I like Belle Knox

Photo via Rolling Stone
Photo via Rolling Stone

Have you heard of this girl? Maybe you’d recognize her by her real name, Miriam Weeks. That’s what I’m going to call her. Miriam is a Duke University freshman (yes, freshman) who was recently outed as a porn star. A friend and Duke frat boy recognized her in a porn scene and asked her about it. She admitted doing porn, and he promptly shared his bounty of knowledge with his entire fraternity.

The thing is this girl is honest. When news traveled beyond the frat party, Miriam spoke up for herself. I’ve read a bunch of interviews on her and blog posts that she wrote herself. I particularly love this quote from xoJane, where she stands up for herself, “My sexuality is not some sort of blackmail to be used against me, granting you ownership over my life or my story. It is my life. It is my story.”

This girl keeps her cool. From what I can tell, Miriam didn’t start slinging mud to vent her anger. She never even named the frat boy who outed her, although another Duke student did. She simply defended her decisions and her family, saying, “My family deserves to be left alone…let’s keep this one to one. You don’t like what I do? Tell it to me. Have some guts.”

This girl is realistic. “The adult industry,” she writes for xoJane, “racks up $13.3 billion in the U.S. alone, and do we honestly wish collective evil, shame, and condemnation upon every human being involved in this gigantic (and… legitimate) business?” As they say, money doesn’t lie. So can’t we just hit the pause button on the public shaming and see Miriam as a girl who has discovered a way to get herself a first class education without racking up tons of debt?

This girl owns her pain. Miriam has admitted to being raped at a party in high school. So instead of giving into her fear and becoming a victim, she’s tried to turn her experience around. It’s exposure therapy. Plus she’s doing something she loves. “For me, shooting pornography brings me unimaginable joy,” she writes. “When I finish a scene, I know that I have done so and completed an honest day’s work. It is my artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home.”

This girl is smart. She’s turned the negative conversation around, speaking out against sexual shaming, and in alliance with other sex workers whose experiences have been more degrading and whose prospects in life are leagues below hers. She’s taken her so-called 15 minutes of fame as a chance to market herself, and to take opportunities as they are presented to her. Miriam wants to become a lawyer one day and advocate for women’s rights, using her gifts and experiences to help other women in the sex industry. I have no doubt that she will succeed.

This girl is responsible for herself. I admire her. She has a plan for the big picture, but she’s going with the flow along the way. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. She’s not letting her parents’ financial misfortune determine her future. I hope that each of my three kids grows up to be as daring, courageous, and intelligent as her.

This girl is learning. As a women’s studies major, Miriam has tossed around a fair amount of feminist commentary. I respect her for it, but I think feminism is beside the point. What really matters is being whole. In other words, to be truly healthy, each of us, regardless of gender, needs to come to terms with our dark side, sexuality included. Miriam’s is an extreme case, but it’s a good template for everyone. Let’s take a lesson from a teenage girl: The world would be a happier place if we could all share porn with our friends, shame excluded.

Miriam impresses me. She’s got guts. She proves that a girl can be smart and sexy at the same time.


16 thoughts on “I like Belle Knox

  1. My biggest issue with this is that she’s the one bearing the brunt of the criticism. Why is she the only one being shamed? Why is it only women who are ridiculed for being sex workers? You never hear this sort of uproar about a man doing porn or being a stripper.

    Most of us watch porn, but will never admit to it. But as Belle points out it’s a $13.3 industry so SOMEBODY is watching it. Let’s stop acting like we should be ashamed of watching it.

    1. Oh, I absolutely agree. It’s kind of heartbreaking to imagine that for every one Belle Knox, there are probably thousands of frat boys watching porn alone in their dorm rooms. I just think people should be able to own up to what they are doing and not be embarrassed about it.

  2. There’s nothing new under the sun, be it hypocrisy or heroics. I salute Belle’s honesty, and cock a snoop at the judgemental.

    The sadness I feel, within the context of this piece additional to the apparent lack of free will, is that of the ‘business’ of education. For me, in addition to freedom from persecution & freedom of speach, should be equal and open access to education (and healthcare) for ALL. Should one have to ‘prostitute’ oneself in any manner, for such basic human rights?

    1. I’m not sure I agree with you about lack of free will, but I do agree on open access to healthcare and education, for sure.

  3. I commend her for what she does. I’ve never looked down on porn stars or strippers. They’ve found something that they are good at and love doing, therefore, why should they be shamed for it? And I agree that women should not be the only ones ridiculed for being in the adult entertainment industry. If they are going to be shamed, then men should to, or just don’t shame them. She’s smart and beautiful and having that kind of self confidence and wanting to advocate for women’s rights is amazing. I think she’d be the perfect person for that.

  4. I think she should be commended for her willingness to make choices that many wouldn’t. She didn’t let society dictate what she would do.

    1. I agree, she hasn’t succumbed to the shaming, but in a way, didn’t the multi-billion-dollar porn industry influence her decision to begin with? Society is definitely two-faced.

  5. I think she’s to be commended for her honesty and for fearlessly saying “hey, this is who I am”. Though given the hypocrisy in society surrounding porn, I fear that she’ll face an uphill battle when the times comes to her post-porn career.

    1. I suspect it won’t be any harder than the uphill battle faced by any stay-at-home-mom returning to the workforce after a few years away. Hopefully she’ll be able to use her fame to her advantage. Nice to see you around here, sir.

      1. Mm! Well said, Christi. I sometimes wish I had a dollar for every time an HR manager said “Well, being a stay-at-home mom really isn’t working … I mean, we require that you *work* for 8 hours straight. It’s different than running carpool and having playdates”.

  6. On one hand, I worry for her going forward after college. I have recently read up on her too. What’s impressive is her ownership of it and her life. Yes, it’s one to one. Between her and whoever challenges her. And you are right, there are many boys out there criticizing but also watch her videos. Nicely written post!

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