I know 99% of you guys are here to get excited about the BWL women—fine by me!—so skip this; nothing erotic here. But none of us escape a certain reflection regarding our love for porn and eroticism. What’s more, this kind of strong, confident woman totally empowered by her sexuality is exactly the kind of woman we worship on this site.
I found this through facebook on http://www.dailyhiit.com, posted by MK Morris. A Duke University freshman, “Lauren”, was outed as a porn star recently and there has been major fallout ever since.
She sat down with the Duke Chronicle to give her side on the issue, and had some interesting points about repressed sexuality and perceived notions about her profession.
With a $60,000/year tuition, starring in porn is certainly going to pay off those student loans faster than a waitressing gig, which Lauren has tried before. She comments that she actually found waitressing to be more degrading than working in the porn industry, and that she enjoys the sexual freedom she gets from her job.
The interview didn’t do much good, as Lauren still receives messages threatening sexual violence, slut-shaming her, or asking for sex. It’s not like she was forced into the sex trade, she enjoys starring in porn, it’s not a necessary career choice, it’s an ideal one for her. I actually think she’s managed to deal with the situation with a considerable amount of aplomb, posting a personal response that is a really great read and pretty eye-opening:
“But why would you do porn?”
People often ask me this question. They know I am a freshman at Duke University, and their shock and incredulity are apparent when the rumor they’ve heard whispered or read on a chat board turns out to be true.
However, the answer is actually quite simple. I couldn’t afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I absolutely love. Because to be clear: My experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.
The next question is always: “But when you graduate, you won’t be able to get a job, will you? I mean, who would hire you?”
I simply shrug and say, “I wouldn’t want to work for someone who discriminates against sex workers.”
I am not ashamed of porn. On the contrary, doing pornography fulfills me. That said, I vehemently want to have my privacy respected — and I ask that anyone who knows my real name respect the fact that I am only discussing this publicly because it was made a public matter when I was confronted by a fraternity member who chose to tell hundreds of other men in the Greek scene.
That’s why I am writing this. That’s why I gave an interview to the student newspaper at Duke. Because if people are going to talk about you, you might as well control the conversation and use it to start a dialogue, which in this case is about the abuses we inflict on sex workers.
One of the facts Internet commenters have gotten very wrong is accusing me of participating in “rape fantasy porn.” This is a horrifying accusation, but I absolutely understand where people are coming from. The site in question that I shot for is a rough sex website. That is how I perceived it at the time. I was not coerced or harmed in any way during the filming of the scene. Everything I did was consensual. I also stand by and defend the right of adult performers to engage in rough sex porn.
Everyone has their kinks and we should not shame anyone for enjoying something that is perfectly legal and consensual for all parties involved.
Of course, I do fully acknowledge that some women don’t have such a positive experience in the industry. We need to listen to these women. And to do that we need to remove the stigma attached to their profession and treat it as a legitimate career that needs regulation and oversight. We need to give a voice to the women that are exploited and abused in the industry. Shaming and hurling names at them, the usual treatment we give sex workers, is not the way to achieve this.
For me, shooting pornography brings me unimaginable joy. When I finish a scene, I know that I have done so and completed an honest day’s work. It is my artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home.
I can say definitively that I have never felt more empowered or happy doing anything else. In a world where women are so often robbed of their choice, I am completely in control of my sexuality. As a bisexual woman with many sexual quirks, I feel completely accepted. It is freeing, it is empowering, it is wonderful, it is how the world should be.
It is the exact opposite of the culture of slut-shaming and rape apology which I have experienced from certain dark corners of the Internet since being recognized on campus a few months ago.
It has been a rude wake-up call to say the least.
The storm began when I came back to school from Christmas break, happy and confident in myself. I was only a week in when I found myself being bombarded by friend requests on Facebook from random male students. At first, I didn’t think anything of it. I was a bit flattered to be honest (maybe I actually am pretty and nice and not awkward, I thought), but then, the unthinkable happened: a student in my grade followed my alter ego on Twitter.
When I got the notification, my heart stopped.
I stood there shaking in disbelief and fear. I knew what was coming next: fear, humiliation, shame, threats, name calling.
What I did not expect was that I would be brutally bullied and harassed online. I did not expect that every private detail about my life would be dissected. I did not expect that my intelligence and work ethic would be questioned and criticized. And I certainly did not expect that extremely personal information concerning my identity and whereabouts would be so carelessly transmitted through college gossip boards. I was called a “slut who needs to learn the consequences of her actions,” a “huge fucking whore,” and, perhaps the most offensive, “a little girl who does not understand her actions.”
Let’s be clear about one thing: I know exactly what I’m doing. What about you?
My entire life, I have, along with millions of other girls, been told that sex is a degrading and shameful act. When I was 5 years old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off.
The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.
The prevailing societal brainwashing dictates that sexuality and sex “reduce” women, whereas men are merely innocent actors on the receiving end. By extension, our virginity or abstinence has a bearing on who we are as people — as good people or bad people, as nice women or bad women.
Women’s ability to be moral actors is wholly dependent on their sexuality. It is, honestly, insane.
The virgin-whore dichotomy is an insidious standard that we have unfairly placed upon women. Women are supposed to be outwardly pure and modest, while at the same time being sexually alluring and available. If a woman does not have sex after a date, she will be labeled as a prude. If she does have sex, she will be referred to later as a ho or a slut.
Society thus sets up a norm in which women simply cannot win.
We must question in this equation why sex workers are so brutally stigmatized. Why do we exclude them for jobs, education, and from mainstream society?
Why do we scorn, threaten and harass them?
Why do we deny them of their personhood?
Why does the thought of a woman having sexual experiences scare us so much?
The answer is simple.
Patriarchy fears female sexuality.
It terrifies us to even fathom that a woman could take ownership of her body. We deem to keep women in a place where they are subjected to male sexuality. We seek to rob them of their choice and of their autonomy. We want to oppress them and keep them dependent on the patriarchy. A woman who transgresses the norm and takes ownership of her body — because that’s exactly what porn is, no matter how rough the sex is — ostensibly poses a threat to the deeply ingrained gender norms that polarize our society.
I am well aware: The threat I pose to the patriarchy is enormous. That a woman could be intelligent, educated and CHOOSE to be a sex worker is almost unfathomable.
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.
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.
I ask people to deconstruct why they treat female sexuality with such disdain.
Why do we call women sluts and whores? Why do we use synonyms for prostitute as some of the worst insults in the English language? Why do we shame rape victims for the unspeakably heinous crime committed against them? Why is the first question out of many people’s mouths: “What was she wearing the night in question?” Why do we condemn a woman who has had multiple sexual partners outside of marriage?
Think about it. Be very honest with yourself. You may be surprised by the answers.
As for my professional career, I have no current plans to quit porn and I refuse to let ignorant people deprive me of the education that I have worked incredibly hard to achieve.
I am going to graduate, I am going to pursue my dreams and I will hopefully galvanize change in a world wrought with gender norms and sexism.
Just try to stop me.”
Oh, and all of the fraternity guys of Duke University who are slut shaming her for participating in porn would also like you to just not worry about how they found out she was a porn star in the first place. (Hint: by watching porn).