Bringing The Profession Into Disrepute


Rachel WhitwellRachel Whitwell, a former teacher was deregistered after being investigated by the New Zealand Teachers Council after posing naked in Penthouse. Someone complained that “her actions had brought the profession into disrepute”. The NZTC said her actions “…reflect[ed] badly on her fitness to be a teacher and the profession as a whole.” Two of the five members disagreed with the conclusion.

I’m not sure how much control she had over the shoot, but posing over a school desk wasn’t the best idea. Nor was the magazine deciding to focus on her role as a teacher, allegedly quoting Whitwell as saying: “I am submissive in the bedroom because during the day I have to be in control in the classroom.” She denies this and says she was never interviewed by the magazine. I don’t think it would be uncommon for those magazines to use “creative licence”.

Magazines like Penthouse are legal in New Zealand and so is modeling for them. Whitwell wasn’t working as a teacher at the time, however I’m not sure if it should have been a huge issue if she had been. She was working as a primary school teacher, so her being posing naked wouldn’t end up being spread around the playground. Even if she was working at a high school where the chances of students finding out are higher, it should still be her personal choice.

Peter O’Neill brings up a few good points. Where does the line stop? Whitwell worked as a model and this is arguably modeling. What if a teacher was also an author, but the novels she wrote were racy? Is a teacher allowed to be atheist, be pro-choice, support marijuana legalization, have extreme political opinions or hunt animals? If they don’t identify themselves as a teacher while doing so, is that reflecting badly on the profession?

Having different morals doesn’t make someone a bad person. Modeling nude doesn’t reflect on someone’s ability as a teacher.

I wonder if someone could explain what harm was caused?

Update: Guess who the sole complainant was.

Image credit: RadioLive/Penthouse

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