In a recent article in the Duke Chronicle, a Duke University student came forward admitting that in order to foot the bill for her college tuition, she has been working in the adult film industry. Immediately she was defamed and criticized, not just across campus, but across the globe as her story spread.
Recently, she came forward with her story in her own words, where she responds to the scrutiny and defends herself. She says that female sexuality is suppressed, and that she is merely embracing it while empowering herself to get a college degree. After all, she claims to be a feminist, but she works in an industry that many would say is anti-feminist.
My classmate, Lauren, raised a good question about this story. She asks, “Does she send a positive message by embracing autonomy and control over her own sexuality, or does her participation in an industry that helps her make a living off of her body only perpetuate the problems so many of us have discussed?”
Well, I am not one to “slut shame,” nor does my opinion have anything to do with the UNC-Duke rivalry (Go Heels). But, it has everything to do with true female empowerment.
I beg to differ with this Duke university student who claims that waiting tables is more degrading than participating in a pornography. Sure, I’ve never done porn (and no, I never will), but how is sexually exploiting yourself less degrading than bringing people a meal? Sure, people may complain to you about your service and the quality of their food, but can you honestly say that you don’t find it degrading to be objectified through pornography?
And, furthermore, these films she’s making aren’t just going to disappear. Her body, and her actions, are going to be stared at for years to come – the Internet is eternal. People are not viewing these films thinking “Wow, this is art.” People are viewing these films and thinking things that I myself am too uncomfortable to even type.
I think this sends a horrible message to young women out there. Yes, it is absolutely, positively great to earn your own money and to not depend on anyone else. But, to earn your own money in such a manner is not empowering, it is indeed demeaning. And while I agree that females generally don’t embrace their sexuality as wholeheartedly as men, can you truly say that putting your body on display for all to see is embracing your sexuality? I argue that it is exploiting yourself and destroying your true, personal sexuality.
As women, we need to move away from the idea that our bodies are most valuable. We are so much more than our bodies, and we should not be paid to objectify ourselves. So Lauren, to answer your question, I think this student is perpetuating the idea that a woman’s body is where she holds her worth. We are more than our bodies, let’s embrace our brains.