Duke University’s Porn Star

photo

You’ve probably heard the news: A freshman at Duke University is doing porn. Word got out that she was a “porn star” and so she decided to defend her decision by giving an interview to Duke’s student newspaper.

You’re Shocked, Why?

Why, exactly, are people shocked at this? We live in a pornographic culture; one that glorifies fornication, pushes contraception, and justifies (celebrates?) abortion.

And now it’s come to light that one woman at university is doing what many other women are doing at university with one, maybe two, distinctions: 1) There’s a camera rolling; 2) she’s getting paid.

Why is she doing 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. Because to be clear: My experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.

How We Should Respond

Many people who oppose pornography cling to the belief that the only reason a woman would do porn is because 1) she experienced some sort of trauma (sexual or otherwise) as a child, 2) she’s desperate for money but really doesn’t want to be doing it, and/or 3) she’s been manipulated into it somehow.

This isn’t always the case and so it isn’t all that helpful to argue in the following way:

1. Most porn stars have been abused.

2. Many porn stars have been coerced or manipulated into doing porn.

3. Therefore porn is wrong.

Someone could rightly retort, “but what about the one’s who, like this girl at Duke, find it fun and empowering?” That’s a good objection; a devastating one to the argument above.

It’s helpful, I think, to distinguish between the motivations and consequences of an certain action, and the action itself.

A thing isn’t necessarily right or wrong because of what motivated a person to do it (perhaps a woman’s past abuse is what motivates her to reach out to and help sex workers!). Nor is a thing necessarily wrong because of it’s consequences (if the oral contraceptive pill one day becomes as healthy and natural as a vitamin supplement, Catholics would still oppose it, even though it no longer had any negative consequences).

Porn is wrong, in part, because it removes sexual intimacy from the partners and displays it to the public in order to arouse lust, an inappropriate/warped desire. It, as I’ve said many times, is reductive. It reduces a person to the lowest common denominator and says, “that’ll do me fine.” A quote often attributed to (soon to be saint) John Paul II (though I’ve never been able to track it down) is “pornography isn’t wrong because it shows too much. It’s wrong because it shows too little of the human person.”

But how should we respond to porn stars who say they enjoy making porn? Not by telling them they’re lying (unless you’re a mind reader you probably don’t have access to that information). Instead we might pose a question: Does a woman’s inability to perceive her own dignity give you or me the right to take from her whatever she’s willing to give? If a woman forget’s her intrinsic worth, or, if she refuses to accept it, or mistakenly thinks that porn is an exercise of her freedom, does that give you or me the right to objectify her?

Is this what masculinity amounts to? So long as we don’t rape her we’re technically being good boys?

Abuse and the Performer

I do think it’s true, however, that many women who end up in the sex industry did experience some kind of abuse or neglect (that’s at least been my experience in conversing with those in the industry). Even popular porn performers like J. Jameson admit to this. In her autobiography she concedes that she would lie to interviewers (Howard Stern in this case) about having been abused as a younger girl because she didn’t want anyone to think that she got into the industry as a “victim.” Her story brought me to tears. As she was walking home one day she was offered a ride by some football players. They drove her out into the desert, beat her in the head with a rock and gang-raped her (Hail Mary…). And this she says had absolutely nothing to do with her future career choice. Well, perhaps it didn’t, but I’m doubtful.

The women that I know who used to be in the industry tell me two things: 1) they’d never admit that they were abused, and 2) they all lied about loving sex while they were in the industry. One former performer explains why:

I used to brag endlessly to fans and pornographers about my extreme “Italian” sex drive and how I loved making porn movies. I would go on and on about how I needed more and more to fulfill my insatiable appetite. I lied 100% of the time to 100% of the people. Lying is the native language of porn stars because they can’t afford to tell you the truth. Not only would it ruin the fantasy for their fans but more importantly, it would ruin the amount of their paychecks. Don’t believe porn actresses when they proudly proclaim they enjoy making porn movies. They’re ACTING.

What would you expect them to say? “I really hate this job, the men I perform with make me sick. I resent you for purchasing the porn that allows me to the live the sort of lifestyle I’ve become accustomed to (or, allows me to feed my family and me).”

Let’s pray for Lauren and all those who objectify her. Hail Mary…

ps If you study at Duke, let me know so I can send you a couple of boxes of my latest book, Delivered.

delivered banner-1

9 thoughts on “Duke University’s Porn Star

  1. “If a woman forget’s her intrinsic worth, or, if she refuses to accept it, or mistakenly thinks that porn is an exercise of her freedom, does that give you or me the right to objectify her?” — Very well put!

    Also, I saw (Duke girl) Lauren’s post a few days ago and could disagree on a factual level with at least one of her claims, which is the following: “To the anti-pornography feminists out there: I very much respect your opinion. Nevertheless, I want you to consider how you marginalize a group of women by condemning their actions. Consider that when you demean women for participating in sex work, you are demeaning THEM…” — I don’t think that by condemning an action you’re condemning a person. I like to differentiate very much between the two. I can act with love toward this girl, but hate what she’s doing — just like when your firend’s doing something dumb and you want to help him/her. Actions may eventually change who we are. But the person is still the person, and the action still the action. People can always change.

    1. I agree, a persons actions are separate from the person doing them. I am reminded of the relationship between Captain Malcolm Reynolds and Inara in the TV show Firefly. Mal made jokes and insulted Inara’s profession as a “Companion” but when someone mistreats Inara, Mal punches him in the face.
      “Inara: You have a strange sense of nobility Captain. You’ll lay a man out for implying I’m a whore but you keep calling me one to my face.
      Mal: I might not show respect to your job, but he didn’t respect *you*. That’s the difference. Inara, he doesn’t even see you.”

      BTW, if you haven’t seen Firefly you should see it. It was only on the air for 12 episodes before Fox canceled it. Despite that there are only 2 kinds of people in the world, those who love Firefly and those who haven’t seen it yet. =)

  2. Excellent Matt! Too often we want to explain away a behavior based on a person’s past experiences, when sometimes it is society motivating the acceptability of an action. When a generation hears something is acceptable and good, they come to believe it, no matter how obvious it may be to others that it is not; I believe that would reduce the culpability of the person motivated to participate in that action. “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should”… God Bless!

  3. Great article, Matt. I noticed you mentioned the quote “often attributed to JPII.” I heard that he may not have said that. Have you come across the source, or is it one of those that can’t be traced to any specific writing but sounds like his philosophy?

    Thanks.

    1. Thanks Josh. I’ve heard that something like it may have been in the very first edition of Love and Responsibility, but can’t back that up.

  4. Her ‘porn name’ is [name removed by Matt Fradd for privacy] and (while holding my breath and squinting) I searched further (beyond news-link titles) and saw in an image of her (not proud of this) that she has scars all over her upper left thigh, which could be from anything, but considering how many there were and their size and placement, I’d say she is/was a cutter. = She has issues, and is lying about any positive side to what she’s doing. Going to go bathe in Holy Water now….

    1. Wow. I could just imagine that this young woman (Lauren) is crying alone somewhere because she is longing for authentic love, and she isn’t finding real love doing porn. She needs a copy of Delivered!

  5. Wonderful article!
    I wonder if it could be that this woman is lying to herself. How else could you look at yourself in the mirror every day? There is not congruence between what she does and who she believes she is, so to repress that anxiety caused by this internal conflict she tells herself that she loves it. If you tell yourself anything long enough you might just come to believe it. She does have a point in the sense that our society glorifies casual sex, toys, etc, so why are they so shocked when they discover they know someone in the porn industry? It should be a sign to our society that in the deepest core of their being they know casual sex and our oversexualized culture is not what God intended and not what our hearts truly desire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *