Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Belle Knox, aka the Duke University Porn Star

I was inspired to write by Elizabeth Stoker's This Duke University Porn Thing, which applies her version of Christian ethics, which I generally like, to the story of Belle Knox, the 18-year-old would-be porn star who has been outed and harassed at Duke University. Stoker made me want to look at the story simply as a socialist.

Like renting space in your womb or being a medical test subject, sex work is one of the purest forms of capitalism. The only ways you could more literally sell your body would be to sell your organs.

From the simplest socialist point of view, workers are united. Insulting a sex worker is no different than insulting a dock worker.

But there's also Marx's notion of alienation to consider. His idea is that our labor and our sense of self are separated when we work for someone else's profit rather than for what we think is fun or necessary. Which means porn stars are alienated in the most extreme sense. They're alienated from their bodies.

I watched a couple of Belle Knox's tapes. The fascinating and sad one claims to be her first interview to do porn—the real interview probably happened before, when she agreed to be on camera. The interviewer notices she cut herself in the past, and she says she did it because she thought she was fat. That moment changes the story from "this is a cute woman who likes rough sex" to "this is a human who has hurt her body in the past and is now selling it."

I won't draw an easy conclusion. But I want a world where no one wants to hurt themselves, and no one wants to make porn for any reason other than the love of making porn.

Update: Bully who outed Duke porn star has his porn preferences publicized | Bed Post | Creative Loafing Tampa