Saturday, March 15, 2014

Duke’s Porn Star & Pope Francis’ Lenten Intentions

Pope Francis’ Lenten message for 2014 calls all Catholics to confront destitution in its varying forms of extreme poverty, spiritual destitution, and moral destitution. He writes: “Moral destitution…consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members – often a young person - is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography!”
I thought of this when I recently read about the Duke University student who turned to adult films to pay for her college tuition. Her work under the name “Belle Knox,” was found out when another student on campus watched one of her films and recognized her. He confronted her about it on campus. “Belle” asked him to keep it under wraps but within a few days the “gentleman” spread word to all the fraternities on campus.
As word spread, this young woman was left with the choice to retreat or proudly stand by her chosen line of work. She chose the latter. “Belle” wrote an article for the online magazine xoJane defending her activity as a sex worker and responded to criticism with articulate, at times astute, and at other times quite baffling, arguments. It is, perhaps, in her vocal , articulate defense of her activity that the media has found the shock value of her situation. She wrote in her article for xoJane.com: “For me, shooting pornography brings me unimaginable joy. When I finish a scene, I know that I have … completed an honest day’s work. It is my artistic outlet: my love, my happiness, my home.”
The media reaction to this young woman's activity has been at turns laudatory, critical, and patronizing. But what has been most interesting to me is the lack of interest or criticism for the young man who “outed” her. In fact, the male student’s full name was used in the earliest articles that can be found on the subject without the slightest concern for his well being or future ability to land a job, (something people are concerned about in respect to “Belle”).
It seems American society has begun to accept porn watching as normal, and expected in a radical way. But most of us still draw the line at participating in porn, which very clearly reveals a hypocritical double standard. A double standard that does not only apply to young women. A young, male senior in high school was recently suspending from school for participating in an adult film in order to pay his mother’s bills. Major outlets covered the news. This incident, like Belle’s case, was discovered by fellow students. However, in both Belle’s case and the young man’s case, the media seem generally unconcerned that the pornographic consumption at both Duke and this young man’s high school was so high that out of all the adult films that are out there, their activity was discovered within what seems to be a very short amount of time.
More shocking to me than teenage pornography use and participation in pornography is adult indifference to the problem. This laissez-faire approach to the problem of pornography is seen virtually everywhere. In an otherwise insightful op-ed on the subject at the Washington Post, Ruth Marcus writes: “It would be naive to expect that [Belle’s classmates], like thousands of teenage boys, don’t spend some computer time on activities other than studying. Fine. Boys will be boys, and girls too, for that matter. What should concern us is the extreme nature of the content they’re viewing and the way that inevitably seeps into their attitudes toward real-life sex.” Really? We should only be concerned about this growing trend of young people participating in pornographic films and watching pornography if the sex that is depicted is extreme?
As we carry this story and this societal problem in our hearts during this Lent, I encourage everyone to pray both for “Belle” and other men and women who participate in the porn industry as well as those who are caught up in temptations to or addiction to porn.
I am thankful that against the tide of “boys will be boys” and “girls will be girls” we have many Christians who, rooted in their belief in the saving power of Jesus, proudly declare “Pornography is not normal. Pornography is not healthy. Pornography is not empowering. Power and freedom is found not in doing what is wrong and unhealthy for ourselves, others and society as a whole, but in doing what is good, what is truly empowering and what is in line with the true meaning and beauty of sexuality.”
Some resources and further information:
  1. Bishop Loverde of the Arlington diocese in Virginia wrote a beautiful pastoral letter, Bought with a Price, on the issue of pornography with a foreword written by Matt Fradd, author of Delivered. You can access the PDF of the bishop’s pastoral letter here.
  2. Check out Integrity Restored, a Catholic online resource for men addicted to porn.
  3. Check out xxxChurch.com, a Christian online resource for those addicted to porn and for men and women who desire to leave the industry. This is a great article about the founder of the site and his unlikely friendship with Ron Jeremy, one of the world’s most famous porn stars.
  4. The archdiocese of Washington has a great list of resources for pornography addiction on their web site. The diocese of Wichita also has a lot of resources.
  5. Annie Lobert, runs Hookers for Jesus, an organization that supports sex workers who want to leave the industry as well as women and children who have been sex trafficked. In this moving video, she describes how she got caught up in prostitution and how she escaped.
This is only a drop in the bucket; if you know of more resources or further information, please add to the comments.
May your Lent continue to be blessed.
Don’t forget to pray, make sacrifices and work in response to the intentions of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message!

7 comments:

Teomatteo said...

Please, stop the reference to: porn star. Pornographer is adequate no?

Howard said...

This reminds me of what happened in 2008 when Erin Andrews, an attractive female sportscaster then with ESPN, was photographed nude in her hotel room without her knowledge by a stalker, Michael David Barrett. The photos were then posted online, which led to Barrett's arrest, (I can only conclude that he was not very bright!) As creepy as all that is, the thing that really astonished me is that more than one of her co-workers (I forget which ones exactly) at ESPN, who were working a radio call-in show, casually talked about having watched the video. There was no hint of shame and precisely no awareness of the work environment this must have created for her.

Andrews continued to work at ESPN until June 2012, when she moved to Fox Sports.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Sister. Sadly many apostate Christians advocate homosexual "marriage" becuase it is "adults who feel this way" and "Who am I to judge?" Well, using that logic, there is nothing wrong with adults viewing, purchasing or producing pornography because I assure you, they "feel" like doing it.We must cling to God and His Word. The only acceptable use of His gift of sex is between 1 man and 1 woman within Holy Matrimony. Cling to God and you will not go wrong. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

Peter says as a former porn addict with a continuing
underlying predisposition to look at such images,
Mea Culpa - I am reminded of a banner headline in
a porn magazine years ago. The heading above a
Page showing naked women ran: 'Girls from Hell
Who look like Heaven' Says it all really....

Anonymous said...

I guess we as a nation have arrived at the moment when many consciences have been seared and many people now have no "sense of sin" or temptation, as a few recent popes have remarked upon.So having sown the wind the U.S. is now reaping the whirlwind. I mean, just look who sits astride the most powerful position in the world, Barack H. Obama; his presence is a paradigm for what is askew on steroids with our culture and the nation. For he's totally oblivious to the consequences of all this amoral libertinism that now afflicts the U.S.; absolutely no concern for the innocent unborns and their aborting, who are the end consequence of this monstrous chain of evil. In fact both Obama and Hillary Clinton seem to revel in it, vis-a-vis their common veneration of Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood. And so moral sexual craziness would seem to prevail in the land of the free and home of the brave.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Sister, but you neglected to mention (probably because you didn't know) that this young woman was raised in a devout Catholic family and attended a Jesuit high school -- where, I imagine, there was a huge emphasis placed on social justice to the exclusion of natural law, catechism, etc.

Suzanne Carl said...

Why do these stories always end with the fact that the people who are defending their sinful behavior attended Catholic schools?