Ode to a Porn Star

The internet has been rife of late with ignorance, spite and sanctimonious outrage in wake of the “Duke University Porn Star”, a young woman whose unorthodox method of paying her tuition has been the target of very well precedented judgment and derision from men who are, for the most part, hopelessly addicted to her trade. The written statement she posted in defense of herself and the modern sex worker is so compellingly eloquent and savagely honest that I have a hard time disagreeing with her, my own sentiments with regard to pornography and feminism aside.

Near as harsh as most pornographic sex itself is the reality that hers cannot be deemed an uncommon predicament. Higher education has become so outlandishly expensive that, for some, working in the sex industry is not only an option, but a viable course of action. Let’s face it, though, this isn’t about textbooks or meal plans or student loans; it’s about an ongoing societal trend that has been afflicting us for as long as….well, as long as the oldest profession in history has been around. While the term “double standard” is used ad nauseam among certain social justice circles, it applies prodigiously to the trend in question, which very wrongly and unjustly victimizes women on a pervasive, universal scale, and which needs to be cut short indefinitely.

We all know that pornography is a standing presence in the day-to-day lives of young men in my generation, for good or ill. It should go without saying that this lies in direct correlation with the emergence of the internet age. For the first time, porn is something that is not only available, but quite literally thrust upon us (in the form of pop-ups, emails, ads and ill-advised friends) at an age when we are only just discovering sexuality, and how to interact with women, to boot. Statistics have shown, rather worryingly, that boys are being exposed to hardcore pornography as early as an average age of eleven [?!?]. The shadow of this irresistibly salacious industry looms over suburban duplexes, white-picketed townhomes, inner-city apartments and rural farmhouses alike.

Ethical implications notwithstanding, the combined efforts of insecure girlfriends, FemiNazis, disapproving mothers and plain old traditionalists have, effectively, ruined porn for everyone — but that doesn’t stop us from indulging in its vulgarity, and in truly staggering quantities, for that matter. Each year, PornHub releases a collection of data recording the various categories of porn being consumed from state-to-state, as well as the rate of viewers’ consumption. The statistics are at once predictable and shocking, in that a number of states follow perverse trends that are less than surprising (e.g. ones like Washington and California revealing their fetish of choice to be Asian porn), while others are completely out of keeping with longstanding cultural norms (e.g. deep Southern states like Louisiana, Mississipi, Alabama and Georgia revealing their FoC to be, overwhelmingly, ebony porn).

Some of the data is just totally bizarre. For instance, Kentuckians prefer hentai (animated pornography) behind closed doors. Colorado, known for being the healthiest and most physically active state in America, is weirdly taken with the smoking fetish. And a truly astonishing twelve states are statistically and inexplicably obsessed with the creampie (those who are unfamiliar with this term are, very unfortunately, going to have to look it up on their own). Utah — in true Mormon fashion — has been empirically proven to consume the most hardcore porn of any state in the union, but is conspicuously lacking a FoC. Let me be the first to admit that, while I’m sure they exist, the reasons for these trends remain, at least to my knowledge, very much unkown.

Fetishes may differ across state lines, but one factor remains constant: porn has come to misleadingly reinforce widespread expectations with regard to sexuality that are wildly infeasible in the real world. Everything from male ejaculate to female libido has been sensationalized, such that compulsive viewers who look to porn for sexual education find just the opposite, radical miseducation on a vast and dangerous scale.

Too, it plants the as it were seed in our minds that sex actually is exclusively and undeviatingly casual (a contention which, despite societal leaps and bounds in the way of sexual freedom, I can assure you is woefully misguided), the not-so-subtly insidious nature of which causes many to assume that women really are just easily accessible vessels made for harsh, nigh abusive treatment, and that anything from a visit to the doctor’s office to a busy construction site will inevitably elicit a rapt orgy of formidable black members and unnaturally busty teens.

I can’t say that I’ve made up my mind about this porn business. On the one hand, it is openly and unashamedly debasing the undeniably fairer sex; while on the other, it empowers choice members of that faction by enabling them to express their sexuality in a way that is controlled, consensual and — so long as we’re being real — profitable. Of course, not all starlets have the luxury of attending a top ten university. In fact, many are bound by shackles of poverty, addiction, abuse and unimaginably worse. It cannot be ignored that this industry is profiting overwhelmingly on the subjugation and exploitation of uneducated women with nowhere else to turn. However, we should not be writing these women off, not by any means….and we sure-as-shit should not be furthering their hardship by persecuting them for relying on a means, the end to which is a product that we ourselves are hugely reliant on.

Let me be clear in stating the following: You do not have to agree with a person’s beliefs or lifestyle in order to at least respect them as being those of another human being. I am not saying that I consider porn to be an industry of noble or moral repute, nor am I saying that I’d want someone I care about to participate in it. What I am saying, or at least trying to, is that it is not for anyone (male, female, misogynist or feminist) to dictate what a consenting adult of sound mind and judgment can or cannot do with his or her own body — end of fucking story.

The question, I think, is not so much one of whether or not porn is degrading, as it is of why men now need it to be in order to become aroused. Adult entertainment started as a market for taboo, in a time when the bar for public indecency was set so low that Americans were all but forced to seek out other ways to achieve an ever elusive release. Now, though, it has degenerated into a multi-billion dollar industry that feeds on a pseudo-progressive culture’s sick obsession with seeing young girls brutalized (in full HD), for reasons they either cannot or will not force themselves to consider.

There are those who would say this manic consumption of cinematic misogyny is a direct result of the feminist movement’s continuing and rapidly transcendent success in fostering equal rights for the modern woman. America, the beautiful patriarchy, has been brought to its knees by the very same women who have for so long been expected to stay on theirs. Our country’s hypocritical fascination with porn, then, makes it look a whole lot like a B-list starlet without her makeup — rather homely, indeed.

Regardless, of one thing I am certain, which is that this chick has got some serious balls (sexist, I know) to be learning, fighting and fucking the way that she does. All kidding aside, if she can express and defend herself that fearlessly at eighteen, she’s alright in my book. While our belief systems do not seamlessly align, my respect and admiration for her is immense. And I hope, for all our sakes’, that we allow and encourage her to walk every path with the same courage and conviction that all we men of convention so needlessly and archaically fear. Hell, girl, if you’re reading this, give me a shout. I’d take you out to dinner for your writing skills alone.

Most starlets garner fame by catering to gender roles as toxic as they are prevalent, but this girl, this teenage girl, has earned her fame by finally speaking out against them. And make no mistake, she has done so with a voice more passionate and articulate than any of her outspoken critics and/or unspoken admirers could ever hope to muster. For that, she should be unanimously commended, because it makes her the first true porn star. As for the rest of us, let’s do ourselves a collective favor by reading and spreading her words of youthful wisdom.

http://www.xojane.com/sex/duke-university-freshman-porn-star

One thought on “Ode to a Porn Star

  1. I don’t usually, or really ever leave lengthy comments on things, but you were nice enough to ask for an opinion and between this article, the girls article and the sadly unsurprising internet attack on her, the dialogue is an interesting one.
    Honestly I’ve never actually watched porn. It just isn’t something I’m into though I understand other people utilizing it. The effects I feel from it have generally been the weird, absurd expectations that men have expressed as a result of the porn they watch. So far my biggest problem with porn is that, despite some organization in the industry, it is still largely unregulated and can still involve unwilling or unknowing participants. People have been selling sex in all forms since the first of us figured out we fit together. I don’t imagine it will ever stop, so there really should be more of an effort to cut away the exploitative aspects of the industry. This girl has a very good point when she says that this requires respect between human beings no matter their career choices.
    Much of the opposition is rooted in archaic ideas regarding masculinity and femininity. The concept that women can or should even garner any enjoyment from sex is generally historically new. There have been cultural exceptions to this rule, but on the whole sex has been considered a submissive act for women and a right for men. As a result, women are still discovering their sexuality in an environment that still harbors a lot of hostility and resistance towards them doing so. Men have been expected to be sexual and criticized when they fail to be, women are in the opposite situation. There is still a pervasive idea that if a woman is truly in control of her body, life and mind then that will equate to her being able to avoid sex rather than being selective with who and what she experiences.
    In the end the internet is a place where anyone can vent their own insecurities in adolescent fashion by attacking the people that expose those insecurities or embody them or their opposites. We can tear each other down from behind closed doors and feel satisfied never having to truly analyze what we see or ourselves.
    All this being said, her situation is definitely a question of industry and money-making, and while education providers feel obligated to extort students for the promise of careers we all find our own ways to make ends meet. She has a job that is non-vocally endorsed by millions of people and that has long been a fixture of society. I’ve been treated before as if the jobs I have held do not have enough dignity in them, but while I am supporting myself and enjoying what I do I don’t feel that others have the right to criticize. Most people make a living by selling other people things they don’t actually need and they fail to feel guilt. She isn’t selling anything people aren’t looking for.
    This got much longer than I intended, but I never write anything online so I’ll chalk it up to not having learned the art of censorship. I like the objectivity of your article and the tone of respect, although the term feminist has developed some mixed connotations. Modern feminists have a reputation for pushing too hard, though until we actually are living as societal equals they are necessary. There are extremists on both sides that tend to dumb down the debate and reduce it to squabbling. Still I think you handled the subject well. Enjoy my little essay.

    Like

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