Belle Knox followup

With her real identity exposed for the first time as Miriam Weeks, otherwise known by her stage alias, “Belle Knox,” the Duke University porn star, the story that seems to follow her expands and stirs up more controversy each week.

The origin of Weeks’s nickname, “Belle Knox” was revealed as a play off of alleged murderess, Amanda Knox, and Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, in all a commercial ploy at Weeks’s youthful naiveté and her Duke-educated intellect.

Rumor of Weeks’s family’s reaction to her unusual choice of “work study” surfaced as well. Dr. Kevin and Harcharan Weeks were said to be heartbroken at the news – their daughter denying these allegations despite the now-public knowledge of her parents being devout Catholics from Spokane, Washington.

In addition, speculation has increased regarding whether or not Weeks is as financially unstable as she claims. Her parents paid a total of $44,000 for four years of private Jesuit high school. Although $47,000 a year is quite a jump from Weeks’s high school tuition, she and her family chose private academic institutions not one, but two times above public and less expensive ones, despite her family’s alleged financial constraints. These constraints, as she explains them, are neither uncommon nor severe.

The pressures of having money at private liberal arts institutions like Duke and even Lafayette are prevalent. Coming from a middle- to upper-middle-class household, it would not be a stretch to think that the allowance Weeks’s family was providing for her, considering she was never cut off from that fund, was enough for her to keep up with the expenses many college students face outside tuition.

“Making the choice to engage in the production of pornography (or consume it

for that matter) is extremely personal and should not in any way effect

people’s perceptions of Ms. Weeks,” Associate Dean of Intercultural Development and Director of Gender and Sexuality Programs Gene Kelly said in an email. “Of course, this is me living in a dream world, since most cannot help but judge her now for her behavior.”

Duke freshman Thomas Bagley, member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, can be counted as one of the many who judged Weeks for her actions despite his own consumption of online pornography. His skin-flick web escapades were published on the internet this week by Mike Kulich, CEO of porn company Monarchy Pictures.

Kulich wrote in a public letter to Bagley, “I love our fans and I love you. You are the type of guy that makes our business move,” Kulich wrote. He also offered Bagley $10,000 to star in his own feature in order to make all of his “wildest fantasies” come true.

“People who view porn need to watch it with a critical eye,” Heather Hughes ‘15 President of Association for Lafayette Feminists said. “Realize that porn is not a representation of all or most women, but a certain subset whose appearance and actions are heavily controlled by the conditions of their industry,”

The conversation continues on the double standard and hypocrisy surrounding women in the sex industry.

“On one side are those folks that argue that if we are to truly encourage women’s empowerment and choice, this may amount to behaviors that we ourselves would not engage in,” Kelly said.

Porn is a guilty-pleasure. It can even be described as an undocumented hobby, yet those who are in the “sex industry” like go-go dancers, strippers, phone sex operators, actors in pornographic videos, or amateur-based webcam sites are labeled as “sluts” and “whores.”

“On the other side are those that argue that pornography in any form is disempowering to women because it reduces women to nothing more than sexual objects,” Kelly said.

Weeks’s critics are vocal about her young age and her contribution to an already over-sexualized female stereotype, particularly the demure and clueless college freshman. Weeks, above others who go into the sex industry out of desperation to pay the bills or provide for children, had tremendous opportunities because she is at a prestigious institution like Duke.

Her choice to enter the porn industry was not one done out of dire need. Her suspect financial situation and her claim of empowerment and heroism in an industry run rampant with abuse among other things drive many to question the maturity Weeks claims to have about her choice. But Kelly said that we need to remember the person in front of the character, not just their image.

“The person you see on your screen is actually a person, a real individual who has feelings. It’s easy to judge and hate when you forget that part,” Kelly said.

Although it is true, that porn stars have feelings too, it’s difficult not to detect a high contaminate level on the bull meter when it comes to Miriam Weeks’s justifications for her “empowered” choice.