your round of name-calling and other bullshit toward me – “can’t victim-blame my way out of”, “randroid”, “taking the focus of structural issues” (as if you’ve even begun to address said) – all I have to say is for you to take your pseudo-empathy and fuck off.

    If you want real discussion, I’d be happy to provide it, but I don’t engage with people who’s MO is to put words in people’s mouth.

    In the meantime, I refer back to Ren’s excellent post about the subject, and mine as well.

    Betty Boondoggle -

    Well, since you chose to engage:

    Faux ally? When the hell have I ever claimed to be an ally to the likes of you? You’re reactionary ex-cop “feminism” sickens me, and I’m quite proud not to be allied with you. As for who I am or am not allied to, I’ll let would-be allies judge, ultimately.

  43. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 12, 2008 at 1:13 pm |

    Marley Banks:

    So you didn’t know Shannon. Or any of friends, family, or work partners. And you never saw her work. And your remembrance is based on a cable TV show that exploited her death without a filament of journalistic rigor.

    I don’t see you leveling that criticism at the men who wanked all over her porn images. Why the discrepancy?

  44. Hector B.
    Hector B. March 12, 2008 at 1:25 pm |

    From a biography I read on the internet, Shannon got a bad start in life; her parents split up when she was tiny. It may be just pop psychology, but perhaps the lack of her father’s love led to her becoming a groupie and a porn star. Also, according to this bio, some people might have stayed away from her because her illness manifested itself in part by rejecting other people:

    ” She was a scared and insecure little girl who needed unconditional love all of the time,” says veteran porn actress Jeanna Fine, who also says that she and Savannah were lovers from 1990 to 1992.

    “Savannah tested people,” Fine explains. “She pushed people to the limits to see how they would react. Although she was very afraid of rejection, she would on purpose make other people dislike her, so she could avoid the possibility of someone rejecting her, so she would reject them first. ”

    The cracks in the star’s psyche were clearly visible to anyone who looked closely. “Savannah was a person with a large ego, with such a large black hole of an ego that she sucked up everything and everyone around her,” Fine sighs. “Shannon was a sweet, gentle, insecure little girl.”

  45. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 12, 2008 at 1:26 pm |

    IACB, pot, kettle, black. Any woman who has ever dared look at the sexual double-standard and question the woman as server model of sexuality has been likened to a goddamn uptight Stalinist by you.

  46. Faith
    Faith March 12, 2008 at 1:29 pm |

    As for people being annoyed with me, that will always happen to me in feminist discussions of sex.

    Oh, it isn’t just you, Thomas. It doesn’t matter who you are or what position you take in feminist discussions concerning sex – and in particular sex work – someone is going to get annoyed with you. I personally found this post to be quite moving and I’m glad you put it out there.

    You know, I am willing to discuss these some of these points further, but after your round of name-calling and other bullshit toward me – “can’t victim-blame my way out of”, “randroid”, “taking the focus of structural issues” (as if you’ve even begun to address said) – all I have to say is for you to take your pseudo-empathy and fuck off.

    Woohoo!! Big man there, IACB. Big man. <>

  47. Faith
    Faith March 12, 2008 at 1:30 pm |

    Woohoo!! Big man there, IACB. Big man.

    That response was highly sarcastic just in case anyone didn’t catch that.

  48. Faith
    Faith March 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm |

    Any woman who has ever dared look at the sexual double-standard and question the woman as server model of sexuality has been likened to a goddamn uptight Stalinist by you.

    Hey, Sheelzebub took the words right out of my mouth!

  49. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl March 12, 2008 at 1:36 pm |

    Well, first I want to correct a point about Tracy Lords – nobody knew she was underage – not people in the industry, not fans, not anybody but herself, and I challenge you to demonstrate otherwise.

    Did you really say this with a straight face? Hah. You said this about an industry that bends over backwards to pimp the “barely legal” girls?

    *snort*

    It’s not like anyone was concerned about her being underage, they just didn’t want her status of being underage to ruin their fantasy of her being underage.

  50. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 1:37 pm |

    When the hell have I ever claimed to be an ally to the likes of you? You’re reactionary ex-cop “feminism” sickens me, and I’m quite proud not to be allied with you.

    :lol: I love it when boys tell me all about myself. Esp ones I’ve never talked to or heard of before. The scare quotes are especially funny, given that so far this person has expressed nothing but disdain for feminists.

    What is it about faux allies that makes them think they have these special powers to read people’s minds?

    I’d love to know what “reactionary” about me though. Wait, wait, wait, I already know. I’m a vag who dares not agree with his holiness who reads minds.

    :lol:

  51. Iamcuriousblue
    Iamcuriousblue March 12, 2008 at 1:39 pm |

    If the shoe fits, Sheelie….

  52. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 1:41 pm |

    Any woman who has ever dared look at the sexual double-standard and question the woman as server model of sexuality has been likened to a goddamn uptight Stalinist by you.

    I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

  53. Iamcuriousblue
    Iamcuriousblue March 12, 2008 at 1:50 pm |

    “It’s not like anyone was concerned about her being underage, they just didn’t want her status of being underage to ruin their fantasy of her being underage.”

    Wow, really should not engage here, but, once again, basic error of fact.

    I’m old enough to remember Traci Lords porn movies. She was not a “barely legal” model, didn’t have that look at all. She looked somewhere in her early 20s, and if that’s what her ID and docs said, were people supposed to be able to read her mind?

    But, anyway, I’m wasting time by trying to engage with a simple point of fact. I’m sure the usual round of trashing and cheap moral condemnation will carry the day here, once again. Have at it girls (and boys)!

  54. Iamcuriousblue
    Iamcuriousblue March 12, 2008 at 2:00 pm |

    “I reiterate that Ren has a very different take, which I encourage folks to read, though she thinks I have my head up my ass. She adds important stuff to the analysis, no matter what one’s POV. IACB, OTOH, is a single-issue industry defender whose “addition” to the analysis you either buy or don’t; put me in the “don’t” column.”

    Actually, my analysis is not that far off of Ren’s, but if it makes you feel better about being somehow oh-so-much better than other men by trashing me, then by all means, have at it.

    Single issue? Yeah, I’m not the first blogger to blog on a particular topic I happen to know a lot about. Industry defender? Well, actually my views on the porn industry are pretty nuanced (perhaps more nuance then your ham-fisted analysis is capable of recognizing), but yes, I will defend the industry, and more particularly the performers in it, from obviously-wrong and bad-faith criticism. And if that earns me stacks and stones from the male pro-feminist treehouse, big deal. Why would I even want to be a member of that club?

  55. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub March 12, 2008 at 2:16 pm |

    Yes, well, you know, it means that I hate teh sex, oppress all men and want them thrown into camps, love censorship (criticism=censorship donthca know), love teh right wing, and oh, yeah, STALIN STALIN STALIN. Because sex=something that women (and some gay men) sell and men buy and that’s that, and anyone who does not approve of this gospel or finds it constraining LOVES THEM SOME STALIN.

    Oh, and poltical correctness is the root of all teh evil. Or something.

  56. Halfmad
    Halfmad March 12, 2008 at 2:25 pm |

    I found this googling.

  57. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 2:32 pm |

    Sheelzebub – and apparently, it’s “reactionary” to have a solid background in dealing personally with the awful reality of the majority of sex workers (in my area) and yet still want there to be safety for those that do chose it.

    Which I don’t understand. Isn’t that a position that he’d support?

  58. Alex
    Alex March 12, 2008 at 3:21 pm |

    Saddest of all is that she killed herself. And of course, if she was exploited, that’s also really sad. But Hollywood isn’t sentimental, it’s a business, and actors are products, whether they’re in porn or not, and whether they’re exploited or not. Sympathy and empathy is rare in business, rarer still in Hollywood.

  59. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 12, 2008 at 3:25 pm |

    I do not condone improper apostrophes.

    Prude!

  60. RenegadeEvolution
    RenegadeEvolution March 12, 2008 at 3:30 pm |

    Tomas:

    To be fair, it’s safe to assume I’m generally pissed at a lot of people for a whole lot of reasons, and yes, I also said that I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. I honestly do think that you are coming from a place of actual sympathy for Shannon Wilsey and condemnation for the famous rock stars that treated her badly.

    But the “look at the poor exploited famous woman/porn star” whatever thing is prevelant, and yes, I’ve most certainly noted that people have a lot more sympathy and understanding for these people once they are dead. The sad, truly sad thing, is how many people, female and male alike face the truth of fame/semi-fame/ the media blitz, the way people use and discard eachother and then do end up dead, alone, and all but forgotten, via overdoses and suicide. It’s not unique to porn stars, or even women, it happens to a lot of people who are famous, were once famous, or were hangers on to those who are famous.

    And no one can really say why Shannon was so depressed, if a different line of work or lifestyle would have made a difference, or what things might have been like for her with better friends and lovers. Countless “everyday” people with “everyday” jobs suffer from depression and commit suicide. And it’s tragic in every case.

    But the take of “everyone walks out on these women (Shannon, Anna Nicole Smith, Brit) in the end” is one sided. Which is why I linked the announcement on Anna Malle (porn star, killed in a car accident), and while yes, there were one or two of the typical who cares about a porn star comments, there were also a lot of comments from people who loved, cared about, and respected her; from family, co-workers, friends, fans and people who merely thought she was a warm, wonderful, kind person. Those are the stories about porn stars you never hear.

    And no, I will say flat out, porn, stripping, sex work in general? Not easy jobs and certainly not jobs for everyone or that anyone can handle. Yet, as annoying and hurtful as the attitude of “who cares about a whore” that comes out of men, and some women, can be, well, so are a lot of the more patronizing feminist attitudes directed towards the people in the industry as well.

    And anytime a person commits suicide, yes, it is tragic…be they a porn star, a partent, a child, a banker, a student…whatever they might be. Shannon’s case is tragic…the exact kind of tragedy the media (especially E!) feeds on. Pain sells and gets great ratings. As Christi Lake, porn star, has said several times: “No one wants to hear about happy porn stars.”

    And alas, I think it’s true, which is why there is no E! special on Anna Malle, or women like her.

    And yep, it’s a volatile issue that can bring out the worst in everyone. Me included.

  61. sam
    sam March 12, 2008 at 3:31 pm |

    There are a lot of people who lose the battle with depression.

    She didn’t lose the battle with depression, she lost the battle with oppression.

  62. sam
    sam March 12, 2008 at 3:32 pm |

    The first sentence should have been in quotes.

  63. RenegadeEvolution
    RenegadeEvolution March 12, 2008 at 3:35 pm |

    Also, I want to say, had our differences or not, I think Betty does actually care about women in the sex industry and does recognize that some women do choose it willingly. I honestly think that she would help someone like Shannon or in her position, if she could. Hands on style.

  64. Sniper
    Sniper March 12, 2008 at 4:17 pm |

    who cares…… one less slut on this earth.

    Exactly. Not a human being, a slut. I heard almost exactly the same thing when Anna Nicole Smith died. Why does it have to be pointed out again and again and again that people are people. Why harm did Smith or Wilsey do that they should be so vilified?

    Ah, but I kid myself. It’s not about what they did or didn’t do. It’s about how society views women. There is no woman so “pure” that she’s immune from this shit. There’s no win here.

  65. less13lee
    less13lee March 12, 2008 at 4:24 pm |

    What Sniper said.

  66. Jeff
    Jeff March 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm |

    Why does it have to be one of the men she was “fucking” who had to be a friend? She didn’t know any females? No one else beside the ones she has a physical relationship with could be there for her? That opinion is setting women back a solid fifty years…..

  67. Kathleen
    Kathleen March 12, 2008 at 4:32 pm |

    Sam: right on.

  68. RenegadeEvolution
    RenegadeEvolution March 12, 2008 at 5:10 pm |

    It seems that her parents excluded anyone she knew from “the Cali party/industry scene” from her funeral in anyway. Hard to pay respects in such a situation.

  69. Faith
    Faith March 12, 2008 at 5:40 pm |

    Why does it have to be one of the men she was “fucking” who had to be a friend? She didn’t know any females? No one else beside the ones she has a physical relationship with could be there for her? That opinion is setting women back a solid fifty years…..

    You can’t really be missing the point by that much, can you, Jeff? Really? You’re trolling, right? Tell me you’re trolling.

  70. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 12, 2008 at 5:56 pm |

    The sad, truly sad thing, is how many people, female and male alike face the truth of fame/semi-fame/ the media blitz, the way people use and discard eachother and then do end up dead, alone, and all but forgotten, via overdoses and suicide.

    Some people find out too late that they can’t handle fame and/or notoriety. Current Exhibit A: Amy Winehouse.

    Male actors and musicians also commit suicide, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an actor who committed suicide specifically because he was getting older and was no longer considered attractive by movie producers. I can come up with Marilyn Monroe and Lupe Velez just off the top of my head, and could probably come up with a half-dozen more if I had a minute to think about it.

  71. RenegadeEvolution
    RenegadeEvolution March 12, 2008 at 6:28 pm |

    Mn: Oh, you won’t catch me saying (or thinking) that women, famous or not, take it harder in relation to looks and youth than men do. There is no question that they do. Yet, in this particular case (Shannon Wilsey) there is no indication such things were a factor. People get depressed up and to the point of suicide for many reasons. Looks and age do happen to be factors for some women though, I won’t deny that.

  72. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 12, 2008 at 7:01 pm |

    Mn: Oh, you won’t catch me saying (or thinking) that women, famous or not, take it harder in relation to looks and youth than men do. There is no question that they do. Yet, in this particular case (Shannon Wilsey) there is no indication such things were a factor.

    Considering that she got into a minor car accident, called her manager in panic that she had ruined her looks and would never find work again, and then shot herself in the head, you really think there is no indication such things were a factor in Wilsey’s case?

    Dude, leaves are not the only thing in the forest. Seriously. Try to look at the trees for just a minute or two.

    Would Wilsey have done the same thing if she had been a more run-of-the-mill actress/model type who wasn’t in porn but still depended on her looks to make her living? My guess, she probably would have. Because my point is that it’s being a commodity in entertainment AS AN INDUSTRY that’s damaging, not that it was specifically porn in and of itself that damaged her.

  73. Thomas, TSID
    Thomas, TSID March 12, 2008 at 7:46 pm |

    Ren, actually Jeanna Fine (her GF) said that Shannon would never have let herself get old, and the suicide was immediately precipitated by a facial injury. I think that so many people and cultural currents told her that her appearance and desirability as a sex object were her only value was exactly the issue, though in the end it was not age that was the threat.

  74. RenegadeEvolution
    RenegadeEvolution March 12, 2008 at 7:53 pm |

    Mn and Tomas;

    Well, over on my blog, someone who knew her stated the media overplayed the seriousness of her injury and recation to it.

    Truth is, NONE of us in the peanut gallery know why, or what combination of whys, led her to commit suicide now, do we?

    No. We don’t. Yet I imagine it was a combination of whys, as most suicides are.

    If beauty and youth were a reason, I stand corrected, and find its not hard to believe. As I said above, it is an issue and pressure for many women, in entertainment and out.

  75. arbor
    arbor March 12, 2008 at 8:05 pm |

    The Los Angeles entertainment industry is simply an enormous cesspool that decent people get sucked into believing they can be famous or get rich (there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be famous…or rich……what is wrong is HOW you get there). I have no friends or acquaintances in the entertainment industry, but when I visit LA for business or pleasure I always get this awful feeling deep down its the industry itself that builds up, uses, and spits out human decency. Those who survive its onslaught are completely immune to it or have bought whole-heartedly into it. The others eventually go insane. And you see the damage everywhere — lawyers, doctors, politicians, “journalists”, critics, agents, actors, waiters, construction workers, illegals, artists, groupies, porn people, they must buy in to the fantasy world that is LA or they will take some little red pills or put a gun to their heads or commit themselves or drink too much……..

  76. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 12, 2008 at 8:14 pm |

    Truth is, NONE of us in the peanut gallery know why, or what combination of whys, led her to commit suicide now, do we?

    We only know what the last person to speak with her said she told him right before she killed herself. To dismiss that piece of evidence is, again, making excuses for the way she was treated by the entertainment industry (note, not “adult” entertainment, but ALL entertainment). There are unique pressures on women who perform, whether they perform in “legitimate” theater on Broadway or in porn films. A lawyer in her 40s can still get work; an actress in her 40s may not be able to.

    In case I haven’t been crystal-clear, let me emphasize this once again: I’m not saying that she killed herself because she was in porn films. I am saying that she killed herself because she was in entertainment, which also includes porn, and the entertainment industry chews people up and spits them out again. To deny that performing for a living — any type of performance — can be incredibly damaging is ignoring the systemic problem that’s right in front of you.

  77. RenegadeEvolution
    RenegadeEvolution March 12, 2008 at 8:51 pm |

    MN: I agree with you. The evidence is overwhelming that the entertainment industry puts a ton of pressure on those involved in any aspect of it, and I am agreeing that women have it much worse in the looks/age department, I want to make that crystal clear.

    I also think the media feeds on the downfall of anyone famous, a fall from grace or a tragic headline makes great news and for great ratings. I also, personally, believe that they will twist the truth and stretch it to make it more dramatic….in a whole lot of cases, not just those involving porn stars.

    People in entertainment, the whole spectrum, seem to have a higher incident rate of things such as substance abuse, divorce, and suicide, stress problems than the average Jane or Joe, no doubt because it is a brutal and highly competitive industry.

    I agree with all of that. But I think in any suicide there are more factors than the ones the media reports or that people ponder or dwell on. Is that a fair assumption to make? I don’t know, but I believe it.

  78. jessilikewhoa
    jessilikewhoa March 12, 2008 at 10:50 pm |

    Well, first I want to correct a point about Tracy Lords – nobody knew she was underage – not people in the industry, not fans, not anybody but herself, and I challenge you to demonstrate otherwise.

    according to her biography, her stepfather was the one to bring her into the industry, and he surely knew how old she was.

  79. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea March 13, 2008 at 12:19 am |

    you see the damage everywhere — lawyers, doctors, politicians, “journalists”, critics, agents, actors, waiters, construction workers, illegals, artists, groupies, porn people, they must buy in to the fantasy world that is LA or they will take some little red pills or put a gun to their heads or commit themselves or drink too much…

    Speaking as someone who has lived her entire life in L.A., I can’t relate to that statement in the least.

    In fact I live in the San Fernando Valley, the “capitol of the porn industry” but I didn’t know it was called that until somebody told me. Nor do I or the vast majority of people I know have any connection with Hollywood except as a consumer, though it is pretty common to meet people who have ordinary jobs but are hoping to get into acting or pushing a screenplay.

    This post describes an important situation: the porn industry and what it can do to people, or maybe moreso what society can do to people in the porn industry, but I don’t see making make some kind of regional issue out of it just because the industry is centered here.

  80. JD
    JD March 13, 2008 at 3:27 am |

    You’re pretending that porn performers are something far different from your average laborer or 9-to-5 wage slave. Someone with no prospects, wealthy business owners dangle a wad of money in front of their face, just enough to barely get by, and after they are done with the worker, it’s basically all forgotten.

    Then at the funeral, how many of those employers show up? How many Home Depot managers attend the funerals of people who worked for them for years?

    Some, I’m sure. Not every story is the heart-tugging, tear-jerking kind.

  81. Betty Boondoggle
    Betty Boondoggle March 13, 2008 at 8:45 am |

    “I want to say, had our differences or not”

    Had? Uh-oh, what did I do that I don’t remember. That’s not being snarky – I genuinely have no idea what you mean. If I offended, apologies.

  82. RenegadeEvolution
    RenegadeEvolution March 13, 2008 at 8:55 am |

    Betty- more meaning “we have differences of opinion” and “different allies”. We have, in short, disagreed before. I’m not going to list “offenses”, not the time or the place. People say things others get offended by. Plain and simple, but no need for a thread jack.

  83. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 13, 2008 at 10:43 am |

    This post describes an important situation: the porn industry and what it can do to people, or maybe moreso what society can do to people in the porn industry, but I don’t see making make some kind of regional issue out of it just because the industry is centered here.

    I think that to say the entire area of Los Angeles is damaged is overstating it, but I do think that the damage that exists is because of the whole entertainment industry, not the porn industry. The porn industry may be more naked about what they do (no pun intended) but it’s different only in that “legitimate” actresses don’t have their humiliations put on camera for everyone to see — they get to be put down and molested in the privacy of the producer’s office.

    Exploitation is rife in entertainment — that’s why there are strong guilds and unions when unions have pretty much died off in the rest of the workplace. Heck, I’m a frickin’ secretary (yes, that’s my job title, sadly) and I’m part of the office workers union at my company.

  84. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 13, 2008 at 10:47 am |

    But I think in any suicide there are more factors than the ones the media reports or that people ponder or dwell on. Is that a fair assumption to make? I don’t know, but I believe it.

    Example: we will never know for sure exactly why my husband’s best friend killed himself, but given that he was a depressed alcoholic who refused to get treatment for either condition, we’re pretty sure what the underlying factor was. And that’s all I’ve been talking about — the possible underlying factors, not the exact thoughts that were going through Shannon’s mind right before she killer herself.

  85. Trixie23
    Trixie23 March 13, 2008 at 11:22 am |

    Oh so sad that she saw her value that way….as a pretty shiny toy.

    I would like to think that if I had a daughter, she would know she could come to me if she felt worthless.

    Actually, I hope ANYone’s daughter could know value them.

  86. Natalia
    Natalia March 13, 2008 at 12:37 pm |

    We’re supposed to say, Well, it was her own choice to kill herself and therefore there’s nothing wrong with it?

    *blink blink*

    And who exactly was saying that?

    Plenty of things wrong with suicide… but it is still a choice that people make.

  87. Mold
    Mold March 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm |

    Believe Tracy Lords. I want confirmation for all her statements.

  88. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne March 13, 2008 at 4:07 pm |

    And who exactly was saying that?

    Rebecca seemed to, in #17:

    It wasn’t the fault of the porn industry or all of Shannon’s lovers or even bad luck, fate or karma. It was Shannon’s choice and she made it.

    If nothing else, respect that and let her rest in peace.

  89. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea March 13, 2008 at 4:20 pm |

    I do think that the damage that exists is because of the whole entertainment industry, not the porn industry.

    I think that’s a very legitimate point. But despite the hugeness of the entertainment industry in L.A., it’s not the whole story driving every person here and doesn’t make the place a wasteland sucking energy and morality out of everyone, which I honestly felt was being implied in the post I was responding too. (I know this sounds defensive, but I’m honestly taken aback at the idea that the population of the entire city is so tied up in this, moreso than other places where people consume porn and other entertainment.)

    Not to mention that the effects of entertainment/porn/society’s reaction to these go way beyond the geographic area where it’s produced.

  90. Natalia
    Natalia March 14, 2008 at 4:25 am |

    …she lost the battle with oppression.

    That, my friend, is grade-A bullshit, and I hope you don’t feed it to depression-sufferers you come across. When I was at my lowest in life, people who wanked off to my past and pitied me only perpetuated the damage. The people who make a positive difference in the life of a person suffering from depression are the ones who remind them that they have the POWER to make a command decision to continue on with their lives.

    Because, if you are so helpless and poor and pathetic… guess what? Making an exit seems that much more appealing.

    Of course, some people just loooove the image of a woman so desperate and in pain that they will glorify it and masturbate to it and use it in all sorts of colourful ways.

    It wasn’t the fault of the porn industry or all of Shannon’s lovers or even bad luck, fate or karma. It was Shannon’s choice and she made it.

    If nothing else, respect that and let her rest in peace.

    I don’t think she’s saying there’s nothing wrong with suicide. I think she is pointing out that people are taking a pretty damn simplistic view of the situation.

    And this harmful.

  91. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea March 14, 2008 at 12:51 pm |

    The people who make a positive difference in the life of a person suffering from depression are the ones who remind them that they have the POWER to make a command decision to continue on with their lives.

    Actually, when I’m feeling suicidal and people tell me that I feel like they haven’t heard a damn thing I’m saying. If I were in a place to appreciate my power to make decisions I wouldn’t feel suicidal. I don’t mean I want “pity” and I doubt Shannon Wilsey did either, but I take exception to your remark.

    Sorry, I hate to get off the original topic but I don’t like to see grand sweeping pronouncements about what a person suffering from depression needs.

  92. sam
    sam March 14, 2008 at 4:58 pm |

    “When I was at my lowest in life, people who wanked off to my past and pitied me only perpetuated the damage.”

    That’s my point, that how the world treats women is a bigger determiner than congenital psychology when a woman considers if she wants to stay in this world or check out.

    Back when I was first getting into my activism I came across a study by some group affiliated with the European Union that found pornography actors had 6X the suicide rate of non-porn actors. Wish I could remember more so I could track down that study from around 2000-2001, but what most struck me about it at the time was that in the general population more men commit suicide than women but in the study far more women actors in pornography killed themselves than men actors in pornography.

  93. Natalia
    Natalia March 14, 2008 at 5:08 pm |

    Rose, I don’t think people should necessarily be “told” anything when they are suicidal. I don’t think there is a magical formula to cure that feeling anyway, not to mention the fact that all cases are highly individualized.

    When I say that it’s helpful to remind people of their own power – I’m not talking about necessarily verbally articulating that idea. It’s not like saying, “Hey Rose! Cheer up! Choose life! Have a cookie!” I think people can really only affect one another through example.

    It’s about fundamental respect, and treating people like they are decision-making adults, if they come to you with their problem.

  94. Rosehiptea
    Rosehiptea March 14, 2008 at 7:39 pm |

    I don’t think there is a magical formula to cure that feeling anyway, not to mention the fact that all cases are highly individualized.

    Well, that was actually my point, that not everyone needs to hear the same thing, and that at that point they may not feel powerful.

    It’s about fundamental respect, and treating people like they are decision-making adults, if they come to you with their problem.

    That’s also a good point, and I agree that in general people can have a gory fascination with someone’s problems, particularly in the case of someone who works in the porn industry. That said, I’m not sure this post is an example of that (or only that), because Shannon Wisely did find herself in a pretty horrible position and maybe people need to think about why, even if it involves discussing her past and life. (I agree any time that happens, and someone is an outsider, they’re treading on thin ground.) Plus part of the point is whether people outside the industry respected her and saw her as a person with the same value as themselves, even those who had sex with her.

    And while I couldn’t agree more in general with Rebecca’s point that when someone commits suicide it’s their decision, and blaming the survivors isn’t appropriate, I don’t think that should stop us from wondering if the circumstances some people are in couldn’t be improved — by mental health care, more choices in life, basic respect or anything else.

  95. kmach
    kmach March 15, 2008 at 1:54 am |

    RenegadeEvolution says: And no, I will say flat out, porn, stripping, sex work in general? Not easy jobs and certainly not jobs for everyone or that anyone can handle. Yet, as annoying and hurtful as the attitude of “who cares about a whore” that comes out of men, and some women, can be, well, so are a lot of the more patronizing feminist attitudes directed towards the people in the industry as well.

    Gee, I think “who cares about a whore” is far more damaging. Because thinking someone is a lesser human being for engaging in sex work (i.e.,“who cares about a whore?”) is why the murder of streetwalkers receives less intensive police investigation that the murder of nice clean college girls, and women in sex work aren’t too likely to get a rape or assault case prosecuted (or even a woman or girl who’s painted as just a “whore”), so they’re pretty much fair game. Just a couple of examples. I’d take patronizing, misdirected pity any day over contempt and hatred. I guess I’m just weird that way.

  96. EG
    EG March 16, 2008 at 11:28 am |

    That’s my point, that how the world treats women is a bigger determiner than congenital psychology when a woman considers if she wants to stay in this world or check out.

    I disagree. If that were true, women would be committing suicide en masse at far higher rates than they do. That’s not to say that misogyny doesn’t play a role–it is obviously one of the stressors that can trigger depression in women who are vulnerable to depression, with the result that more women are going to be triggered that way (i.e. people who would have been close to depression but never experience it are pushed over the line)–but it’s certainly not a “bigger” determinant. There are numerous ways to respond to stressors and to misogyny. Depression is a pathological way.

  97. Ghostmaes
    Ghostmaes April 8, 2008 at 11:15 pm |

    I guess I’m late. I just wanted to add my thumbs up to a well written article. Shannon Wilsey’s life is the pefect example of sad beauty. That really comes across in your words.
    As far as sex workers go our cultural inherited a puritan sensibility and this is it’s last gasp of reality. Soon, women will be Presidents. More will be Senators. They will become the guardians of lost kids. I am hoping our culture will see this happen and women will take their rightful and respectful place. To be honored for their feminine will.
    Maybe Savannah and Anna Nicole Smith were bubble gum for our times. But, Shannon and Vicky were real life human consciousness beings.

  98. John Marciano
    John Marciano April 20, 2008 at 5:10 pm |

    I remember two things in 1994, I heard about Shannon’s suicide while watching
    E! news . I was shocked , cried & was dismayed . Remember it was ruled a
    suicide , there was so much hype later that followed how ‘bad’ the porn industry
    is, how the girls are lured looking for fame end up later in a body bag .
    I really loved Savannah , she was as it seemed a nice girl , came from a broken
    family ; divorced parents . But what’s new? Second thing I remember was how
    Comet Shoe-maker-levy impacted Jupiter that week , the Kurt Cobain suicide , and last of all the O. J Simpson may ham . Poor Shannon was all too unimportant
    ,but she deserves more.

  99. QFE - Quoted for Emphasis | Voice of Dissent

    [...] The Lonely Death of Shannon Wilsey – Thomas asks some wonderful questions in this sad and tragic recall of a death that could have been prevented with just a bit of compassion from those who knew and supposedly cared about her. [...]

  100. Kyle
    Kyle September 29, 2008 at 6:44 pm |

    Thank you for this very poignant memorial to a very lost little girl, May she rest in peace.

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