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.