A Conversation with Duke Porn Star and Feminist, Belle Knox

14626748464_452a99b9ac_z

by Monica Reid

It’s that time of the year again; students all over the world are returning to school with renewed hope and excitement for the upcoming year. But for some, namely Duke University sophomore and Spokane native Miriam Weeks, returning to her beloved university was less like going back to a newfound home, and more like entering unprecedented territory. Along with being a full-time Pre-Law student, Weeks also works as an adult film star, acting under the alias Belle Knox (NSFW). Last year, she endured hateful scrutiny and alienation from her peers, including violent threats, hate mail, cyber bullying, and slut shaming, for her decision to work in the porn industry. I had the opportunity to interview her about her experiences last year while at Duke, as well as her expectations for this year.

Monica Reid: Were you anxious to return to Duke University this year, considering everything that happened there last year?

Miriam Weeks: I was super anxious, but very pleasantly surprised.

MR: Last year, you had to simply try your best to stay strong and stand up for yourself against all the hatred aimed toward you and your career, but you said that this year, you have been pleasantly surprised. Has there been a difference in the way your peers have treated you this year versus last year?

MW: It seems that things have died down in the minds of other students and I am no longer the topic of everyone’s conversation here. I think that in a way, other students respect me for sticking it out and not giving in even when I was bullied and tormented so harshly.

MR: That is encouraging to hear! Did university faculty ever treat you differently after you were outed, and/or do they do so now?

MW: No, they have always treated me with the utmost professionalism.

MR: How has your career affected your school performance, if at all?

MW: I schedule all of my work events around my school schedule, so that I never miss any class time. It is, however, difficult to feel motivated to get all of my work done after I’ve been working and travelling all weekend long! I just keep my eye on the prize, but I’m still working on finding a balance.

MR: Is there anything else you would like to share regarding your overall experience working as an adult film actress while concurrently attending school?

MW: I’ve learned that college students are painfully bad at hiding their stares and whispers!

Weeks, successfully balancing an academic career at a prestigious university while also maintaining a professional career, is definitely impressive. Her bravery and fortitude are very evident in her decision to not allow the pain and horror she endured last year at Duke to stop her from returning. Pulling strength from within herself and her passion for sexual empowerment, fellow feminists who supported her, as well as those friends who remained loyal, Weeks made it through a truly hellish year. It seems that for now, her perseverance is paying off, and things may be looking up!

However, the fact that Weeks experienced discrimination and persecution in the first place is a large scale problem that many sex workers face when they decide to begin a career in the adult film industry. Weeks’ response to the harassment was groundbreaking, in that she chose to speak out against the violence she faced. She was, and still is, a catalyst for the movement towards awareness of and protection against the harassment of sex workers. What is Weeks’ advice for students considering a career in the adult film industry?

On my very first day in the industry, I was told by a fellow performer: ‘Don’t be in this industry if you aren’t okay with losing somebody that you love.’ I have found this to be very true, as I have lost some of my best friends and family members over my decision to become a porn star.

Doing porn is like getting a tattoo across your face. It is a permanent decision that will impact your life now and in the future. It is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly, and I advise any prospective performers to do their fair amount of research before they make a decision. There are benefits to a career in the industry, such as economic stability, the opportunity to travel and artistic expression, but there are also big costs.”

As a community of feminists at University of Idaho, we need to be aware of how our treatment of others affects their college experience. Universities everywhere need to strive to become safer places for students who are sex workers. We need to view these performers as individuals with dreams, goals, and passions, not as objects worthy of nothing more than judgment and cold-hearted criticism. Sex workers are valuable, inspiring people, just like you and I, and they deserve respect and recognition. Let Weeks’ story be a clear testimony to the need for a movement toward acceptance and support of sex workers everywhere.

Advertisements

One thought on “A Conversation with Duke Porn Star and Feminist, Belle Knox

  1. I am resoonding anonymously with a message. Good for you Miriam. You have survived the hostility from others and found that you can be a spokesperson and supporter of women who choose sex work to support themselves and reach their goals. I have read about a sex worker (hooker) in the past who was going to med school and used prostitution to help pay for it. She would be active for a while then return to school. I am sure there are many women who do porn or other sex work to better themselves.
    I look forward to the day that sex workers have the same status as gays do now.
    In other word.. in todays world the prevalent attitude is.this..
    Did you know that Neal Patrick Harris is gay?
    response.. Yes, everyone knows that and who cares?
    He is a very talented man and I really don’t care what his sexuality is..
    So in that spirit.. in the future I hope this conversation occurs..

    Did you know that Miram Weeks does porn?

    response: So what?, She is a hell of a laywer for womens rights and was intrumental in taking away the stigma against sex workers.
    I think she is an amazing person.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s