For all the liberal media's insistence that it is squarely on the side of the sisterhood in the "war on women," there are reminders every day that liberal victory in that conflict looks curiously like women being reduced to the sum of their genitalia in the name of sexual gratification of men.
"Duke's Freshman Porn Starlet Isn't Ashamed—and She Shouldn't Be." trumpets the headline, of Emily Shire's February 24 Daily Beast item defending and even celebrating the choice of a young female Duke University student -- "Lauren" -- to pay her way through the pricey private institution by having sex with men for money. At one point, Ms. Shire insists that "we should not blame Lauren for wanting to have a successful adult film career."
Shame is a four-letter word to libertine lefties, all the more so when the S-word pertains to still-existing albeit somewhat weakened cultural mores regarding the porn biz.
Shire took it upon herself to celebrate the coed-turned-porn star's unapologetic defense for how it's "empowering" to have sex on camera for cash, reserving the scorn -- and it is rightly deserved on some level -- for the news outlets which have cheekily reported the Duke-has-a-porn-star-student story with puerile glee (emphasis mine):
It's not so shocking that a college student strapped for cash may engage in porn—or any other number of activities—to cover her tuition and college expenses. But, to own up to her decision to do so, and take pride in her adult film career, that’s what appears to be so scandalous.
Lauren's story is a tabloid’s dream come true: a female student at an elite, preppy Southern university who voluntarily turns to the disgraceful world of pornography and (gasp!) enjoys it. “Work-study programs were never like this!” cooed the New York Daily News, which also didn't hesitate to mock Lauren for her claim that she “feels at home” in the adult film community.
Eric Owens at The Daily Caller was even more vicious, attacking not only Lauren but the The Duke Chronicle for agreeing not to use her real name or “even her adorably slutty porn name.” He seemed shocked that a woman who voluntarily participates in porn would have thought about feminism or her treatment as a human being, noting, “Lauren had much to get off her (apparently 32C) chest.” Owens also accused her of making far more than she claims to need in order to defer the costs of her $58,000 tuition. Instead, he assumes (or perhaps fantasizes) that she does a double-penetration scene every day for one week a month to make over $300,000.
But the vast majority of Shire's critique is with everyday folks who just don't see the logic behind celebrating the voluntary self-degradation of whoring one's self out for money on camera:
Of course, nothing compares to the anonymous online comments, the kind that led Lauren to come forward in the first place. A discussion thread now over 20 pages long on the site CollegiateACB under the Duke University section began on Jan. 16 with the subject line “Freshman Pornstar” and the post “If you banged her, report in.”
The comments get worse from there, delving into a painfully revealing discussion of how sexual freedom is viewed within the context of feminism. The responses ranged from crude—“posting before some feminist starts shouting about 'dont slut shame!!!!!111!1! if i wanna take ten black dicks at once thats my choice and i still deserve respect!!!1!!!”— to prude—”we going to pretend like she was unaware of the social consequences of going into that business?”
But all of the negative comments share a common underlying assumption: By voluntarily pursuing a career in the porn industry, Lauren has automatically surrendered all of her rights as a feminist, a woman, and a human. From here on out, everything she has coming to her, she deserves.
Instead of just accepting her own admission, we want to hear that Lauren was tricked or coerced into her porn career or that she is ashamed and regrets her poor youthful decision. She is, after all, only 18 years old. She may grow up one day to actually wish she had done things differently, as many, many wish they had at that age. Unfortunately, while we may eventually excuse someone for driving drunk and killing people at a similar age—or at least eventually grant them a life of anonynmity—acting in porn is a “mistake” not so easily forgiven or forgotten.
Lauren actually appears to understand that quite clearly. She doesn't want people to forget that she has a career in pornography. What makes her story so abhorrent to people is that she is embracing her sexuality and her career in adult films. She is not ashamed of the self-described “rough sex” she participates in on camera and her “many sexual quirks,” nor her decision to make money for doing so.
The shame that society imposes on sex workers does only one thing: hurts sex workers. To form a blanket protest against pornography and those who make it does not protect the sex workers who suffer from exploitation. Instead, she writes, “Shaming and hurling names at them, the usual treatment we give sex workers, is not the way to achieve this.”
Moreover, we should not blame Lauren for wanting to have a successful adult film career. The article in Duke's The Chronicle suggests that Lauren is not just the Norma Rae of sex workers, but, perhaps, in it for the fame. Katie Fernelius wrote that Lauren “giggled and asked, 'Do you think I’ll be on Ellen?'” and “did an interview with BroBible, wrote a monologue about her experiences, and was invited to speak to classes studying sex work.” If Lauren were granting these interviews after a homemade music video went viral on YouTube, we wouldn't begrudge her for embracing publicity. But again, we expect a girl caught making porn to be ashamed and begging for forgiveness.
Lauren's challenge against her harassment as a porn actress reveals how pointless and shameful our stigmatization of adult film performers are. It hurts sex workers who love their careers and want to enjoy full lives outside of pornography. Worse, it may further hurt the sex workers who are subjugated and are too afraid to ask for help.
Lauren's openness with her porn career raises many questions, but I fear people will only think to ask the wrong ones. We shouldn't be wondering why a smart young woman with her whole life ahead of her would choose a career in porn. Instead, we should be wondering why it should preclude her from doing anything else she so chooses.
Don't get me wrong. There is a legitimate debate to be had if we, as a society, are far too unforgiving when it comes to former sex workers trying to move on with their lives and being haunted and tainted by their former lifestyle, some to the point that, in desperation and shame they dive once again into sex work, being unable to secure a steady job because of their past.
That being said, the notion that shame is itself entirely inappropriate and that sex work should be accorded the same moral opporbrium as say being a veterinarian or a real estate agent or most any other profession is outright insanity and argues against anything but an animalistic view of human nature. It is, in short, a view of human nature that reduces us to mere beasts capable of economic transaction.
How apropos, then, of a publication called The Daily Beast.