One of the big “stories” this week has been a woman who attends Duke University, who was outed as a porn star by one of the guys who attends university with her. To me, it was only a matter of time, but she decided to “out” herself, by revealing her porn name, which happens to be Belle Knox. Personally, I’ve never heard the name before, and as much as I’d like to say it’s because I never look at porn, to be honest, I just never heard that porn name before.
Part of the effort she is currently going through is to get on top of the story, so that she can tell her narrative, rather than have the media drive the narrative for her. Just last week, there was a story through the media of the woman who suffered the scandal with Anthony Weiner. She decided she needed to somehow become involved in the story of this woman who was now being outed at Duke University.
Now, this is one of those stories that can attract all sorts of sensationalism, but that’s not why I wish to discuss it. Instead, what interested me about this story was the ramifications involved in a woman’s desire to utilize a pornography career in order to pay for her education. It’s easy to take an overly moralistic perspective and condemn such actions, as well as it’s just as easy to take the pro-prurient perspective and state unequivocally that what someone does with his or her body is really his or her own affair, and who cares. Instead, like I indicated, I would like to talk about the ramifications.
For that, I’ll bring up the case of Sasha Grey, a porn star who attempted to leave the business and become a non-porn actress. All fine. But then she was booked to give readings to children, and suddenly the moral majority of America went up in flames, believing that if a porn star should ever read children’s books to children, somehow that would cause the world to explode. Or whatever was their concern.
But getting back to the original issue, which is a porn actress being outed for her extracurricular activities that paid for her education, I find myself going back to my own experience in college, where I started to discover how many of the women around me were actually paying their bills through the adult entertainment industry. Some were strippers at night clubs, some were professional dominants who got paid to tie up guys and sexual arouse them, while others were making pornography, and a number were working as call girls to afford their tuition and living expenses. If it was just one woman or two, I could see it being anecdotal, but it was extremely prevalent during just a few years back when I was going to college.
What I think a lot of people don’t understand is that the behavior is not that unusual. Yet, what seems to be the situation here is that people are under the impression that somehow this is some kind of outlier situation. What they don’t want to believe is that there might be a lot of “normal” women out there who are funding their education through prurient methods. It’s nice to believe that everyone is following the Biblical moral standards they want to push forth, but in reality, people are living in the real world, doing real world things, and sometimes those things involve sexual behavior.
The problem is that people who tend to be as guilty as everyone else, as the purveyors of pornography and adult services is far greater than anyone wants to admit (it wouldn’t be that profitable if it wasn’t), really want to believe the reality is much different than it actually is. I’ll give you a simple example that people don’t even address, and that’s something as simple as literature. As a fiction writer, I find the market for my fiction to be very limiting and very difficult to break into. However, if I was to publish a book of erotica instead of espionage fiction, statistics have shown that even if the writing was atrociously bad in comparison to my normal writing, my sales would go through the roof because of the genre alone. Someone’s buying all of this stuff, and it’s not some strange people living in caves (although there’s nothing wrong with you if you do live in a cave…just saying).
Which brings me back to Belle Knox. I don’t know anything about her. She could be a great person. She could be better with children than I am (which isn’t that hard to be, by the way). Or she could hate kids. Who knows? And really, who cares? What’s being thrown out there is the idea that because she did pornography that somehow she’s going to be a disruptive influence on “normal” people. Really? How is that? Does someone who makes his or her money from pornography somehow become delinquent around other people now, constantly trying to force them into sexual situations. Or perhaps because someone once had sex for money, that person is now likely to be a bank robber who might gun down a school bus filled with penguins. I’ve never really understood the connection.
What I can ascertain is that people who are highly religious might not like the idea that someone who lives a life of pornography might not have a lot of room for an institution that likes to put people into categories of good and bad. To be honest, I live a more chaste life than a priest (one actually doing what he’s supposed to be doing), but I’ve never felt the need to point fingers at other people and demand they live a similar kind of existence. Back in my day, I was a lot different than I am today, but I would like to think that responsible people wouldn’t have condemned me back then for exploring life and its many nuances any more than I have any intentions of doing the same kinds of negativity to others today.
What really saddens me (and you’d have to read the woman’s article to understand where I’m coming from), but that woman has now been forced into a corner where she feels the needs to condemn people who consume pornography as being just as bad. I don’t even think she realizes that her article makes the same mistake that those make about her. Unless she’s ashamed of her career in pornography, then there should be absolutely no negativity waged towards the activity or those who participate (and consume) it. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to get pulled into that sort of thing.
One of my books actually addresses this issue at length, but does it through humor. My book The Ameriad, has a section that redefines Plato’s three metals by explaining how the perfect life is that that involves pornography, the creators of pornography and those who consume it. By exploring as much of carnal desires as possible, one is capable of achieving “bowlness” which is a state of having a completely filled (and full) life. Yes, it was a running joke through the book, but there was a point to it, basically to show how our values are set by those who set values, not by any higher power that hasn’t actually taken the opportunity to explain it to the rest of us stupid people. Well, there are a few “sources” of that explanation in the multiple religions out there, so I won’t quibble over that. What I will quibble with is the idea that no two segments of the same religion can agree with each other what their official texts even mean, and that should cause someone to at least think about it. Or not.
Either way, I wish this woman well, and I hope that she finds some peace while at Duke (or after deciding to leave it, hopefully by her own choice and not through intimidation). The life she led may have been horrible, enjoyable, unfeeling, or whatever. But that life she led shouldn’t have to dictate how she is forced to spend the rest of her life, or even how she has to feel about waking up as herself in the morning. Who she is right now is how she should be treated right now, and unless she killed people, kicked a puppy or hated stuffed animals, pretty much most things can be forgiven, forgotten or ignored.