Since the saga of Belle Knox (real name Miriam Weeks) has come out in the public terrain there has been an intriguing conversation as to why her ousting ought to translate to her belittlement and our reminder that the ostentatious young woman is at best a slut.
The truth is as far as I see it, is Belle Knox, aka Miriam Weeks may well be a slut, but that is besides the point, she personifies herself as one in a public terrain and that is what has many reviled. Reviled because our society demands and insists that women behave and respect puerile, docile and non threatening dispositions of a woman’s identity.
A woman ought to be able to behave and choose, like a man as they please. But I would like to draw a line somewhere. It’s just not women who are criticized for pursuing vocations as sex workers. Men are as well. The stigma is not strictly reserved for just women, but for men as well. Whilst some of you imagine that there is great acclaim for a man to bag as many women as possible (up to a certain point, as men are readily condemned if they are perceived to be bulldozing women into having sex) that point of view withers when that man happens to be a male adult performer.
Reflects one astute observer: But because men are generally assumed to be less vulnerable to sexual exploitation than women, we tend to view their participation as something different and more autonomous. (What man wouldn’t want to get paid to have sex, amirite?! etc.)
The collective cultural view of the sex industry is still one in which women are thought to make up the subjugated parties and men the johns who benefit from them. But what happens when men are the ones pulling a pay check from providing sexual services? And what does it mean if women are the ones paying for it? Would a woman buying the services of a female sex worker be less likely, in our view, to exploit her? Would a man purchasing time with a male sex worker be able to treat him the way we imagine female sex workers are treated? Undermined, degraded, exploited? Or would all of these transactions occur in much the same way as each other – occasionally enjoyable, often as expected and sometimes requiring action unfavourable to those workers involved.
We are reminded the male sex worker is not regarded as the same free spirited red blooded male outside of the adult business just doing his thing, but like a female actor they are regarded as subservient performers for our sakes whom we ought to feel some degree of embarrassment and shame for. Not a point of view that this author agrees to, but one can’t help but note the disjointed discussions in our society of what it means to be a porn actor.
Reflected poignantly one observer when it came to society’s attitude towards sex workers: Why do we view sex workers as the scum of the earth? Why are they the most insulting thing to compare other women to? Why is their entire life defined by their work? Why are their choices revoked because of their day–er–night job?
Who cares if a woman is a sex worker? If she thinks being a prostitute or a stripper is the best job ever, that’s her free choice. I will fight for her right to do as she pleases with her body. I will fight for her right to be viewed as a human being, treated with respect, given access to health care and protection under the law. No matter what her profession is (no matter whether I like her profession or not), it doesn’t diminish her humanity.
If we can agree to the notion that a woman like a man ought to be able to pursue their vocation then we must also ask if that which they pursue is also a healthy liberating occupation which also affirms their identity and gender equality? This unfortunately is where I have a hard time acquiescing to the view that just because Belle Knox chooses to pursue porn she is also an active feminist, empowering her female essence, someone whom we ought to all be proud of. To this I say firmly bollocks.
The actresses crux argument has always been as long as she as a woman feels empowered then its affirmative. Never mind if the act itself for so many would come under the ambit of degrading and defacing. Which is to suggest tastes and preferences are so often not as uniform as one presupposes and entirely subjective.
The actress correctly tells that it all portends to the shame of observers and not hers. Which is true but one ought to also consider the extent of how one’s actions can now serve to represent or influence other’s actions and skew the discourse of what counts for empowering for a group as a whole. Then again one wonders about the merit of finding joy in self mutilation (for Belle Knox this is just a walk in the park) even if it brings the inflicted temporary joy and daring to call that self affirmative
Just because a sex worker, male or female can claim they derive pleasure from debasement, especially in industry that subjugates women and male gay performers, it does not mean that the act of debasement isn’t on a whole self debasing for an entire gender, even if some of us insist we are that more empowered for it.
Whether one feels shame or not is irrelevant, it’s the act perpetrated which affirms or negates a man or a woman’s identity.
Belle Knox is of course free to do as she pleases but when she insists she is not being exploited and furthermore her actions are a positive affirmation of feminist virtues, it’s time to call a spade a spade…..and expose the deceit of her argument.
Being an empowered female or male also means choosing behavior and activities that empower one’s sense of self and sadly the pursuit of work as a sex worker, as liberating as it may be on stage is not an empowering vocation for those of us who wish to stand up to an industry that historically exploits both men and women. It is only when we perpetuate acts in arenas outside of subjugation and exploitation can we claim that we are empowering the collective lot of men and women.
Sorry Belle Knox, you are free to suck and fuck as you please but please don’t suggest that line of work is empowering for females. It is not. It is steeped in degradation of the female form and identity and we ought to aspire to vocations and acts that perpetuate positive role models and not endorse vocations that by default and definition degrade you, even if you so vehemently get off (and handsomely paid) on being degraded. Until then you are only endorsing the patriarchal order you so willfully condemn. You are a pawn. A well paid one….