If I have learned anything in college it is that that no one will inquire further about your job if you respond with a story of a screaming baby vomiting on you. This is an important life skill to have.
Books, and no, I can’t go out this weekend. I’m studying,… the whole time.
I have mastered the art of being unremarkable. I carefully lie to hide who I truly am because I have seen how the academic word treats those in my industry.
If you have not heard of Belle Knox, you may have been living under a rock. She was a freshman at Duke University when she was outed as a porn star. She trusted one classmate with her secret and within a couple of weeks the whole nation knew.
The whole nation also had an opinion on it: she received everything from encouragement to death threats. Even with people defending her, I imagine it is nearly impossible to hear the praise when you can’t walk through campus without fearing someone will make good on their violent threats.
After her personal information and the personal information of her parents were posted online she went to the police to help. She was met with slut shaming and implications that she could be at fault for the harassment.
I admire Ms. Knox for the bravery, strength, and intelligence it took for her to not only get through this gross invasion of her life, but to do so with her head held high. She turned this tragedy into a platform to discuss the stigma associated with sex work and the sexuality of women.
I had yet to enter the industry when this occurred, but I followed the media coverage with rapt attention. It was beyond my comprehension how strangers could get so personally insulted by her decisions about her own body. As I followed the events I started to understand how deeply personally people take women’s sexuality. Our society seems to think everyone but the individual has control over a woman’s decision in this regard.
It makes me worried to imagine how many people think they can claim ownership over my sexuality. Our society, and specifically college culture, is guilty of perpetuating the Virgin/Whore Dichotomy. Women are expected to be as pure and modest as a virgin, but be able to have sex like a whore. If she has sex she is labeled a slut, but if she refrains from it she is a prude.
The decision to have sex should be each individual woman’s decision, not open for public comment. Sadly, we are not there yet. Until we are, I will continue to join the conversation in ways that protect my privacy.
Every time someone on campus asks me what I do, I think of Belle Knox and I lie. I realize this damages my ability to create any real connections in college, but it is a sacrifice I make to keep my loved ones and myself safe.