One January day, an 18-year-old girl in her first year at Duke University checked Facebook to discover that more than 200 new friend requests had come in overnight, mostly from boys of about her age. “I was a bit flattered,” she later recalled. “Maybe I actually am pretty and nice and not awkward, I thought.”
Maybe. Maybe a secret conference regarding her niceness had just concluded in her favor. Or maybe Duke’s young bucks merely thought it would be funny to be Facebook friends with a porn star.
Between a Friday evening, when a boy who spotted her porn videos told of her exploits at the frat house, and the Saturday morning that followed, she had become a campus celebrity. Appearing on a rough-sex site called “Facial Abuse” is one way to make it, I mean start out with a bang, I mean climb the greasy pole, I mean . . .
Weeks, a product of a Jesuit school in Washington State, says she acted in ten or so videos, for which she was paid between $1,000 and $1,500 each. In addition to performing plain old sex, she was also filmed being choked, gagged, spat upon, and worse.
The kidlings these days are said to be savvy about matters technological, but it seems Miss Weeks didn’t quite think through the implications of starring in online porn. For instance, she thought that no one on campus would learn of her new career. Once her name started getting around Durham, she still thought she could conceal her identity from outsiders. Such as her parents. She did a defensive interview with the campus paper the Chronicle, published on Valentine’s Day for the romantic in all of us, using the pseudonym “Lauren.”
Then Weeks wrote an essay for the confessional site XOJane declaring her name was “Belle Knox.” She expressed amazement that her privacy had been violated and that boys were being hostile on online fora. “Her nose is bigger than her [breasts],” said one online analyst. Hurtful! But if you’d rather not attract such rudeness, maybe don’t have sex for money. No wait, sorry — that’s prostitution. That’s illegal. Weeks was merely having sex on camera for money, which is A-okay.
#page#Whence the devil in Miss Blue Devil? Weeks blamed college tuition. But she also admitted that she had been offered a full scholarship to Vanderbilt, the nation’s 17th-highest-ranked university according to U.S. News & World Report. Duke is seventh in the same survey. A wish to move up ten spots in the rankings can’t really be termed desperation. Nor is Weeks poor; her dad, Kevin, is an Army doctor (who just returned from a tour in Afghanistan to learn how his daughter was paying the bills). And the plea about being overwhelmed by costs may not hold up to scrutiny either: “She does not hesitate to show off to me her recently purchased iPad mini and array of designer handbags,” noted her first interviewer, for the Chronicle, who also mentioned that a giggling Weeks asked, “Do you think I’ll be on Ellen?”
Cut to: Weeks’s appearance on The View, where she recast herself as a feminist trailblazer, a kind of Susan XXX. Anthony. “For centuries,” she declared, “sex workers have been the untouchables of society and I’m done. I’m sick of it. I’m taking a stand against it.” “Right on!” replied Whoopi Goldberg.
Weeks also said, “In this backdrop of our society where women are so often robbed of their sexual autonomy and are subjected to sexual violence and this backdrop of, you know, misogyny against women, it’s incredibly freeing and liberating for me to have that choice to make decisions about my own body.”
Sure. American female sexuality is practically under Taliban control — Kevin Weeks could tell you about U.S.–Afghanistan similarities — and we can all agree that “misogyny against women” is an especially odious kind of misogyny. The talk of “choice” about “my body,” though, was especially droll. Weeks is making a plea for porn to be as sacrosanct as abortion among liberal women opinion-makers.
The good news is that there remains a coughing and trembly little creature left in our cultural Pandora’s box: shame. Despite concerted efforts to suffocate it — right on! — it’s still barely breathing. Shame is why Weeks begged her male friend not to tell anyone at the frat house about her porn videos, why she used pseudonyms, why she didn’t tell her parents, why she didn’t like being called a slut.
Weeks, who is majoring in women’s studies and has learned the “empowerment” rhetoric of that self-deluding tribe, is a confused little girl who took a shortcut to bling and, once figurative exposure followed the literal kind, realized privacy was no longer an option. So she leveraged her notoriety and is now selling it alongside her booty. Her adventures in porn are now permanently affixed to her and will adversely affect her career, friendship, and marriage prospects. She will never be able to find a husband — except the kind of husband who would marry a porn star.
The View co-host Sherri Shepherd reacted to Weeks’s blasé description of her porn career this way: “You’re a guest on our show so I don’t want to make you feel any kind of bad. It’s just for someone to say ‘I’ve been watching porn since I was twelve years old and it’s empowering,’ to me it sounds like you have something completely memorized that you’re saying.” Shepherd then delivered the applause line of the show: “My heart breaks, it does, when I hear this.” So let’s turn the “choice” rhetoric around. Let’s declare that, actually, this particular choice should not be available to a girl of 18. I propose the Miriam Weeks Protect Our Daughters from Sexual Exploitation Act. My bill would raise the age of consent for appearing in pornography to 21. Let the Democrats explain why someone who can’t be trusted with a beer should be allowed to irradiate her future by selling images of her nude body being subjected to sexual degradation.
–– Mr. Smith is a film critic for the New York Post.