Porn Stars Have Rights Too

*Trigger Warning: Sexually Explicit Content

“To be clear: My experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.”

With that statement in her interview with XOJane, the Duke University student, with an active career as a porn star, made jaws drop. Her story is every tabloid magazine’s dream: a female student at an elite university who voluntarily turns to the disgraceful world of pornography and (gasp!) enjoys it.

It didn’t take very long for word about this freshman’s job as a sex worker to spread like wild fire. It also didn’t take long for a search to uncover the identity of this student to launch into a full-scale witch hunt that would put the likes of Blair Witch to shame.

 The student, who is referred to as “Lauren” in order to keep her identity confidential, explains in the article with XOJane that, after Duke’s winter break, she noticed a massive influx of friend requests from random males students on Facebook. She admits to being flattered at first…“maybe I actually am pretty and nice and not awkward, I thought…” until a student in her grade followed her 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.”

And so, the wave of attacks, threats, and name-calling commenced:

Eric Owens, at The Daily Caller starts his piece by stating, “The sex-worker student doesn’t want her real name revealed—or even her adorably slutty porn name revealed—despite the fact that she has now done at least two interviews, written a monologue about herself and been invited to speak in various Duke classes on the topic of sex work.” He continues by calling her efforts to keep her identity a secret a “charade”…clearly, Mr. Owens, the confidentiality of her identity ensures her safety and protects her livelihood as a student. If she is going to publicize her views and air out such personal information, she should, at a BARE MINIMUM, be allowed to remain anonymous. Owens also seemed shocked that a woman who voluntarily participates in pornography would have such intelligent views about feminism. He clearly did not have any consideration for her feelings as a human being when he wrote, “Lauren had much to get off her (apparently 32-C) chest.” People like Owens sicken me. Unfortunately, it gets worse.

The comments made on chat boards, such as the one found on CollegiateACB, are what made Lauren come forward in the first place. In this particular discussion thread (which is now over 20 pages long) dives in a hideous discussion that sheds light on how sexual empowerment, in the feminist context, is perceived in the minds of many (primarily male students.) Examples of posts found on this thread with the subject line, “Freshman Pornstar,” include: “If you banged her, report in,” “I’ll definitely fuck you. Lets do it. I’ll pay your tuition,” and my personal favorite (I’m being sarcastic, if you couldn’t tell), “posting before some feminist starts shouting about ‘dont slut shame!!!!!!!!! if i wanna take ten black dicks at once thats my choice and i still deserve respect!!!!!!!’” Another anonymous poster commented, “[are] we going to pretend like she was unaware of the social consequences of going into that business? she made a decision, now she needs to live with the consequences.”

These comments, the harassment, and disgusting articles written about this woman all point to a one hugely painful implication: By voluntarily working as a porn star, Lauren has inevitably surrendered all of her rights as a feminist, woman, and most importantly a human being. Let that sink in…

Lauren’s right to personhood has been denied because she has made choices that challenge the norm. People, and society in general, cannot seem to fathom the idea that Lauren is not only pursuing a career in the porn industry because her “family has undergone significant financial burden,” and she had to find a way to “afford a $60,000 tuition at Duke University”—she is doing it because, “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 know very little about porn, but I do know what my version of feminism stands for. I know that if our society’s stigmatization of a certain career is so hurtful that people cannot enjoy their lives outside of their jobs without being harassed, threatened, and shamed to the point that their inherent rights as a human being (i.e. FREEDOM OF CHOICE) are robbed of them, that stigma needs to be challenged, and shoved right up society’s brainwashed ass.  

One thought on “Porn Stars Have Rights Too

  1. Holla! Thanks for sharing this story! Sex work and porn is even stigmatized in the feminist community, so it’s especially important to share this perspective. Love, love, love. Unfortunately, we have a long fight ahead of us in dismantling the shame and stigma surrounding sex.

    Like

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