Reasons to Support Belle Knox (Even if You Don’t Agree With Her)

For weeks, the media has been in an uproar over Belle Knox, the freshman at Duke University who works as a porn star to pay for tuition.

Well, maybe uproar is the wrong word. The media has been downright civil compared to the mudslinging from everyone else—people who have done everything from revealing her real name to threatening to throw garbage on her.

You don’t have to agree with Knox’s choices to side with her, though. We all have our demons, and Knox must bear the consequences of her actions like anyone else. Regardless of how others feel about her decision to work in porn, Knox’s approach to the scandal is still admirable for many reasons:

  • She exposed Duke’s rape culture, a phenomenon in which privileged students think they can get anything they want—including nonconsensual sex. Rape pervades college campuses around the country, so kudos to Knox for discussing how victims, particularly women, are subject to scrutiny and objectification from those who are in no position to judge.
  • She stood up for herself, and shows no signs of stopping. Knox wrote a response to the Duke Chronicle’s first article about her, interviewed with the Huffington Post (among others—she has an upcoming media tour as well), and has already posted multiple articles for xoJane. You have to respect Knox’s determination to stand by her beliefs—and she articulates them well for a college freshman.
  • She’s starting a conversation. Knox raises questions about how our culture should approach sexuality, and has brought further attention to the rising cost of college education. If a student feels driven to work in porn because she can’t afford tuition, what does the choice say about the value of a college degree?

Knox claims to feel empowered working as a porn star, but those feelings don’t apply to everyone in the industry. Too often, sex is used as a pawn to assign or remove power; consider the porn stars who feel powerless at work, or the plight of sex slaves who never had the freedom to choose and suffer constant degradation. People who judge Knox for her choices use their own sexual morality as a way to establish power over her—no different than people in these adult industries who corrupt human sexuality for personal gains.

Marginalizing people does not change their actions, though; it just reinforces Knox’s view that entitlement places stigmas on outsiders, even though everyone is broken in some way. It reduces righteousness to cruelty.

So let’s treat Knox like this: instead of writing murder and rape threats from behind the safety of our computer screens, let’s see her as a real person—a person with dignity who makes choices and has to live with them like the rest of us.

Do you feel like Knox has been treated unfairly? Leave us a comment.

-Amanda

Amanda Suazo, editor, joined BSB in 2010 as the writing guru for the organization’s website, official documents, and documentary before focusing a bit on philanthropy. Now a graduate of Gonzaga University, she is currently an MBA student and freelance writer. Between Zumba classes and downing espresso, you might catch her attempting to be a vegetarian. Find her on Twitter.

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9 thoughts on “Reasons to Support Belle Knox (Even if You Don’t Agree With Her)

  1. amy March 26, 2014 / 4:33 pm

    Don’t harass her, but for the love of god don’t admire her. She is both a whore in the traditional sense of the word and an attention whore. Any time somrone says rape culture I just laugh, when people have drunk sex and the girl regrets it’s not rape, even if some states ludicrously have that as a statute. There are very few actual rapes on campuses in the US, come to the third world shit hole I live in and ill show you real ‘Rape culture’.

    • Amanda Suazo (@suazgirl) March 26, 2014 / 8:29 pm

      Thanks for reading, amy. Keep in mind that Knox attempted to keep her porn star identity secret, but a student leaked her information; for that reason, I don’t think that she asked for the attention. Still, she has handled it very well so far given the circumstances.

      Rape culture doesn’t necessarily promote drunk sex; it promotes beliefs and ideologies that intrinsically support rape (defined as nonconsensual sex) and shames its victims. If you’re too intoxicated to give consent, then it is “actual rape.” “Actual rape” also happens in countries, including the United States, where sex trafficking occurs. “Actual rape” happens in a lot of places, but people are still too afraid to speak up about it because the rape culture suppresses them; at least Knox advocates for those who are too afraid or threatened to tell their own stories.

      As an added note, I don’t “admire” Belle Knox either. I don’t agree with her decision to work in the porn industry–but I do believe she deserves respect. Once more, thanks for reading.

      • amy March 27, 2014 / 10:38 am

        I know she was outed, but it is her actions afterwards that make me think she is an attention whore. I honestly think she does it to further her porn career. I am not talking about blackout drunk, then it is definatly still rape, but if a girl is drunk and she consents it is still rape in some states. The guy is to blame because in many places forced to penitrate doesn’t count as rape. You have to be hold acountable for your actions when drunk. Up until 1998 in south africa, you could get away with crimes if you where considered drunk enough. People literally downed half a bottle of vodka on porpose and murdered people as they new they where protected by the law, at worst they would be charged with man slaughter. Could you elaborate on rape culture in the us, even as a girl I think it’s modern feminist bullshit.

  2. Amanda Suazo (@suazgirl) March 27, 2014 / 6:55 pm

    Here’s a nice explanation about rape culture from the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/toula-foscolos/rape-culture-exist_b_4913727.html?just_reloaded=1
    Also, look up the trending #rapecultureiswhen hashtag on Twitter.

    Essentially, rape culture consists of the widespread misconceptions about rape that uphold rapists and downplay victims: common examples include accusing women of “asking for it” with their wardrobe choices, rape jokes, and not holding rapists accountable for their actions (through shorter legal proceedings or minimal consequences, for example). According to the above article, it was first coined in the 1970s. Some use the term to spread awareness, others argue that it doesn’t lead to a productive discourse about rape.

    Here are some other popular explanations of rape culture on the web:
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/what-is-rape-culture
    http://www.marshall.edu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/
    http://www.shakesville.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html

    Hopefully this helps, amy. Thanks for keeping the discussion going!

  3. amy March 27, 2014 / 10:42 pm

    There are some valid points there but, those articles ranged from informative to ridicules.(im not trying to be offensive, i am just giving my views on the concept of rape culture)

    ‘Teaching women to avoid getting raped instead of teaching men not to rape’ Men know rape is bad just as people know murder is bad, it doesn’t mean that both murder and rape aren’t going to happen. I am at law school and i know that anything to do with sexual violence is very heavily in the favor of women(in terms of laws and sentencing). The law has done us many favours to combat this. Do you honestly think men don’t know rape is a serious crime. And why would you not takes steps to prevent the off chance of it happening.

    ‘Inflating false rape report statistics’ works both ways, i have read a statistic that said 1 in 4 women In US colleges have been raped, there are far more inflated rape statistics than there are inflated false rape report statistics.

    One of the articles say that women fear rape every day and adjust their life accordingly. Believe it or not if you count prison rape, there are more male rape victims than women, that’s right being a man means you statistically have a higher chance of being raped. you may say, ” well they are criminals who cares ” The US has the highest conviction rate in the world, 96% of which are men. Yes the higher levels of testosterone in men makes them more prone to physical violence, but the hypersensitivity born out of the response of the backlash against “rape culture” has an influence on these incarceration statistics. Let no body fool you, in a legal sense, being a white western women is the most privileged gender race combo in the world.

    The “gray rape” concept is absurd. If you didn’t physically try to stop someone from having sex with you, then you didn’t mind all that much did you? “This”, even if sometimes it semantically counts as rape, isn’t rape. And i doubt you legitimately had the fear that the guy would kill you or something if you didn’t put out. Seriously! you are going to call a man who, in a moment decides to have sex with his girlfriend, who doesn’t say no and doesn’t resist him physically, a rapist. And how is a person supposed to know if they are truly into the moment. with this and a couple of hypersensitive ideas, you yourself trivialize rape, seriously this gray “rape” idea trivializes “real rape”

    On to sexual objectification. sexual objectification is the greatest social advantage a women has, if you are even slightly attractive you benefit from it. Yes this is bad, but look into evolutionary biology, we benefit from it. I also don’t like it,but it is a trait of human biology and it can’t be changed. Man= success object, women= sex object, sad but true.

    The rest just sounds like a bunch of girls afraid of rape jokes. when a joke that attains to murder no body raise an eyebrow, but if its about rape everybody is offended. This is only born out of your own fear of rape, but you know you are more likely to get murdered.

    Some of my points are exaggerated and slightly play the devil’s advocate, but the points you brought up and those articles where far worse of an exaggeration on contemporary culture and i felt this was the best way to respond. Don’t go to far to one side like these articles and some of my points. Such an exaggerated stance like some modern feminists hold, is detrimental to everyone.( i do not mean to hate by what i have written.

    • Amanda Suazo (@suazgirl) March 29, 2014 / 12:14 am

      These are all great points–and the original post only meant to give Knox credit for opening up more conversations like these. Though I personally find validity in the argument for rape culture, these kinds of viral articles I linked also spread more awareness about issues affecting men and women (rape or beyond) that people may not otherwise know about. People who research before making conclusions about those issues allows for a healthy and honest discourse.

      And no hate taken. 🙂 It’s just good to get the conversation going.

  4. Gia Regency April 3, 2014 / 3:28 am

    Having gone through similar experiences as Belle, I do not believe she is an “attention whore.” (Interesting choice of words, by the way. Adult film actresses are not “whores” any more than Natalie Portman from “Black Swan” or Adele Exarchopoulous from “Blue is the Warmest Color.” These women all appeared with other actors who also got paid for the production of a film meant for public entertainment. The only difference is that in Belle’s (and my own scenes) the sex was real, instead of simulated. It’s interesting what a double standard there is in our culture, that women can appear nude or scantily clad in Maxim or Sports Illustrated, brazenly selling their sexuality, but the minute they appear on film demonstrating a natural human act that everyone participates in, they get slut shamed, degraded, and branded as “whores.” it’s okay if it’s a big budget blockbuster and the actresses are getting paid millions of dollars, but if it’s a small production, it’s considered smut. Belle is not an attention “whore.” She is merely doing what any smart person in her situation would do, which is making the best of a horrible situation, allowing herself the opportunity to present her side of the situation, and yes, capitalizing off of the bad press, with good reason, because her talents and intelligence will forever take a back seat to her reputation due to this scandal, and she will mostly likely be blackballed from all of the best jobs and positions that she might have gotten had this news not broken out the way that it did. I also think it’s an interesting question as to why intelligent female college students with borderline genius IQs find that the best way to support themselves is to do adult work. Why aren’t there more work assistance programs, not just for minorities, but for other college students who have demonstrated merit?

    • Amanda Suazo (@suazgirl) April 4, 2014 / 8:28 pm

      Thanks for reading, Gia. The double standards are indeed deplorable; I read plenty of stories about fraternity members shaming Knox as well even though they make up a target demographic in the porn industry. Considering the scandal surrounding her, her openness in the media is the best way to expose the mistreatment that workers in the industry constantly face. Kudos to that, because there’s no way to justify the threats and name-calling she (or anyone like her) receives.

      There should undoubtedly be more work assistance programs for struggling college students. But in reality, Knox knew that nobody would hire a recent high school graduate for any remotely fulfilling work; that’s just the nature of the job market when you have little experience. The fact that she rejected a full-ride scholarship to Vanderbilt in favor of Duke still bewilders me–she could have avoided the decision to do adult work altogether.

  5. bob April 6, 2014 / 4:20 pm

    To gia who said she is not a whore, whore is a proper word, it’s in the dictionary, it has a definition and she definitely fits the definition. you can’t get around the semantics of it. The only way you could call Natalie Portman etc, whores is if they compromised their principles to make personal gains, as in if they wanted to do the scenes and sell the music that they do, then they can’t be called whores. Even if belle wholeheartedly wanted/wants to do porn, and doing so does not compromise her principles at all, she is still a whore. sex worker is literally a synonym for whore. if you can’t call a pornstar a whore, i guess you can’t call anyone a whore. Also being a whore in a purely sexual sense is the origin of the word and is seen as more derogatory.

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