Porn is NOT liberation; it is Exploitation


I recently came across the Piers Morgan interview with a Duke University student who has been living a double life as a college student and porn star. This young lady, Miriam Weeks, says she has been working in the sex industry to help pay for her college tuition, but that she would choose this lifestyle regardless of financial need. She says she loves the support and understanding she has received from fellow sex workers and feels at “home” in the world of adult films.
Duke University porn star Belle Knox interview ON Piers Morgan March 6, 2014
The interview is actually excruciatingly difficult to watch as someone who can see how this industry is going to eventually kill her naturally sweet disposition. She really seems like a nice person, someone you’d hire to babysit your kids. The youthful optimism and energy with which she embraces the cause of pornography is infectious and reminds many of us of times we threw ourselves into ideals and movements without even understanding what we were advocating for. She smiles naively as she says things like,

“We are in a society where we are repressed every single day. We’re told sex is bad, we’re told not to have sex, we’re told not to show our bodies; and that’s really true for women. And to be in porn and to be able to be naked and free and have that sexual autonomy is so incredibly freeing.”

Though some are raised this way, many people are bemoaning the fact that our culture is increasingly sexualizing young girls at ever younger and younger ages. One look at modern fashions will tell you that young women are certainly not told to cover their bodies and that the more sexually available a young woman makes herself appear the more socially accepted she will be. Her out of touch reasoning and her perception of sexuality seems to have been fed to her by an education system bent on convincing women that we are the victims of a patriarchy that wants to keep us covered up and shut up. What they fail to see however, is that whenever the whole totality of a woman’s personhood is not recognized, she is still being oppressed. If she is treated like she is a walking womb, without regard to her emotional needs or the other gifts of her personality and intellect, or if she is treated like a sex toy to be used for someone’s sexual pleasure without regard to who she is as a person, she is objectified.
Miss Weeks is a proud Women’s Study major at Duke, which might explain why the responses she gives when questioned about choosing pornography as her outlet for sexual autonomy sound exactly like lines out of Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique written in the 1950’s. Women’s Studies programs are infamous for promoting the ideas of Second Wave Feminism, which are outdated at best.  The ideas of sexual repression and a cry against sexual victimization by a restrictive culture are what led to the massive Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s. This Women’s Studies major has absorbed the talking points of the Second Wave Feminists of the 1960’s and has failed to see that the zeitgeist has shifted massively since these ideas where first thought of as advances for women’s liberty. The idea of free sex = liberation trope is really exchanging one form of oppression for another. But what is strange about her application of the women’s rights talking points is that what she is advocating for with them is linked with a rape culture and the abuse of women. Julie Meadows, a former porn star sums it up best saying,

“This industry is full of people that hate – literally HATE women.”

The fact is that like abortion and contraception (and all the other ideas that women have allowed men to convince us are really in our best interest, pornography is not really about us at all. It is about men and power and women choosing, for whatever reason, to become players in a game that involves lust, money, and domination. Many women willingly go into this industry and experience  an initial euphoria at being desired and adored, however the realities of STDs and high levels of depression usually cause these women to soon leave. The average life expectancy of a porn star is only 36.2 years.1
Every act that places our sexuality in a position where we must suppress the fullness of ourselves in order to act it out will have consequences far beyond the initial satisfaction and reward we receive. When we betray our body and our spirit for the satisfaction of others, our own joy will be short lived and in the end very empty.  I fear she will suffer the same sad consequences that millions of women who have embraced the “free sex” mentality have over the past forty years.

Pornography is BIG BUSINESS. Worldwide pornography revenue in 2006 was $97.06 billion. Of that, approximately $13 billion was in the United States. The United States adult film industry produces 4,000–11,000 films a year and earns an estimated $9–$13 billion in gross revenues annually. An estimated 200 production companies employ 1,200–1,500 performers. Performers typically earn $400–$1,000 per shoot and are not compensated based on distribution or sales.2
And the sad truth here is that this beautiful young woman is just a disposable, replaceable piece in the eyes of her money hungry employers. They are not her family and they do not care about what her decisions now will do to her for the rest of her life. She is being used, but she doesn’t even realize it. She has naively allowed herself to be convinced that this is in her best interests.  She has ignored the protests of her own family, who are reportedly very upset by this news, and she instead chooses to believe that people who are profiting off of her sexual appeal somehow see her fully as a unique and irreplaceable human being. They do not see her as more than her body and her willingness to do what those who use her demand.
I suspect, that the $1,200 she is paid for each scene is not enough to keep her subconscious  from waking up screaming in horror each day, but the psychological manipulation that convinces her that this is “what liberates her” is. She must maintain the psychological safe-guard that is telling her this is what she wants; that this is what liberates her. If she is to one day wake up and decide that she would like to stop doing porn I can assure you the friendships she has in the sex worker industry would also end. Why? Because these relationships are founded on the soothing comfort of being with people who will not challenge her decisions. These relationships are with people who are profiting off her poor judgment. If she ever sees the light and decides to stop making adult films she will realize very quickly who her real family is. They will be the ones who have been waiting and praying for her safe return to a home where she is valued as a whole human being, not just a commodity. We certainly hope that day comes sooner than later for Ms. Weeks and in the meantime we’ll work to educate and fight the rampant abuse of women that takes place in all the sex trades.
Resources:
http://candeobehaviorchange.com/ A secular, anonymous, online recovery program that uses the Brain Science of Change to actually heal the brain from the damage caused by sexual addictions.
http://reclaimsexualhealth.com/ A Catholic, anonymous, online recovery program that uses the Brian Science of Change to actually heal the brain from the damage caused by sexual addictions.
Footnotes:
1. Retrieved 3/24/14 from https://www.thepinkcross.org/porn-industry
2. Retrieved 3/24/14 from https://www.thepinkcross.org/porn-statistics
photo credit: Jason M Parrish via photopin cc

Leah

Leah

Hailing from central Minnesota, Leah has been working with young people and mothers since 2000. Leah founded The Guiding Star Project in 2011 after feeling called to help women and families by providing resources that honor Natural Law and promote wholistic feminism. She seeks to create Guiding Star Centers to serve as beacons of hope, joy, and truth — safe havens that uphold human dignity in all stages of life. Leah lives in Minnesota with her family and works as a board-certified lactation consultant. As a mother to seven children, she has a special interest in supporting young women as they transition into their roles as new mothers.
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1 thought on “Porn is NOT liberation; it is Exploitation”

  1. As a licensed psychotherapist, I found this researched article valuable, informative, and insightful. Thank you!

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