Let’s talk about this Belle Knox ‘scandal’.
But let’s be honest with ourselves: this isn’t really a scandal at all.
Not. A. Scandal.
If you don’t know about Belle Knox, here’s the scoop: she’s a 19 year old Duke University undergrad who chose to finance her education by becoming a porn star. She thought that she’d be able to navigate campus anonymously and fly under the radar, but she was discovered by a male student and – you can guess that it went downhill from there. I highly suggest reading the original article she wrote after she was outed to her peers, which can be found on here on XOJane.
I’ve watched many of her interviews. Here are links to her interview with Piers Morgan (who she totally owns, by the way) and the ladies of The View, as well as an interview with Huffington Post. The bottom line is that she is an intelligent, capable, adult human being with the ability to make her own decision to face the consequences. It is not my job or anyone else’s job to criticize her for doing what she wants to do. This is how she chooses to finance her education, and that’s the end of it.
However, I do have to disagree with her on a few points, because I think that her publicity could give younger girls the wrong idea. I don’t believe that the porn industry is empowering to women. While she’s certainly had a wonderful and empowering experience, other women have not been so lucky. Drugs are a major problem in the industry and many female porn stars have cited abuse and assault among the daily experiences. Is it possible that she’s jaded and is just being victimized by the inner workings of the system? Absolutely. And I respect her decision to do what she wants to do with her body, but I believe that her comments and opinions regarding her work will cause young women and girls with little to no experience in that area to believe that the porn industry can be a nurturing, safe, and expressive environment. And it is not.
I’m not saying that porn can’t be empowering to women, because I definitely think that it could be. But realistically, that’s not the case. Knox seems to be on this quest to make pornography empowering, but I don’t think that it’s working. The system is pretty strong in its corruption. While I’m anti-porn because of the way that mainstream porn is currently portrayed, that doesn’t mean I’m anti-sex, or wouldn’t be pro-porn if things were to change. I just think that there is a healthier way to express our sexuality on film than the way it’s being done.
What really stuck out to me was Knox’s comment on how she began watching porn at age 12, which freaked out the women on The View. And humorous though it was, it definitely spurred my interest, so I decided to do some research. I couldn’t find an actual study that confirmed the age at which guys start watching porn, but I found a forum that asked the question, and the responses ranged from ages 10 to 19. While I think that 10 is really young and not appropriate, most people can probably agree that teenage boys watching porn isn’t uncommon and no one really makes an issue about it. But the moment a woman comes out and says that she was interested in her sexuality at a young age, everyone throws a hissy fit.
I do want to express that while I think exploring your sexuality is awesome, porn probably isn’t the best way to do so at a young age. Gloria Steinem has said that she believes porn creates the idea that dominance and submission are natural to a normal human relationship, and I wholeheartedly agree. That can be very damaging to relationships, not to mention the negative impact it has on women’s body image and men’s expectations in the bedroom.
Knox has said that she’s aroused by pain, which isn’t uncommon. But there have also been articles noting the scars on her legs from previous cutting, which could indicate some emotional issues and set her up for a relapse later on. I get that some people are into masochism, and that’s totally cool when it’s occurring between two consenting adults. But when a past of self harm is involved due to depression, I think the likelihood of those past issues connecting to a larger problem in the future is something to watch out for.
While I respect Knox’s decision to participate in sex work, I think that she needs to be very careful because of how manipulative any industry can be. It may be that she’s already being manipulated without recognizing it, but only time will tell. And while I may not agree with some of her opinions, the fact that she’s been harassed, threatened, and belittled because of her work is absolutely ridiculous. What really gets me is how upset the guys at her school seem to be about her choice to participate in sex work. They’ll shame her all day long, but they’re part of the audience watching her. My opinion? Don’t diss the supply when you’re the demand. As they say in the industry, ‘They jack off with the left hand and point with the right’.