Normally, I try to keep this blog about the things I write and as a result share some of my inspiration for those things. But today, I felt the need to write about something a little different. About midmorning, I came across an interview with the so-called “Duke Porn Star,” Belle Knox on the Huffington Post. I’ve put a portion of the interview in this post, but the interview is scripted to playing in its extended form on their website here. I encourage you all to watch it, think about it, and discuss. Discussion is the only way we come to understand complex and nuanced points of view that differ from our own. That being said, I would like to share my point of view with you.
There are two things in this interview that really sort of bothered me. Her perspective on sexual autonomy (or maybe not hers particularly, rather the way the term is been used to describe an amoral approach to sexual conduct), and the fact that in the way she speaks, she seems to be speaking on behalf of sex workers everywhere. I will touch on those topics in that order.
First of all, I want to say openly that I support anyone’s decision to get involved in any field that they choose; this includes sex work. As long as you understand the risks involved and are capable of making a decision that is congruent with where you see yourself, and have no delusions about what you’re getting into, more power to you. My problem does not lie in her profession. My problem lies in the concept of sexual autonomy as it has been used by what I like to call pseudo-feminist idiots. Most of the time the argument essentially boils down to a woman should be able to do with her body as she sees fit. That’s very true; howeve,r we have to distinguish between what’s actually good for us, and whether or not we’re just horny. I say we because I think the same should hold true for men; just because you can do something (i.e. have a lot of sex with random strangers), it doesn’t mean you should. All too often the phrase sexual autonomy gets thrown around to give people an excuse to be sexually amoral and swing their penises and vaginas in random directions without thought to how it will affect them or the people with whom they involve themselves. As a former sex worker I suppose, although I never thought of it that way, I can tell you that this approach to sex is toxic to human intimacy in the context of an attempt at an honest romantic relationship. There are some people who can handle “alternative” relationship mechanics, but not very many people can.
When people speak up on an issue such as sexual liberation or autonomy, it has to be clear exactly what they mean. If it means having the right to be responsible for your own sexual choice, then I applaud you; so long as those choices attempt to be within the realm of responsible. If by sexual liberation one means the right to be a slut or a man whore simply for the sake of sexual gratification, I wholeheartedly disagree. My second issue is that she appears to be attempting to speak for all sex workers, and that is utterly impossible. She talks about how sex workers have more control than one might think, and that might be true in pornography, but it’s not necessarily true in prostitution. There are a lot of abuses people who do see prostitutes on a regular basis, and simply see them as a commodity to be exploited for their own pleasure.
There are others, like myself who see both working as a paid companion and seeing one as a way to make up for the intimacy that they lack in normal social situations, there are a variety of reasons this may be the case, but that’s a subject for another article. All I have to say, is be careful what you mean by sexual autonomy, don’t condemn people solely on the basis of what they choose to do, and remember the scope of your argument and try not to exceed that scope. Enjoy the rest of your day people! 🙂