She left out a few details

Miriam Weeks, aka Belle Knox, aka "the Duke University libertarian freshman porn star who's totally empowered by getting nailed hard by men she doesn't know on camera for money", is normally not a figure for whom I would reserve much sympathy. She made her choices, and she has to live with them, just like the rest of us.

As it happens, though, some of the consequences of her choices have not exactly been what she expected:
She looks young, younger than her 18 years. Sitting on a bed in a hotel room wearing baggy pajamas, glasses, and a far-away look, she looks at the camera and says bluntly, “A lot of s**t in my life has been ruined because of sex.”

It is then that you see her eyes. They look somehow old.

Hundreds of thousands of fans know her as Belle Knox, one of the most popular names in porn. The media often refers to her as the “Duke University porn star,” after a classmate revealed that she was paying her tuition by starring in porn shoots. We later discovered that the name her friends and family know her by is Miriam Weeks.

She has been touted far and wide as proof that porn can be empowering and evidence that feminists can sell their bodies as objects and still be, well, “feminist.” Here, porn supporters told us with satisfaction, is a nice girl from a Catholic home who loves to do porn just because she loves sex. Porn is, as Weeks told the cameras, “empowering” and “freeing” and “the way the world should be.”

And then, recently, Weeks did a series of interviews for an upcoming documentary. In them, she paints a much different picture than the freeing, empowering, sex-fueled fantasy world her fans and porn supporters claim she inhabits. 
“The sex industry has a way of making you very cynical and very bitter,” a tired-looking Weeks tells an off-camera interviewer, “In a way I’ve started to become kind of a bit bitter and a bit cynical.” 
Why? “It teaches you to be street smart and not to trust people…I’m so used to being on the lookout for scammers, people who are going to try pimp me out or traffic me. I think my experiences have aged me. I don’t have the mind of an eighteen-year-old. I have the emotional baggage of someone much, much older than me.”

Some of this baggage is what propelled her into the porn industry in the first place. 
In many interviews, Weeks talks obsessively about how porn gives her control over her own sexual destiny: “In porn, everything is on my terms. I can say no whenever I want to. I am in control.” Later on, we discover why this is so important to her: Weeks reveals that she had been raped. “What porn has done for me,” she says firmly, “is it has given me back my agency.”

Even amidst the perverted adulation of porn-addicted fans, however, she still bears the scars of self-loathing. In some cases, literal scars. One day looking in the mirror, she became so overcome with self-hatred that she smashed the mirror and cut herself, slicing the jagged letters “FAT” into the flesh of her thigh. Thus, the reactions of many who found out that she had done porn shoots – who called her “ugly” and “a dumb whore” and said that she “should die” - proved devastating to Miriam. It is this ugly misogyny that increasingly fuels many porn viewers, and gives delusional publications like Salon the excuse they need to claim that working in porn has not hurt Miriam Weeks, but only opponents of porn who try to “shame” her.
Now, if a woman who is of the legal age of consent decides to go into porn, well, that's her decision and her business. If she elects to enter an industry where women are paid to perform sex acts that men (and women) fantasise about, then that's really up to them.

But let's not pretend that those choices come free of consequences.

If you watch various documentaries on the industry, you'll quickly realise that moaning and screaming for the pleasure of anonymous viewers on camera is a rather limited skill set. And ever since the advent of free internet porn, it doesn't pay particularly well. It's difficult, if not impossible, for most porn actresses to build up any level of savings; their work comes without insurance and benefits; and they face the constant risk of disease and injury cutting short their careers.

And then there's the fact that, well, you're instantly recognisable to quite a large chunk of the mainstream public. Given the (often rather justifiable) stigma still extant over sex workers, it is not particularly surprising that most prospective employers find it nearly impossible to move beyond the fact that a woman used to be a porn actress. It's difficult for such women to find employment in mainstream jobs.

So when someone like Belle Knox, who has all of the wisdom and maturity that might be expected of a 20-year-old girl- that is to say, not exactly a whole lot- claims that performing sex acts on camera is "empowering" and "uplifting", well, it's worth taking her words with a very large grain of salt.

It's easy to think of women in porn as nothing but objects, as fantasy models upon which the rest of us can pin our desires. And that, indeed, is precisely what you're supposed to do. But if you actually think about it carefully- not easy, I will admit, given the rather, um, pneumatic qualities and values that the industry promotes, quite deliberately- you'll quickly realise that these are human beings.

Every one of those women is someone's daughter.

And some of these girls come from decent Christian homes that tried to teach their children to be good and upstanding people. For whatever reason, the lessons didn't take. And now the parents have to deal with the reality that their little girl is being drilled- in some cases quite literally given how, er, creative the industry can get with certain, um, devices- on camera for money.

That is something that no parent should have to face. Too many do.

I'm not for one moment going to argue for shutting down the porn industry through regulation. That would be downright idiotic. I don't have any particular problem with prostitution, for instance, and I think that porn fulfills many of the same functions that prostitutes do.

I am, however, saying that buyers should be aware of what they're getting into. Women who get involved in the industry should never forget that it's a meat-grinder- in every sense of the phrase. It consumes and destroys innocence, and women who come out the other end are never the same. The industry robs them of their youth, their beauty, and their humanity.

And then there is the toll that young men who resort to porn have to pay.

Pornography is an insidious drug, and a dangerous one. It stimulates the pleasure centres of the brain in a way that make it very difficult to quit once you're hooked. You can limit the damage by limiting your exposure, but there can be no question that it affects you. It makes you far less willing to risk social engagement, far less interested in dating real girls, and far less capable of basic human courtship rituals.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: if you want to get involved with this, it's your choice. But don't call it anything other than what it is- a choice with real negative consequences. Don't call the porn industry "empowering" or "life-affirming"- that's Grade A, unadulterated, free-range, grass-fed Bee Ess.

And don't pretend that there is anything to admire about someone like Belle Knox- or, as I prefer to think of her, Miriam Weeks, someone's 19-year-old daughter, a girl younger than my own little sister, a prematurely aged woman robbed of youth and innocence through her own choices.

This is the reality that all of the man-jawed "feminists" who cheered on Ms. Weeks's choices keep forgetting. This is the price to be paid. We all pay a price for our choices- but few of us should want to pay for a choice with our innocence.

Comments

  1. I think you pretty much got everything right in that article. Call it a quibble if you like but I'll add one thing. A great many women today aren't much well women or worth having relationships with anyway. In those cases porn is good outlet.

    War Nerd once noted Young men…I don’t know how to put this politely, really; young men from celibate, conservative backgrounds have a deep interest in doing bad things.

    Despite the culture, a lot of these decent young men really don't have much of a sex life or any real chance with globalism and all to have a proper American middle class life. Its probably better for all of us if they play video games and watch porn rather than join any of the many extremist movements who would be happy to have them.

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    1. I agree. The rapid growth of the free internet porn industry over the last twenty years has certainly mirrored the decline in quality of Western women. Of course, there is considerable room for debate as to whether that decline is a cause or a consequence of internet porn usage.

      Despite the culture, a lot of these decent young men really don't have much of a sex life or any real chance with globalism and all to have a proper American middle class life. Its probably better for all of us if they play video games and watch porn rather than join any of the many extremist movements who would be happy to have them.

      True. Video games and porn provide outlets- not very good ones, perhaps, but better than the alternatives of going postal and/or expressing one's frustrations through self-immolation...

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