Gibson’s Scandal, But For Whom?

According to her campaign mailer, she’s a nurse practitioner and mother of two kids running as a Democrat for the 57th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. According to the New York Times, she’s the victim of the illegal violation of her privacy.

But according to the Washington Post, this candidate for office has a side hustle doing internet porn with her husband, a lawyer.

A Democrat running for a crucial seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates performed sex acts with her husband for a live online audience and encouraged viewers to pay them with “tips” for specific requests, according to online videos viewed by The Washington Post.

Susanna Gibson, a nurse practitioner and mother of two young children running in a highly competitive suburban Richmond district, streamed sex acts on Chaturbate, a platform that says it takes its name from “the act of masturbating while chatting online.”

This raises a stunning host of issues on many levels, most of which are “answered” with nothing more than a disingenuous political litmus test. On the twitters, I asked if this was a matter of legitimate public concern.

The replies were curious mostly for the wrong reasons. Was this a referendum on Dems, women, porn, sex work, or the general dishonesty and whorishness of politicians? While none of that addresses the question posed, it was nonetheless where almost everyone went, each according to their own personal priorities and values.

In certain quarters, this was immediately chalked up to revenge porn, although it’s a huge stretch to analogize a person who is a candidate for public office, then revealed to intentionally perform online sex acts for money, with a person whose girlfriend put his dick pics online to make him pay for breaking up with her. But this is why it matters whether this video, now available to some extent publicly if you care to look for it, is fair game for a candidate for public office.

For her part, Gibson is taking the position that she’s the victim of a sex scandal. Not that it wasn’t of her own making, but she never expected to have it publicly know.

Susanna Gibson, a nurse practitioner running in her first election cycle, said in a statement that the leaks about the online activity were “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.”

On her campaign website, she promotes herself as a public health expert, wearing scrubs. Has she put her occupation(s) into issue? According to her lawyer, it’s being pursued as a crime.

Daniel P. Watkins, a lawyer for Ms. Gibson, said it was unlawful in the state to record someone in a state of undress and distribute it to a third party without that person’s consent.

“It’s illegal and it’s disgusting to disseminate this kind of material, and we’re working closely with the F.B.I. and local prosecutors to bring the wrongdoers to justice,” Mr. Watkins said.

Of course, that’s not remotely the scenario and it’s almost certainly not criminal. Watkins’ claim that they’re “working closely” with the FBI and local prosecutors is almost certainly puffery, if not an outright lie. Even more to the point, if Gibson claims its revelation was designed to “humiliate” her, then this fact is clearly something that potential voters would want to know.

Indeed, the contention that it would be illegal to reveal truthful information about a candidate for public office that would influence voters is a reflection of the unconstitutionality of revenge porn laws. If it would matter to voters, whether as a reflection of her judgment, her morals, or her exposure to extortion, wouldn’t that make it critical information about a candidate?

Many of those responding took the position that a person’s sex life and legal selling it online for money is nobody’s business but her own. The argument is “so what” for those who see this as a non-issue. But that it may be a non-issue to some, whether because of their feelings about sex or online porn doesn’t make it a non-issue to others, also with the same right to vote based on whatever values they hold. Perhaps it won’t change their vote. Perhaps it will. But that’s up to each voter to decide, and just because some find it a “nothing burger” doesn’t mean others can’t find it a whopper.

But even for those dismissing this as a non-issue, there is an element of disingenuousness about it. Would it be a non-issue if it turned out to be someone they despised, a MTG or Gaetz for example? Is this mere partisanship when the taboo of porn is dismissed as to their candidate but an outrage if it were Boebert in the video?

The issue isn’t whether porn is good or bad, or whether it’s better worse than things other candidates for public office do. The issue is whether the public has a legitimate interest in knowing that a candidate for office is doing this, whether it’s right or wrong.

To a significant extent, the extent of “disgust” about it is a matter of Gibson’s response. She could have owned it, claiming she does it, there’s nothing wrong with it, and it has no bearing on her ability to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. In some quarters, she would have been a hero for doing so, bold and fierce, unashamed by engaging in a natural act that should no longer be hidden behind drawn curtains.

But she didn’t take that position, instead making it a sordid scandal. Granted, a bold stance by Gibson may not have persuaded voters to see it her way, but at least she would have maintained her online porn side hustle with dignity. Instead, she labeled it humiliating, and argued voters should never have known. If she was ashamed of its revelation, then it’s impossible to deny that it’s a matter of legitimate public concern. What becomes of it is up to the voters to decide.

17 thoughts on “Gibson’s Scandal, But For Whom?

  1. Elpey P.

    Her lawyer: “it’s disgusting to disseminate this kind of material”

    Journalism: “The New York Times has not independently verified the content of the videos.”

    Some pretty amusing own goals there.

  2. Pedantic Gammar Police

    “According to the New York Times, she’s the victim of the illegal violation of her privacy.”

    By this logic, if Marilyn Chambers starts to regret the mistakes of her youth, it would become illegal to watch The Babysitter. Is it revenge porn, or “regret porn”?

  3. Chaswjd

    If she performed sex acts with her husband in the expectation of receiving payment, she may have violated Virginia’s prostitution statute. Whether or not one believes this should be illegal, the fact that a candidate may have repeatedly violated the laws of her jurisdiction certainly would be of public interest.

  4. Rengit

    There’s a widespread attitude among under-30 women (this is an issue that keeps popping up with e-celebrities and OnlyFans) that you should be able to do sex work, porn, whatever, on the internet, and then have it mean absolutely nothing to the rest of your life, your reputation, people you know, or strangers on the internet. There should be no judgments and it should have no consequences, and if you change your mind you should be able to hide and conceal that part of your life, including immediately getting proof of it removed from the internet, on a whim. Despite the fact that you’re taking in a bunch of money from strangers and showing your butthole to all the world, it’s an entirely private matter. To the extent people would use this against you, or just hold it against you, it should be illegal.

  5. Henry Berry

    As I say at times, I’m old school. If you don’t want people saying you did something you did, don’t do it. The new school posture is: Do whatever you want — then try to shame the ones saying you did it, apologize extravagantly (and emptily), threaten the ones who say you did it, admit, alas, you’re only human, deny what you did if you think it is at all possible that this route will work, and on inspired by what will probably be the only creative thing (i. e., excuse, cover-up) you do in your life.

    1. Howl

      I got no problem with that. Great find, all the vids of the actual show are low quality, but this is good. I gotta bookmark this.

    2. Raymond Lee

      I’m late on this one but worth noting (to me at least) that while the posts are consistently top shelf, the regular commenters make the site better. Soft tummy rub for Howl!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I believe the sound bite is,”sex work is,real work” and the Internet is forever (unless you’re Taylor Lorenz who calls her daddy to erase when she wants stuff memory holed). I suppose chaturbate seemed like good idea at the time but claiming victimhood instead of owning it is lame, hypocritical and reason to vote for another candidate.

  7. Turk

    The question is one of judgment. One must assume that anything we place online, even under the pretense of anonymity, will be discovered. How would we feel if it appeared on the front page, above the fold?

    (Cue Kashmir Hill and anything she’s written on facial recognition tech.)

    Who is hurt by the lack of judgment? Two small children, because children can be cruel. No matter the justifications and rationalizations that the parents give to them, this will follow them for quite some time.

    Is such a lack of judgment enough to make one vote for the other party? It wouldn’t be for me. But it might make me strongly consider others within the same party as better candidates.

  8. LY

    While I, personally, don’t really approve of the behaviour for various reasons I find her reaction to the revealing of it to be more telling and indicative of her fitness for public office. And, as others have already said, if you put it out there don’t be surprised when it goes public.

  9. The Caboose

    These postings are getting weirder and weirder. Why do I have to read this stuff, and en-“suing ” comments? Just sayin!

  10. Ken

    For what it is worth, this probably could be prosecuted in Virginia under the revenge porn statute:
    § 18.2-386.2(A) Any person who, with the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate, maliciously disseminates or sells any videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts another person who is totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, where such person knows or has reason to know that he is not licensed or authorized to disseminate or sell such videographic or still image is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    Further, if she really wanted to pursue the charge she could go to the magistrate herself, name the disseminator, and swear out the misdemeanor, without any involvement of LEO’s or the prosecutor (at least until the court date).

    Virginia’s a one party consent state for using video or audio, § 19.2-66(b)(2), so I don’t think any charges can rise from the recording of the computer video which was put out to be interacted with.

    And, yes, I understand she might not know who the paper’s source(s?) is. I also realize this is not the situation the revenge porn statute was created to address. I’m merely pointing out the breadth of the language.


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