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One of These Things Is Not Like the Others, and Don't You Forget It: Sandra Bullock, Jesse James, and Janine Lindemulder

Sandra Bullock Jesse James Sandra Bullock and Jesse James, that handsome couple you see at the left, have been fighting a custody battle against James' ex-wife, Janine Lindemulder, with whom he biologically shares Sunny, their five-year-old daughter. What you will notice in every article about the custody battle is that Lindemulder is never mentioned without the words PORN STAR next to her name. Bullock's and James' careers are rarely even mentioned in these articles, because the important thing is that Lindemulder is a PORN STAR, and don't you forget it.

Sandra Bullock Jesse James Janine Lindemulder 
So, a person and a person and a porn star walk into a custody battle...

If there is anything North Americans love, it's sluts, especially if they are porn stars. Sluts are the scapegoats upon which we can heap our myriad neuroses about ourselves, our sexualities, and our relationships to others, and, as such, we simultaneously embrace them and are disgusted by them. They are us, only we do not have to care about them! The fact that they are also individual people beyond our use of them, though? That bit ends up on the cutting room floor. It complicates them as cum receptacles when we also have to feel for their humanity as wives or mothers or daughters.

James has lost his most recent round in court with the media slut du jour, Lindemulder (link is NSFW), which means that he and Bullock will have to spend Christmas morning sans Sunny. I get the feeling that we are supposed to feel sympathy for the more wholesome-seeming James and Bullock, as though his daughter spending Christmas morning with her mother is some kind of minor tragedy. He is reportedly worried that his ex-wife might introduce Sunny to the dangerous world of pornography, an issue with which he was not so concerned when he legally bound himself in marriage to Lindemulder and made a baby with her not so long ago. His ethics are mighty convenient.

Janine_lindemulder 

In news articles about this custody battle, while it is inevitably mentioned that Lindemulder was in prison for tax evasion and that she operates an X-rated webcam, it is never mentioned that she was once deemed to be a perfectly suitable lifemate and mother to James' offspring. When it comes to defending her right to spend time with and mother her own daughter, little else is noted in the media aside from facts framed to inspire gasp! and horror!. Us Weekly did it most plainly with its "Porn Star Loses Custody Battle Against Sandra Bullock, Jesse James" headline. Bullock and James have names. Lindemulder apparently does not merit a mention by name and is only referred to insofar as she has public sex for money.

I am in no way pro-pornography, but I am not strictly anti-pornography, either. This is not because I think having sex for money is innately bad or that women should keep their pink parts pure for that one right knight; it is because I do not know what brought the particular individuals I am watching to the profession, if they are being abused or being abusive, if they are addicted to drugs, etc. Sex can be a highly physical and psychological process, and because I, for the most part, cannot ascertain whether my participation in that industry as a viewer is promoting inhumanity to the individuals I am watching, I choose not to participate. Plus, my mind is its own hotbed of lusty delight. I don't need no stinking pornos.

What I'm getting at is this: we need to stop with the slut-shaming. Whether the sex is happening within or without a legal marriage, in a bedroom, on a webcam, in groups, one-on-one, indoors, outside, etc., our culture needs to dump its kneejerk habit of defining women by the kind and amount of sex they are having. Do I worry about the influence of exposure to pornography on children? Sure. Do I think that Lindemulder, PORN STAR, is going to be twisting her nipples on webcam while watching Sunny open her presents on Christmas morning? No, I do not.

Janine, enjoy this Christmas morning you have managed to wring out of the courts with what must be stellar self-representation in the face of the James/Bullock lawyers — That's right, she's representing HERSELF. Sluts can be all smart and stuff! — because I have a feeling that this battle is far more perpendicular than it is uphill.


. . . . .
Schmutzie supports self-determined sluts and feels no shame in it.






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Comments

Palinode

Hold on a moment - if Janine Lindemulder has sex on camera with other men and women, surely she must be married to them? Because my understanding is that you can ony have sex with people to whom you are married. The point is, I had a dream last night that I was in a Victorian literature class taught by Katy Perry, and although she had some basic facts wrong (William Morris was not around in the 1950s), she seemed really nice, and in the dream me and Katy had a real connection and an attraction, but we were so awkward about it that we just sat next to each other in embarrassed silence. What the hell, dreamlife?

Palinode

I would also like to say that this was a great post.

Snarky Amber

*stands up, applauds*
Seriously, just fucking fantastic. Every word.

missbanshee

Seriously, dude, you make me want to be a better writer. Brilliant.

the weirdgirl

Rock on!

cindy w

Um, YES. The thing is, it's entirely possible that Janine Lindemulder might be completely crazy and a drug addict and whatever else that makes her an unsuitable parent. But it's been driving me crazy that Jesse James keeps playing up the victim role in this, and I'm thinking: uh, dude? YOU married her & made a baby with her. You didn't just trip and fall on top of a random porn star and then "oops! She's pregnant!" He didn't just *accidentally* make a baby with her. I know he's not the smartest guy in the world, but I think even he probably knows how babies are made.

And yes, the whole PORN STAR (in all caps) thing needs to stop. Not ok.

Florencia

You rocked this one Schmutzie, just rocked it. Thanks for giving me a completely different take the situation and for reminding all of us that people are people and moms are moms and daughters are daughters. Great post!

schmutzie

Cindy W, I did find a mention of an alleged incident involving drugs, but any ongoing abuse of drugs has not been played up as much as her career choice, so I did not want to insinuate addiction where none was strictly indicated. Also, if she were a drug addict, I doubt that the judge would have allowwed her an overnight visit, which this Christmas visit is.

And I agree with you, his playing the victim just smells foul here.

iambellaluna

PORN STARS are people too.

Kari

Agreed. Very strong post. Well written, true, inspirational.

Lisa

Don't forget that Janine is married to someone who also has a criminal past including manufacturing drugs. How many of us would want our children exposed to that type of influence? While I agree, that she shouldn't be listed by her profession, I don't think she's exactly a model parent. Is Jesse James totally innocent? Nope, but he has taken responsibility for his daughter and appears to have concerns regarding her safety while in the care of his ex wife.

annie

An excellent article.

Poor little Sunny though. It is sad when parents can't put aside personal feelings and selfishness for the sake of their children.

ljpock

Hell yes!!!!

I agree that I hate when the only defining thing about a person is their sex life (weather it be with multiple people, people of the same sex, etc.)

One of my brother-in-laws is in the industry and I would trust him more to keep inappropriate material away from a child than I would trust him to not allow them to eat an all ice cream dinner. Not every porn star is a bad person, just like every non-porn star is not a good person.

While I have a huge soft spot for Bullock and James, don't put the kid in the middle of your reindeer games unless there is honestly and truly a concern.

Allan

Terrific article. Thanks so much for the perspective.

mouthy_broad

i agree with you and cindy w and others--uh, you married her and decided to have a child with her. so stop it buddy. and it is completely ridiculous to burn her at the stake just because she is in porn for a living.

and jesse james has like 4 kids with different women in the last decade or so. if wants to be so righteous maybe he should start with his own pants.

Scandalous Housewife

Yeah, I'm all down with sluts and porn stars, as long as they keep the kids out of the world. Who knows what all the facts are...

BaltimoreGal

Excellent all around, lady.
There are definitely other aspects to this case that I think are relevant but apparently not to the media.

TasterSpoon

Have you ever noticed that Tiger Woods' wife is always appended with the title "ex-model"? I assume that is to remind the reader that cheating on a beauty is so much more egregious that cheating on a wife who is not so goodlooking.

Alex

Most excellent post, Schmutzie.

Jessi

Okay, first of all, excellent article and I agree.

HOWEVER, I hate the argument that "she was once deemed to be a perfectly suitable lifemate and mother to James' offspring." If it was that easy, there wouldn't be custody battles.

There are tons of people who became abusive or addicted or whatever AFTER they had kids and saying that "Well, you let her have your kid, she must be good enough now and forever," is a dangerous, dangerous game. When we are talking about a child's safety, we have to talk about what the parents do RIGHT NOW. And, as far as I've read, right now she dates a drug dealer.

None of this is to say that you are wrong in your assessment of the situation. The media needs to move on and get over the fact that porn stars have kids.

Suzy Q

Word.

Julia

Maybe one of the issues is how easily people throw around words like slut. Words are powerful and this post is just further perpetuating an ugly term that I hope would never be applied to me, my mother, my dauther, my grandmother or any woman really. I get it. You're trying to be ironic and clever here. I would just prefer if you didn't cloak it in self-righteousness.

schmutzie

Julia, I think taking some of the wind out of the sails of words like "slut" goes further than protecting its potentially socially crushing present connotations.

Anna Ironside

Well put, Schmutzie! Well put, indeed. And where did that gorgeous photo of Lindemulder come from? It's so beautiful.

steff

oh my god, you so rock! love it, schmutzie, LOVE. IT.

Annalise

Amen. What I love about this, is it reminded me to question what I read. I'm a smart girl, I know I should do this, but sometimes its easy to just take media reports at face value. Thanks for making sure I stay on my toes.

mamalang

As someone else said, she is currently married to a twice convicted felon with gun and narcotic charges. That's a concern. I agree that the fact that she was a porn star shouldn't be the reason she only has daytime visitation. I also read another article that quoted her as stating she wanted to live near Jesse James and Sandra Bullock, and perhaps Jesse would sign for a house for her to do so. Both parents need to step up and do what's best for the child, and unfortunately, she hasn't made the best choices in that area. Ultimately, it's the little girl who loses.

Tracey

It really isn't just PORN STAR's who have this issue, a lot of women seem to be identified by their jobs or status in life rather than their own actual identities. ie ex-wife of XXX, former model, child star...or even in everday life. How many times have you said - Hi, this is Mary's mother, insert name here.

PS - Am I the only person who thought when looking at the first picture of Lindemulder, "Does that shirt actually SAY - PORN STAR?"




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