A Response: To The Duke University Porn Star

To the author and readers of this article,

We are sorry that your article had to be written. We are sorry that it was prompted by hateful comments made toward you, a fellow human being. Judgment ought not ever be cast by other humans; stones cannot be thrown by those who are blinded by a million logs in their own eyes.

So please hear us: we are sorry that you have been hurt by a society that is lined by hypocrisy and colored with sin towards each other.

And we agree with you on several different points:

  • Yes. No one, male or female, deserves to be made fun of, attacked, or shamed. Ever. Period the end.
  • Yes. Society is male dominated and doesn’t well enable variation in woman’s personalities and behavior. I (Amaris) have known people who were so ridiculed for going “too far” physically that they stopped caring about boundaries or were burdened with shame. It would seem as though women today have two options: you are either considered to be a pure as snow, naive, virgin or a dirty, broken, slut.
  • Yes. The fact that rape jokes are acceptable in comedy and that legislation and media blame and shame the victim is horrifying.
  • Yes. The fact that culture allows and expects men to be sexual but not women is cruel and hurtful.

So there’s that. And for the role we play in this society that’s screwed up, we apologize.

That being said, we’re concerned that the conclusions in this article aren’t grounded in solid logic. We’re concerned this woman’s actions moving forward will not help solve the problems she has so accurately identified but instead will, however unwillingly, support them.

To start, we have a couple of contentions from a logic viewpoint. The author of this article says that she partakes in the porn industry because it is her passion and her artistic outlet. But she also states earlier in the article that she does it so that she can pay for school. So is it passion or money? It can be both, they aren’t mutually exclusive: but her own statement doesn’t support a purely artistic attitude towards this lifestyle. Something’s amiss.

Secondly, she says that she is proud of being a sex worker but violently protects her privacy. If you were proud wouldn’t you want to talk about it and educate people? Hiding information implies some sort of discomfort. Why not have sex privately, not get paid, and protect your privacy more? The logic doesn’t line up.

Nonetheless, it makes sense why after being attacked the way she was that she would come out so strongly on this issue. Furthermore since society thinks that giving one guy one blow job makes you a slut and being a well paid porn star also gets you called a slut, then why not just get the money? People will never be happy or see you as clean again, so why not?

Why not? Well, while your body is yours to do with as you want, we would counter that being employed by the porn industry supports the very society condemned by this woman’s article. The people who are calling her a whore could be the same ones watching the videos; they are the consumers and therefore the employers of her employers: its basic economical theory.

And just as she wants to be able to do what she wants to do, so does everyone else. By her own logic if a guy wants to berate her online because that makes him feel good then she could just not read it. There is also the issue that if someone is paying to view her having sex then they have paid, in a way, to make those comments. She is allowing herself to be consumed visually by men whose viewpoint of her is as an object of consumption. Which is the counter again: why not just have kinky sex in private? She is in charge of her body and so am I. But by choosing to take money for my body I am, in a way, no longer in charge of it. That’s how business transactions work

Additionally, while she has had a good experience in the sex industry, the majority of experiences in pornography are awful and the abuse and forced prostitution locally and globally are rampant. Pornography encourages others (though in this case primarily men) to be consumers of fellow human beings, objectifying them and disregarding them as anything more than a sexual object. And from the tone of her article it doesn’t sound like that is something she wants to align herself with. But it is contradictory to condemn the attitude that pornography promotes while also being paid by and supporting that industry.

I will emphasize again, that this does not make the comments people made to her right, and it does not mean that she deserves them. Even if I think her choice or reasons for choosing this route are wrong it does not justify the judgment that has been cast her way. We’re all screwed up and we’re all in this together; save your judgement for the mirror.

But it is not judgmental for me to stand up and speak out against the problems she is condemning and then, with painful irony, supporting. Sexism is wrong. Verbally attacking someone and tearing them down is wrong. And the abuses of the pornography industry are wrong. But embracing her role in the pornographic industry is not the solution; it compounds the problem. 

 The fact is that our culture is riddled with logical deductions for why pornography is “okay”. But we are also a culture that declares wars in order to prevent violence. Point being, I’m not going to hang my hat on any moral junctures of our culture. You might think this is comparing apples and oranges but I would beg to differ. Pornography feeds into a problem that is so much bigger than “if it feels good, do it.” It feeds into rape, prostitution, and rampant abuse of which females are the primary victims.

For instance: according to a report from Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization focused on rescuing women and children from the sex trade, “pornography is the primary gateway to the purchase of humans for commercial sex.”

How? Well for one, Catherine Mackinon, a feminist professor at Harvard Law School, states that as far as legal definitions go “consuming pornography is an experience of bought sex.” Let alone the fact that there are numerous occasions of women who were actually literally sold for the sole purpose of pornographic production.

The point is that even devoid of these experiences, even if the producer of pornography and this girl’s employer is an upstanding citizen who gives his employees marvelous benefits and remembers to send them their W-2’s on time, at the end of the day the pornography industry is still one that encourages the objectification and demoralization of human beings; it promotes the same kind of sickening behavior that the author of this letter speaks out against. As independent men and women our bodies are own but what we do with them, especially in this case, can have wider implications.

The cultural sexism that women are naturally faced with is something you can’t escape. And that is atrocious. It is a problem in our society and one that needs to be addressed. But being a “porn-star” was a choice, and it is a choice that is contributing to the problem. And yeah, it sucks that people judge wrongly; it sucks that we’re a judgmental race who can’t wait to see the person next to us (or on our computer screens) fall.

Nonetheless, no matter who you are, the point is that our actions and our words matter. We can be porn-stars, drug dealers, or CEO’s but you are not the only person that decision will affect. Each person’s actions have consequences and contribute to a larger societal picture. So each of us need to ask ourselves if our actions are supporting a larger picture that we agree with.

The same goes for our words. Whether you are saying something in a chat room, over text, or in person, cruel words cause pain that will endure for years. Judging someone or labeling them is never funny, is never justified, and is never deserved. Conversely, a kind word can make all the difference.

You are powerful. And you can speak truth or tell a person you are worried about their actions. You can do this  without condemning them while still letting them know you care for them. I hope the author of this letter finds solace in people like that, people whose actions and words are contributing to a world in which she cannot be treated this way.

Also, for the record, student loans suck. We’re with you on that.

Sincerely,

Some Fellow Human Beings

This post was co-written with Amaris B. 

Amaris is a fellow seminary student, Maine-iac, and frozen pizza enthusiast. On any given day she can be found drinking coffee, listening to some tunes, or raving about the brilliance of Lena Dunham or the new Sisyphus single. She is currently counting down the days until the new Wes Anderson movie.

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2 thoughts on “A Response: To The Duke University Porn Star

  1. Pornography feeds into a problem that is so much bigger than “if it feels good, do it.” <– This could be said for so many institutions. I don't want to attack religion, but first thing to pop into my mind is the Catholic church. I know many members of the church who are wonderful, loving human beings, who have a genuine faith and who also feel that there is a space within their beliefs for the considered use of birth control and embracing people who are gay. So I don't blame them when the Pope advises people with HIV in Africa against using condoms, even though I think it's a wildly inappropriate action with very real and harmful consequences. I think that you have some valid points here, but there's no sense in asking Lauren to represent and be responsible for all the varied problems of the pornography industry.

    1. That’s a valid point and I agree to a certain extent; an employee for a corporation isn’t responsible for what the person in the next wing of her office building is doing in the name of her corporation. Employee A could be an upstanding citizen and morally spotless while Employee B could be using company protocol as a front for, say, a drug cartel all without the knowledge of Employee A. This wouldn’t make Employee A responsible for what Employee B is doing purely by association.
      So I agree with that. But I would counter that with the porn industry it is completely different. Anyone denying that pornography leads to an objectified and very demoralizing view of the women (and men, for that matter) involved needs to simply look at Lauren’s article. That is exhibit A that something is not right about not just society but the industry that feeds into the society. If she was not aware before then she is aware now that the industry she is choosing to be involved in is promoting attitudes that she obviously does not agree with. Going back to my analogy, it would be equivalent to Employee A one day stumbling across files proving that her company was supporting and harboring the cartel Employee B was operating. Employee A is now under a moral (and legal obligation) and must be aware that she is a part of a corrupt institution.

      Point is, I’m not asking Lauren to be responsible for the problems in pornography and I apologize if that’s how our tone came across (I’m speaking for both authors here, though I’m pretty certain my co-author would agree). I’m simply asking her, now that she is aware of it, to stop contributing to a problem that has made itself so vividly apparent. She is NOT to blame for the existence of the industry and for the skewed and twisted perceptions that lead us to even desire purchased sex. But she is responsible for whether or not she chooses to offer herself and her body as an employee of said system and thus contribute further contribute to the issue.

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