Columnist: porn star is a ‘liberal feminist’

By DEYALYN BATISTA

Contributing Writer

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We always hear the same stories of college students putting themselves through school by waiting tables or babysitting or simple things of the sort, so when Duke University students found out that one of their freshman classmates took to porn to pay for her education, the story spread like wildfire. People were outraged, and still are.

The young woman, feeling harassed and bullied by her classmates, felt the need to explain her personal decision on social media under a fake name. She explains that she could not afford her dream school, and porn was a fun way to get through her education debt-free. After about a week since she published the article on the website, xoJane, she realized her classmates were outing her real name and decided to reveal her porn star name, Belle Knox.

Although as a feminist, I have some bones to pick with the porn industry, all this hate being thrown at Belle is highly misdirected. Most people would say that what she is doing is wrong, but I call her a liberal feminist. Liberal feminism is the idea that a woman should be able to do what she pleases with her body and her life, regardless of social norms. It does not mean that a woman who gets married and becomes a housewife cannot be a true feminist, it just means that she must do it because it is what she truly wants. The same goes for a woman who chooses to have sex on camera for money. Belle calls her experience “supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.”

This is not to say that a lot of the public’s concerns with the porn industry are not valid. As much as I respect the art of porn myself, I surely recognize the problems with the industry as a whole. It can be rather misogynistic and racist in some forms. However, I believe that it is all about perspective, as well as choice.

When looking at a scene where the girl is getting spat on and called a whore (descriptive of some scenes Belle participates in), it is easy to automatically write that off as abusive and demeaning to women. What people need to understand is that some women enjoy this kind of treatment, it is a kink, and it is not fair to say that what they enjoy is harmful to their entire species.

What becomes problematic is when men see this and assume that every woman has that same kink, and that has to do with the way the porn industry markets these scenes, not the porn stars themselves. At the same time, there are so many other areas in porn portraying women as dominant characters in bed, and no one has anything to say about that.

An article that I read about Belle discussed how porn is ruled by the thin white girl, and that an Asian girl would not have the ability to put herself through school doing porn the same way Belle does. I agree with the fact that the norm for most porn sites is the big-chested blonde girl and that all other races in porn are sometimes put into their own little fetish categories. An Asian girl could definitely make the same amount of money as Belle though, or even more, she’d just have a smaller range of sites to perform in.

Still, it is a problem, but the porn industry is not fully to blame. In fact, the root of all this is the media. Hollywood and magazines have set a standard of beauty that is almost unreachable for most women.

The reason why people come across porn whose women fit these beauty standards is because that is what  the viewers demand the most. The truth is that there are all kinds of body types and races contributing to porn.

It’s all a matter of the viewer’s choice. It is not fair to blame porn for perpetuating these standards, when in fact, we’ve been bombarded by these marginalizing ideologies since before we could even speak, let alone even know what porn is. We ought to not confuse the cause for the effect.

Although I do respect and often defend the porn industry, I, like Belle, do realize that not all women have a great experience with it, and their voices must be heard as well. Half of these women should’ve never started doing porn in the first place; it simply is not for everyone, especially not for those who only do it for the money.

The other half of these women were probably working under sketchy, nonprofessional staff that took advantage of women who did not know any better. This scary side to porn is never going to change, however, unless people start looking at the porn industry as they would any other industry, without the stigma.

After the stigma is abandoned, work could be done to regulate and monitor certain policies and activities. There are thousands of industries that are even more exploitive depending on your definition of the word. I could see why having sex for money would be a lot more fun and humanizing than waiting tables at shake shack.

Belle is  simply doing what she enjoys, while getting an education as well, so  I say more power to her!