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madonna or whore: the teacher who was fired for posing for playboy

The_Madonna_with_Saint_Giovannino

It’s the first day of Year 8, and the students are forced to introduce themselves in a new-class routine that never loses its awkwardness. In an effort to tell us what he loves, the maths teacher hands around a picture taken during a body-building competition: he is bizarrely brown and shiny. His face is a disconcerting mixture between a grimace and a smile. And he is wearing a g-string.

Mortified by this naked revelation of my teacher, I giggle with my friends and pass it on. At 13 I’m not ready to think about my teacher beyond his annoying algebra questions.

Like my maths teacher, Cristy Nicole Deweese has inadvertently revealed herself to her students. The 21-year-old is a teacher at North Texas school Yvonne Ewell Townview Centre, where she teaches Spanish. That is, she was a teacher—she’s reportedly been fired after nude photos from Playboy’s ‘Coed of the Month’ became public. She was 18 when the pictures were taken.

While she hasn’t broken laws, the school is allegedly investigating the Employee Standards of Conduct to see whether she has overstepped the mark. Truth be told, she has been fired because students can see images of her naked.

Students have taken to social media to publish signed petitions and declare their loyalty. Parents’ comments ranged from judgemental to supportive – one Mum opined from the seat of her car: ‘As long as she can do her job, let it ride.’ Another said it would be ‘distracting for the boys’.

Deweese’s teenage students will be looking up pornography anyway, as well as fantasising over attractive teachers (whether nude photos are available or not). It’s all part of the adolescent experience.

Despite this, the model-turned-teacher was fired because of the dualistic way we view women. Western society’s understanding is often limited by the two archetypes that have arisen from myths and religious stories: the madonna and the whore. It’s a dichotomy that paints women as one-sided, splitting them into either an innocent nurturer or a simpering sexpot.

This division of women into two mutually exclusive definitions plays out most obviously in insipid celebrity magazines like Woman’s Day. Picture the Miley Cyruses, the Lindsay Lohans, all those young women who are seen as ‘off the rails’; these celebrities are breaking into womanhood and pose topless for men’s mags, their sexuality on display. Now consider the angel-like role of mothers (Princess Mary, Michelle Obama). By boxing women into either end of this dualism, they are contained and easily defined.

Yet when a teacher is depicted in a sexual light (at an age barely older than the youngsters she now instructs), these boundaries are crossed. The archaic label of ‘fallen woman’ (or modern version: slut) seems to echo silently through news reports, as we question whether ‘that sort of girl’ should be allowed to teach. The purity of the teacher has been compromised.

Writing on a Dallas Observer blog, Eric Nicholson reprinted Deweese’s gratuitous sentences from Playboy about the favourite parts of her body. He then decided that ‘The question becomes whether she can command her student’s respect in spite of all that.’ A parent interviewed by Fox stated matter-of-factly that boys wouldn’t be able to view her as a role model.

Woah there! Does this mean it’s impossible for a woman to be both vulnerable and assertive? Both a valuable member of the community and an object of masturbation inspiration?

The madonna-whore complex strikes again.

Personally, I’m not a fan of magazines that portray women as just a set of tits and ass—objectifying women dehumanises both perpetrator and receiver. But if we decide Deweese is only allowed to work in segregated areas of society (maybe she could get a job at Coyote Ugly?) because n00dz, if we decide that she does not deserve respect because teenage boys could Google her and find out what her nipples look like, we are dismissing her as a multi-faceted human who is CAPABLE OF MANY THINGS.

I hope she continues teaching—so that teenagers can learn that nude models are living, breathing women with passion and personality as well as pussy. It will be one step closer to breaking down conservative Western society’s continuing madonna-whore dichotomy.

 

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2 thoughts on “madonna or whore: the teacher who was fired for posing for playboy

  1. This is a really great piece. I’ve come across the Madonna-Whore concept before, but have never really seen it contextualised in modern society in a way that makes so much sense. Thanks.

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