Aaron

Belle Knox, Duke University Porn Star Tells Her Story

July Westhale’s Avatar Article by Blog Slixa Late Night

The thoughtful advice and opinions of the author of this article are meant to be informative and entertaining and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Slixa.

Dear Internet,

Surely, by now, you know all about the Duke University porn star freshman who was outed by a classmate unconsentually and then chose to fiercely advocate for herself and other sex workers by going public about her work? If not, you can read about it here, here, here, and here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here while you read all about it.

Ready? So by now you know that Belle Knox, who was formally known in the adult entertainment industry as Lauren A., came forward to tell her story and do damage control after a classmate outed her career to the entire Greek system at Duke. Taking an extremely public stand in the name of sex worker advocacy, Knox was asked to write for xoJane (above) and Playboy SFW in order to tell her side of the story.

Despite unimaginable threats to her life, online bullying and harassment, as well as public ridicule at Duke, Knox has stood strong in her decisions to do porn as a career, stating “I find it interesting that porn (a billion-dollar industry) is consumed by millions of people -- men and women (and all other equally wonderful genders) alike -- yet no one is willing to consider the lives of the people behind the camera. No one wants to hear about the abuses and exploitation that take place, no one wants to hear about the violence committed every day against sex workers, no one wants to consider that we have hopes and dreams and ambitions. No, all we are is "whores and bimbos."

I reject this. Instead, what I ask for is simple. I, like all other sex workers, want to be treated with dignity and respect. I want equal representation under the law and within societal institutions. I want people to acknowledge our humanity. I want people to listen to our unique narratives and dialogues.”

Knox has equally succinct and articulate feedback for the anti-porn feminists who have taken personal offense by her online presence (as in this article in the Huffington Post) by stating that slut-shaming or public degradation of women who do sex work is problematic to feminist ideals because it places even more blame on women: “To the anti-pornography feminists out there: I very much respect your opinion. Nevertheless, I want you to consider how you marginalize a group of women by condemning their actions. Consider that when you demean women for participating in sex work, you are demeaning THEM, and consequently, YOU become the problem.

Please do not continue to make the mistake you have made in the past of ignoring the voices of minority communities. Listen. Listen to the women who have for so long been silenced. Listen to their thoughts and their needs. Only then can we achieve solidarity and true progress within our movement.”

The duality of what Knox is discussing is particularly poignant in regards to the ways in which the media (feminists and non-feminists alike) is responding to her outing; both obsessively interested in her porn career on a consumer level (Knox receives thousands of views a day on her videos) as well as ceaselessly shaming, the contradictory appraisal and criticism is typical of how women in sex work are received and mistreated on the regular. Though Knox was in the position (both in terms of privilege and access, as well as in character) to come forward and put herself on the line, the typical narrative is anything but similar hers, and the majority of adult service providers are asked to keep silent and clandestine about their work.

As she says in xoJane “I may never have a normal life again. But if I've exposed the insanity and the unfair standards that all women and especially my sisters in the sex industry face -- if I’ve challenged the way that people view female sexuality -- then this journey has been worth it. Society tries to tell women that our worth is contingent upon the secrecy of our sexuality, but I will not be silenced. Because, for anyone who is telling me to "shut up," please dissuade yourself right now of the delusion that you control or own me. It is not your right or your place to tell me to be silent.”


More reading...

The Science of Kissing: What Your Make Out Desires Say About You

A new book by Sheril Kirshenbaum explores what our lips are telling us, and how we can listen to the animals of our bodies.

To Criminalize Or Not to Criminalize? The E.U. Debates Whether Or Not To Make Prostitution Illegal

After Canada’s revolutionary decriminalization bill that passed in January of this year, the tidal wave of conversation around whether or not to make buying sex illegal in various countries.

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