Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Duke freshman and porn-star speaks out February 22, 2014

Filed under: autonomy,bullying,gender,gender inequality,pornography,sex work — philodaria @ 5:44 pm

This is well worth a read.

 

 

15 Responses to “Duke freshman and porn-star speaks out”

  1. Daniel Nagase Says:

    That was an interesting read. However, I think that she has misread the anti-pornography argument, perhaps assimilating the feminist side of the issue to the more moralistic side. Both MacKinnon and Dworkin were certainly not attempting to dismiss sex workers, but rather, were trying to empower them. Similarly for more recent work on this issue.

  2. Rachel Says:

    Daniel, what I see her (and I’ve heard this from other sex workers) saying is that the anti-porn feminists *thought* they were empowering sex workers, but all they did was make things worse…and their “help” was seen as white feminist maternalism.

  3. Matt Drabek Says:

    She gives no indication of being deeply familiar with the theories of Dworkin and MacKinnon, and does not mention either by name in her article. My best guess is that “anti-pornography feminists” in her article refers not to any particular feminist theorists, but rather to the sort of anti-pornography feminism a college freshman is likely to encounter on campus or on the Internet. And her remarks speak perfectly well to those groups.

  4. Daniel Nagase Says:

    Rachel, perhaps I’m mistaken, but I wouldn’t say that anti-pornography condemns the actions of sex workers. This seems to imply some kind of moralistic overtone, which is not exactly what most anti-pornography feminism I’ve read is about. I think Matt is probably right that this most likely refer to campus or internet discussions (for some reason, I hadn’t considered that possibility).

  5. Do you not think the enormous cost of attending Duke University figures into this discussion? This young woman is trading an asset she has now (which will disappear with time) for something she hopes will make it unnecessary: an education. I can only hope she gets her money’s worth.

  6. philodaria Says:

    Jennifer, she says in the piece that the cost of attending Duke was a significant motivating force.

  7. Jean K Says:

    I read this story from a parent’s perspective. We have a first year student flying to LA regularly to shoot “rough porn” without her parents’ knowledge. Plus, she claims she is helping pay the high cost of going to Duke, which means she is presumably lying to her parents (who presumably get the bills) about her source of income. There is a serious parent-child problem here, regardless of how credible anyone finds her passionate defense of sex work.

  8. philodaria Says:

    I don’t think we should presume her parents get the bills. Obviously, they might and we don’t know–but my parents didn’t get my bills.

  9. OS Says:

    I agree with philodaria, I don’t think we should assume what her relationship, financial or otherwise, is like with her parents, I think it’s important to recognize that the student has her own degrees of agency here.

    I also offer this quote from the article:

    “When I was 5 years old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off.”

  10. OS Says:

    I’d also like to add Melissa Gira Grant’s work to this discussion, Grant is a journalist and former sex worker who frequently writes nuanced, excellent pieces about sex work. http://postwhoreamerica.com/

  11. Jean K Says:

    I wasn’t assuming. The student talked about what her parents know and don’t know in this interview: http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2014/02/14/portrait-porn-star

  12. I would definitely agree, Daniel. Her argument struck me as a strawperson.
    Was also confused as to why she thought that the porn institution is potentially redeemable. Maybe I’m just stuck in my ways, but after encountering people like Dworkin a few years back, I don’t see any possibility.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    This is a delicate issue, and one in which people’s views can easily be skewed, misrepresented and caricatured. There is much that merits distinctly philosophical interest in this article; too much to be addressed with any great specificity or depth here.

    I would never want to deprive anyone of the sorts of experiences that she wishes to have and does have. I’d also want her and her colleagues to feel and be protected from society’s derisions and double standards. She does not deserve the kind of deplorable treatment that she has suffered.

    Having said that, I wish to speak as the parent of a child whose peer group will soon, or are perhaps already is, accessing porn through the internet and being taught about sex through porn. It’s true that a child’s sexuality begins to develop at a young age and they should not have it damaged by a puritanical brigade (that might well argue that masturbation would cause a vagina or penis to fall off).

    I don’t, however, believe that their sexuality should be dictated to by the extremely powerful images that much porn presents, as does much visual culture more widely conceived. We ought to take great care over the development of young minds and bodies and if the porn industry wishes to survive, which it undoubtedly will, it ought to take this very seriously. Sex workers should not be made to feel degraded by the choice they have made to participate in that industry, but they are at least partially responsible for the impact their choices have on a subclass of their audience *especially* if they partake in porn by choice.

    Secondly, I wonder how easy it would be for this young girl to admit any negativity about what she has “chosen” to do in order to pay her tuition fees. One might wonder if in fact she did *choose* to engage in performing in porn films. There is, I’m afraid, at least the potential for false consciousness. She might, nevertheless, insist that she has decided to do what she does because she wants to, and furthermore, takes pleasure in doing so and benefits by presumably being able to afford her studies. Fair enough, and while I can see this might be true, the question also remains that it would be very difficult for her, given her circumstances, to admit of not enjoying, or not having enjoyed such experiences.

    I am not against sexual explicitness, the task at hand is to ensure that we protect both sex workers, and their audiences, from harm.

  14. Friends, I think you re ignoring the elephant in the room here. The pornography industry proves people can make a lot of money from fools, as they can from gambling, prostitution, etc. I’m beginning to think the education industry, at least the higher end of it, is doing the same thing. What’s the value of a $60K/yr education to a young woman like this? She apparently values it highly because she is willing to sell part of herself to get it.

    What if, once she gets it, she finds the value doesn’t equal $60K/yr. Can she get her money back? No. No more than can the fools who buy pornography. IMO she’s more a victim of the higher education industry than of the porno business. She’s avoiding the student loan problem by working in an industry most of us don’t approve of, but in which she can make enough money to satisfy Duke’s “needs.”

    I wish her well.


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