Duke

I’m sure that the blogosphere is and has been blowing up about the Duke University freshman who is a porn star, but I’ll be honest: I haven’t really looked outside of my own little circle of blogs I follow, and within it, I haven’t seen a single mention. That really surprises me, given the blogs I read. It also means that a lot of people in my circle of friends are probably oblivious to the topic and the conversations I’d like to have surrounding it.

So, here’s me, having a conversation with myself about it.

Over at xojane.com, the woman in question submitted an absolutely amazing, well-written, honest and direct response to the negative attention her story has been getting, in a piece titled “I’m the Duke University Freshman Porn Star and for the First Time I am Telling The Story in My Words“. I absolutely loved reading it. You should read it. It’s good stuff from an articulate Duke student, which I think makes it even more powerful.

I am well aware: The threat I pose to the patriarchy is enormous. That a woman could be intelligent, educated and CHOOSE to be a sex worker is almost unfathomable.

That’s it right there; people are so aghast because, as an articulate Duke student, why on earth would she choose PORN?!

…the answer is actually quite simple. I couldn’t afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I absolutely love.

SHE LOVES IT! She absolutely loves it! And who wouldn’t? Sex is awesome! Being filmed having sex, if that’s your thing, is awesome! And think about it, as the Duke Chronicle article about Lauren* (name changed) points out: “With an estimated 450 million visitors each month, porn sites account for 30 percent of all data transferred across the Internet.”

Clearly, people, lots of people, watch porn. If Lauren gets off on making it, and people get off on watching it, who’s losing here? Why are people so up in arms and upset?

In addition to explaining her personal experience with filming porn, Lauren also brings up issues bigger than herself: the fact that, though she has had a wonderful experience in porn, many women do not, but the problem can’t be addressed if we keep pretending that these women “deserved it” for choosing to be sex workers. She brings up slut-shaming and rape apology, which she has encountered outside of the pornography world, but not within it. She addresses the issue of society convincing women that sex is shameful, something to withhold, something to make hard to get – but not too hard, lest you land on the “prude” end of the female sexuality dichotomy rather than the “slut” end.

Wait, what? Exactly.

She’s intelligent and aware. She asks anti-pornography feminists, and everyone, to “deconstruct why they treat female sexuality with such disdain,” to ask ourselves why “we condemn women who have had multiple sexual partners outside of a marriage.”

Great thinking points, great talking points. I like this girl.

I can say definitively that I have never felt more empowered or happy doing anything else. In a world where women are so often robbed of their choice, I am completely in control of my sexuality. As a bisexual woman with many sexual quirks, I feel completely accepted. It is freeing, it is empowering, it is wonderful, it is how the world should be.

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Purpose and Change

campfireToday, as I pack to leave for my relatively isolated summer camp, I’ve been asking myself the same questions I ask every three to four months while preparing to leave one place for another:

What have I learned here in this place? Is there anything I learned about myself while here that I can work on improving as I move on to a new season of work? Can I be a better friend, coworker, or person for the people I’m about to meet?

I came into this season of work very comfortable with myself and who I am, and I wanted that to show in my conversations, actions, and choices. I also wanted it to show when I offered friends advice or challenged their misconceptions with questions. At times, I think it’s possible that my openness with my lifestyle can make people uncomfortable, and I’ve been thinking about ways in which I can be comfortable and open without being offensive.

But, it’s hard. Sexuality is often automatically thought of as offensive in itself. As I think about whether and how to censor myself, I also think about the large number of people who have, in one way or another, informed me that my own openness about sexuality and encouragement of others to own their own sexuality has, indeed, inspired them to explore, question, celebrate, and talk with others, posing questions to people I wouldn’t be able to pose questions to, because I don’t know them. The journey and discovery has made many of my friends and acquaintances happier people who understand themselves better, and perhaps they’ve managed to pass that on to others.

I know that I can’t please everyone, and as someone who enjoys discussing a topic often considered sensitive, I may wind up pleasing less people rather than more. But, this isn’t a numbers game. I’m not trying to win masses over. I think that, of the many things I’ve learned this season, one that I’m going to remember the most is that huge differences can be made for individuals if you stop worrying about making a difference for a huge number of individuals. For those that know “The Starfish Story,” it seems cliche, but when you consider that I’m applying this to allowing people to think about their sexuality, I feel forgiveness for the cliche is warranted.

Back to packing I go; it will likely be a couple months before I post anything substantial, so have a great summer, and keep being your sexy self!