The XX Factor

Scott Walker Ordered a Woman Fired Because She Modeled Thongs. Scott Walker Would Love Reddit.

You see, women who wear sexy underwear can never be doctors.

Pool photo by Andy Wong/Getty Images

Should sexy women get to be doctors? It appears that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker thinks not. Among the various revelations that have come out of a nascent political scandal regarding the misuse of government resources by Walker’s staff when he was a county executive running for governor, one of the most petty has to be that Walker ordered the firing of a doctor at the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division because she once modeled underwear.

The order was discovered in the thousands of pages of emails recently released by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Walker’s chief of staff at the time, Thomas Nardelli, emailed Walker to alert him to the supposedly scandalous revelation that this doctor, who Nardelli admits was checked out through “all professional channels to determine credentials,” had “a checkered past.” The evidence of the checkered past? She has “done some modeling work” that “isn’t pornographic, but is quite suggestive,” including modeling thong underwear.

Walker replied with, “Get rid of the MD asap,” though the Behavioral Health Division has not confirmed if that actually happened. Email tone is notoriously easy to misread, but what is startling here is the apparent lack of hesitation, as if it’s immediately clear that underwear modeling is so beyond the pale that any woman who participates should face lifelong employment repercussions. 

Of course, Walker is far from the only person who seems to think that women who are sexy in public need to be penalized. Reddit has become home to a large group of men who have made a mission out of such punishments. Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon writes this week about how an Olympic volunteer who was photographed with her shirt halfway rolled up at the Sochi Games so bedeviled these men on Reddit that they made it their job to “dox” her—that is, expose as much of her personal information as possible online. “From when her first pic showed up,” wrote one Reddit user, “I knew that chick was looking for this attention.” And this “looking for attention” seems to be the catch-all excuse to justify any level of doxxing or harassment. 

As Clark-Flory writes, this is hardly a unique circumstance. Women are routinely doxxed and harassed on Reddit for the perceived crime of being sexy. She reports on a variety of women, some who posted anonymous pictures of sexy poses and some who weren’t even trying to be sexy with their selfies, who have found their names and contact information floated in retaliation. It seems that there are all different ways to chastise women for showing skin. In this regard, the creeps on Reddit and the governor of Wisconsin are on the same page.