She left out a few details
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.