The demise of shame





Marcus attempted to tackle a variety of issues, through the lens of the Duke University undergraduate who was recently discovered by a classmate to be working in the adult film industry to pay for tuition.

She criticizes Belle Knox — the girl’s “nom de porn” — for citing female empowerment and freedom from patriarchy as reasons she loves her night job. Knox apparently feels she’s participating in a sexual revolution in which women will, for once, come out on top. No pun intended.

Though I disagree with Knox’s premise — porn is notorious for exploiting and misrepresenting women, and that won’t change any time soon — the holes Marcus tries to poke in Knox’s statements for the sake of exposing college “hook-up culture run amok and the demise of shame” originate in the mentality that Knox, however clumsily, is trying to reverse.

Marcus points out that Knox was “outed” by a male classmate who recognized her while watching one of her company’s films and “told his frat-boy friends,” a pointedly condescending stereotyping of the male Greek community that isn’t even rooted in fact, according to other articles published about Knox.
 
The pigeonholing doesn’t end there.

“It would be naive to expect that they, like thousands of teenage boys, don’t spend some computer time on activities other than studying,” Marcus writes. “Fine. Boys will be boys, and girls too, for that matter.”

Apparently Marcus doesn’t actually have a problem with boys consuming porn. Or girls, either. Where she does take issue is the “vulnerability underlying the faux-feminist, hear-me-roar bravado about rejecting slut-shaming.”

There are few things more frustrating than members of news media who employ gender stereotypes to attack feminism and argue that our society has eroded to youths recklessly pursuing a superficial, family-values-threatening hook-up. Porn doesn’t seem empowering. It seems fake, misleading, and exploitative of men and women alike.

I am encouraged by the fact that sex, an essential part of life, is now easier to talk about. That doesn’t just align with feminism, it promotes human rights as a whole. 

It is far easier now than 50 or even 20 years ago for someone with a question, an issue, a disorder, a trauma or a disease to find health care, answers and professional support.

In fact, someone with any of the above worries or interests could just as easily chat with a friend at the mailbox without requiring the advice of a doctor, therapist or
sociologist.

Our generation is OK with sex. Some may handle their sexuality in a manner that society as a whole still deems wrong or immoral, and I have no problem affirming that I think porn is the wrong way to pay for college. But if we’re talking feminism, or just self-empowerment in general, I’m thankful that we as a youth culture are creating a world in which something so natural is no longer hidden or feared as corrupt or disgraceful.

Marcus cites “the demise of shame” as a travesty, but that should be our goal. The resulting improvement in our nation’s mental health is invaluable, especially when it comes to defending individuality from naysayers like her.

sbkissel@indiana.edu

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