Op-Eds Opinions

Political Op-Ed: Porn, College, and Sexual Freedom

By [Zachary Martell 17] [Guest Writer]

Belle Knox, the famous online “Duke University Porn Star,” has inspired uproar across the board from small time news channels, big name media corporations, feminist (and chauvinist) blog sites, political commentators, and academics such as university professors. In an attempt to settle the vicious “slut shaming” and “whorish” accusations being forced upon her daily, Knox has appeared on mainstream television shows such as The View to voice her experiences working in the porn industry. She initially assumed the role of a porn star to pay for her otherwise overwhelming university tuition, but has now broadened her outlook on the benefits bestowed upon women by the porn industry. Knox cites financial independence, celebrity status, heightened self-esteem, and increased sexual freedom as motives to continue her role as an adult actress throughout her college career.

Rather than dwelling on the specific details of her story, many in favor of Knox’s activism focus on the implications for women across the globe. A strong movement has emerged, comprised primarily of women who support Knox in her efforts to achieve what she defines as independence and unrelinquished sexuality – not what others impose on her. The right to pursue feminine expression and personal independence dominate the conversation.

The prominent question that has been hoisted into the national spotlight by the emergence of Belle Knox is whether pornography ultimately enforces or destroys traditional gender roles.

Knox is right to parade her independence- financial and sexual- as benchmarks of an equal society. Throughout history women have suffered some of the heaviest burdens of society and still carry the weight of the past regardless of the lifestyles they choose today. Whether it is in the job market or the bedroom, women have been ushered towards the rear of the stage, into a life of social piety, sexual repression and financial dependence.

Beyond these basic principles, I have to break ties with the fledgling movement. Whereas sexual liberation is the pinnacle ideal of Knox’s career, severe objectification and sexual violence are the principle proponents of our behemoth porn industry.

The advertising industry is destructive enough to women’s sexuality. The porn industry charges past it only stopping by the gym to pump itself with new and improved steroids every few years. Producers and consumers have engaged in a symbiotic relationship for money and new thrills that have driven the average porn scene to a brutal low standard. Freshman performances are now characterized by obscene displays of gymnastics in an attempt to, quite figuratively, catapult over the competition. Because of this, a race to the bottom is created and the average career of an adult actress lasts between 6 and 18 months until they are kicked to the curb, saddled with inerasable footage of their acting online and no employable skills.

The conventional categories of pornography cement traditional gender roles by pigeonholing women into already played-out characters. Consider that there is really only one “adult actress” in the eyes of the average viewer: jet black or bleached hair, oversized breasts, stiletto heels, fishnet stockings, and that empty look and absence of personality. Sexual expression in mainstream pornography is limited to only what the consumer wishes to hear and the producer makes money on.

Belle Knox and her fellow actresses have every right to earn a living however they chose. No matter what her life choices are, Knox and her counterparts do not deserve to be shamed. In my view the curvy figure and hollow smile of most porn stars still continue to illicit our shameful past rather than a potentially bright future, one that Knox would approve of.

 

 

 

 

About the author

Zachary Martell