Thoughts on the Duke Student Porn Star Story – Sex, Shame, Brainwashing, and the Loss of the Feminine

I have been reading everything I can find about this story of the Duke freshman woman who was recently unwillingly revealed to be a porn actress. (See also here.)

I am finding this story morbidly fascinating for the reprehensible reactions it is eliciting from so many people, and for the spectacular blindness these people appear to have to their own inconsistencies. How does anyone justify to themselves the nasty and threatening things that they have said to this woman? How do her choices in any way justify these reactions? In what way is her participation in pornography a license for others to degrade and threaten her?

Why does her story cause such strong reactions of disgust and revulsion in so many people? Why are people so unquestioning of their “gut” feelings? Doesn’t it seem odd to them that they are having such a strong reaction to a woman who they don’t know and who has done nothing to harm them? How did it get so personal for them? How can people be so mean, and so mindless?

It is very, very disappointing to watch people behave this badly. I seem to constantly expect people to do the work that I take for granted: question what you have been taught, question the gut reactions that have been programmed into you, question yourself. And I am disappointed, over and over. People can be so thoughtless, so unquestioning, so programmable.

And then there is the question that perhaps clamors the most loudly for an answer as a result of this whole story: why, in our culture, is there so much shame attached to sex? What I found most interesting in her interview with Piers Morgan was the way that every question he asked seemed to be a variation on the same underlying, unspoken question: isn’t pornography shameful? Aren’t you ashamed? Why aren’t you ashamed?

I think it is time people started to recognize in themselves this underlying assumption about how we are supposed to feel about sex, this burden of shame we carry, and ask themselves: why is sex something to feel shame about? Really, really question this reaction. Yes, we have been taught, in so many ways, to see sex as something a bit dirty and shameful. But it does not have to be so, does it? There is no logical basis for this “belief”, is there? Try to imagine a world in which sex is recognized as beautiful, natural, healthy, necessary. And then ask: why can’t that be our world?

If you go one step further, and ask yourself why there exists this culturally-inculcated belief that sex is shameful, you might arrive at the more “political” points this woman has herself made quite eloquently in the articles she has written. There seems to be something incredibly threatening about a woman who shows no shame about her desire for sex. Our culture expects a woman to be pliant and demure; to have sex, yes… but not really enjoy it. A woman who unabashedly likes sex, who hungers for it and seeks it, scares the crap out of people. And the reaction to this “threat” is the outpouring of anger that has occurred on various social media sites since this woman was “outed” at Duke.

I am horrified by the ongoing historical tragedy of the curtailing and containment of the power of women. I don’t look at this is a female issue, but as a human issue – all of us are reduced by this loss. We all suffer for it. It feels like we, as a species, have poked out or own eyes, and then forgotten that once we could see. We don’t even know what we are missing. And all of this seems to stem from some effort to control the feminine, to tame and contain it, to make it amenable to control. I wonder sometimes if we are on a long, long historical journey in which the more masculine powers have taken the upper hand for the past few thousand years. And the only way out of the terrible situations our world now confronts is to find again those powers that we have bound and hidden, to dig up that Pandora’s box that we have been taught to fear… and open it.

Advertisements

~ by untidymusings on March 8, 2014.

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

 
%d bloggers like this: