A progressive in the porn industry

Miriam Weeks a.k.a. Belle Knox discusses her views on the sex industry.

Photos by Willem Ytsma ‘16

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Belle Knox speaks about feminism in adult entertainment

A debate about feminism was sparked this week when Miriam Weeks, also known as porn star Belle Knox, came to speak to students about her views on the stigma and societal ostracism that comes with her job.

In the fall of her freshman year at Duke University, Miriam was faced with a crippling tuition bill and little in the way of income or financial support. Capitalizing on her slim frame and love of sex, she started making adult films as a means of income. She smade about $1200 per shoot.

Later that year, a classmate ripped her privacy away from her and Belle Knox became the laughing stock of her campus and hometown. Since then, she has decided to take control of the discussion surrounding her choices, and became an advocate for women’s rights in the sex industry.

Most people, including her at first, don’t have a realistic idea of what a porn star really is. Miriam said she always assumed that they had to be “slutty, [with] big boobs, [and] ditzy.”

On screen, she said, they may appear this way. But, whatever they look like on screen, Miriam added, these porn stars have hobbies, friends and family and do not deserve to be dehumanized and degraded for doing a job that they accepted willingly and, in Miriam’s case, find personally empowering.

Miriam, as with many sex workers, feel “alienation and isolation” because of the negative stigma that surrounds the porn industry.

A “social media vitriolic war” has been waged and it is challenging the true meaning of feminism.

Some of the people who have spoken out against Miriam claim to be feminists.      “Feminism is not telling women what to do,” said Miriam, responding to those critics.

Nobody questions it anymore when a woman aspires to be a lawyer, Miriam asked, so why is it such a calamity when a woman wants to be a porn star? The answer, she said, is tied to the preconception that sexuality, specifically female sexuality, is immoral.

There is an alarming double standard wherein it is completely acceptable to watch porn, Miriam said, but those who participate in its production are seen as immoral. Miriam discussed how she strives to “transcend class barriers” and challenge social norms by speaking out about her own experiences, educating people about the realities of porn and its relation to society.

Miriam is currently a sophomore at Duke majoring in women’s studies.

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Belle Knox defends feminism in the sex industry

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