SYNDICATED COLUMN: No College, No Job. College is Expensive. Is It Any Wonder Students Turn to Porn?

http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/blogs/xx_factor/2014/Duke_porn.jpg.CROP.promo-medium2.jpg

Everybody’s talking about — scratch that. Culture is too atomized for everybody to be talking about anything.

Lots of people who don’t usually cop to knowing about, much less watching, porn — writers at high-end intellectual magazines, columnists for The Washington Post — are talking about Belle Knox, the Duke University freshman who embraced her outing as an adult film actress in an eloquent, feminist theory-imbued attack against slut-shaming.

Social media has responded as you’d expect: lots of mean slut-shaming that proves Knox’s point that “We deem to keep women in a place where they are subjected to male sexuality. We seek to rob them of their choice and of their autonomy. We want to oppress them and keep them dependent on the patriarchy.”

Tabloids and gossip sites are reveling in their usual witches’ brew of judginess and salacious intrigue.

Big corporate media is reacting like George C. Scott finding out his daughter is a whore. Considering that the average age of a journalist is Old Enough to Be Knox’s Mom or Dad, knee-jerk Talibanality comes as little surprise, though quite unpleasant to watch.

About that Post columnist:

Ruth Marcus, Old Enough to Be Knox’s Grandma and apparently a freelance psychologist, calls Knox a “troubled young woman.”

If Marcus hates the sin and not the sinner, it’s hard to tell. Her column drips with condescension and contempt.

“Methinks the freshman doth protest too much,” writes Marcus. Because, you know, like, 18 years old is mature enough to decide which Arabs to shoot, but not to have sex for money.

“Even more heartbreaking is listening to Knox’s still little-girlish voice describing how she’ll tell her parents. ‘I don’t want to,’ she told the Duke Chronicle last month, in the whiny tone of a child told to go to bed.”

Charming.

Marcus goes on. Who could stop her? “She mentioned rough sex, which requires an unpleasant discussion of what kind of pornography we’re talking about here and the increasingly violent nature of the Internet-fueled pornography trade. These are not your father’s Playboys. Letting a man ejaculate on your face is not empowering under anyone’s definition of the term. It’s debasing.”

Two things.

One: bukkake predates the Internet. If Marcus doesn’t know that, or how to Google, she should have spoken to or been edited by someone who does.

Two: what’s sexy and what’s empowering are purely subjective. Knox describes feeling “fear, humiliation, shame” — not from her work, but from neo-Puritan assholes on the Internet giving her a hard time. “Doing pornography fulfills me,” she writes.

Part of respecting women — of being a feminist — is taking them at their word. Thus, in the absence of evidence that Knox is lying or insane, I choose to believe her.

So. Why did Knox become a sex worker? Her answer: “If Duke had given me the proper financial resources, I wouldn’t have done porn. My story is a testament to how fucking expensive school is.”

Media gatekeepers are ignoring it, but this is the real/big story.

Each year in the United States, 12 million freshmen take out student loans. By the time they graduate (or not), they wind up owing $26,000 — plus several times that amount in compound interest payments. In many cities, that’s more than the cost of a house.

Duke University charges Belle Knox $61,000 a year in tuition, room and board. I don’t care how many hours she could have put in at Starbucks; the only way a typical college kid can generate $250,000 in cash over four years is to think outside the box.

Knox isn’t alone. Many college students work as prostitutes.

When I attended Columbia University, I met many students who cut moral and legal corners to make their bursar bills.

I knew students who were call girls, including one who brought her clients to her dorm room to save on hotel rooms. Topless and nude dancers weren’t rare at Columbia. A close friend took advantage of his room’s southern exposure to grow pot plants; he sold his stash out of a deserted Butler Library stack full of 17th century Italian folios. Another pal was banking six figures as a cocaine dealer (it was the ’80s.)

I discovered that one of my classmates was sleeping in the park. There was nothing left after he paid tuition.

One of my buddies, now a minor success in Silicon Valley, had a unique racket. He climbed outside locked campus buildings using grappling hooks. Yes, like a ninja. He entered the chemistry and physics department storerooms through the windows. He then sold the chemicals — including radioactive stuff — to an oily man who worked at the mid-Manhattan consulate of a nation that did not get along with the U.S.

I won’t mention the guy who sold his poo in the Village.

Reagan slashed student financial aid during my freshman year. To pay my way sophomore year, I broke laws.

If I knew then what I know, I wouldn’t have done it. Going into debt or risking jail to pay exorbitant tuition at an “elite” school like Duke or Columbia is insane. You can get an excellent education at any number of cheaper, no-name schools. You can save tens of thousands of dollars by attending a community college for two years, then transferring for junior year; the name on the diploma is what matters.

But that’s the point. I was 18. Like Knox. There’s a reason the military recruits 17- and 18-year-olds. They don’t know anything. I still can’t believe when my mom drove me to the bank to sign the student loan agreement. I was 17. Seriously? I couldn’t vote or drink.

I thought Manhattan was Long Island.

Americans hear a drumbeat of “unless you attend college, your life will suck” propaganda the first 18 years of their lives. Their parents say it. Their teachers say it. Their guidance counselors and the media say it. The college/university industry spends millions to advertise the message that the more you spend on tuition, the more you’ll earn during your lifetime.

The President says it too.

Everyone says college is a must and that expensive college is better than cheap college. Of course Belle Knox and young Ted Rall and 20 million new suckers every year believe it.

Ruth Marcus concludes: “Knox’s pathetic story wouldn’t be worth examining — exploiting? — if it didn’t say something deeper about the hook-up culture run amok and the demise of shame.”

Wrong.

Belle Knox has nothing to be ashamed of.

The real sluts are the cash-whore trustees of Duke University, who are sitting on top of a $6 billion endowment, and the overpaid college and university officials who have jacked up tuition at twice the inflation rate year after year.

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21 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: No College, No Job. College is Expensive. Is It Any Wonder Students Turn to Porn?

      • I see that level of hypocrisy every day, otherwise I would find it hard to believe.

        Astounding, just astounding. We can only hope that the publicity will reflect badly on HIS career.

    • @ CrazyH –
      Here’s my favorite part of the 2nd article:
      “For someone who subscribes to a site like Facial Abuse I want to commend you for spending the $200 a week your parents send you every week for living expenses wisely,” Kulich sarcastically wrote. “I want to also commend you on getting accepted into Duke. Great school! I am sure your parents are proud…You are the type of guy that makes our business move.”

      • I read a really great editorial by Bob Guccine (Penthouse) on the subject of ‘exploitation’

        The gist of it was that the girls are all volunteers, when Playboy holds a casting call, the line goes around the block. The girls get five, six or even seven figures for a few days of posing at most. The men, on the other hand, are shelling out their hard-earned money because of hormonal urges over which they have no control.

        Who’s being exploited here?

        DISCLAIMER: yes, there are people getting exploited in the porn industry. They’re just a lot rarer than the thumpers would have you believe. Why bother holding a gun to someone’s head when there are so many volunteers out there?

    • Proof of assertion, re: women can’t win: I recall, just a few months ago, a story about the 18-year-old man who did porn to help his mom pay some bills. I do not recall that story having anything even remotely like this amount of coverage.

  1. So, hey Ted, what was the illegal thing you did? Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. 😉

    I’ll go first: I used my student loans and Pell Grants to buy pot, sold it, and then used the profits to pay my tuition – along with the room and board that the other bits didn’t cover.

    It was a dumb idea from the standpoint of what I could have done to my ‘permanent record.’ I could have wound up dead when someone wanted more of my goods than they could afford. But I didn’t see anything *morally* wrong with it then, and I still don’t today, excepting that I should have limited it to individuals over twenty-one only.

    I did, however, get some real-world experience in business, ethics, economics, and “don’t buy from that creepy guy you just met in the back alley”

    btw, the Statute of Limitations ran out long, long, ago.

  2. “Part of respecting women — of being a feminist — is taking them at their word. Thus, in the absence of evidence that Knox is lying or insane, I choose to believe her.”

    The problem with this logic, which is somewhat reasonable, is that it doesn’t take into account the woman’s age. I have zero qualms about stating this: When you are eighteen years old, you don’t know shit about yourself, the world around you, or your place in it. You just don’t. Of course, you THINK you do — but you don’t. If you are fortunate enough to live to middle age, you will realize this is true, unless you’re one-dimensional or just dense to begin with.

    Knox is making decision now that will affect her in ways that she simply cannot comprehend yet. And blaming those results (which will come to pass for her) on a prudish society, an unjust society, a judgmental society — is a waste of time. Those things may or may not be true, but one thing is absolutely certain: Choices have consequences.

    Knox is making claims about how she’s going to change the world. Frankly, it sounds like she has a bad relationship with her parents, blaming them for enforcing prudishness on her early in life. Of course, she was five years old when they did this — wouldn’t any parent? Is Knox now rebelling? Who knows. But — Knox doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. I’d wager $10,000 dollars that Knox will never become a lawyer, like she says she wants to be. She doesn’t know it yet, but her future is porn. Just do some research and you’ll see, that is an industry that is analogous to quicksand. Tough to get out of it once you’re in. Not impossible, but tough.

    • “Choices have consequences”

      Yes, yes they do. I always find it funny the way conservatives conflate the natural consequences of an action with the artificial consequences they, themselves, created.

      All of your examples above are just that. Why is it difficult to get out of porn? Because the NPAH’s have convinced people that sex is dirty. Why might it be difficult for Knox to become a lawyer? Because the NPAH’s have labelled her as damaged goods. How would her future employers find out about her private life anyway? Because of the NPAH who outed her and the RW media who made a BFD about it.

      Note that the NPAH who outed her was a CONSUMER of porn. That kind of hypocrisy is another symptom of the same disease. If doing porn is evil, wicked, mean, and nasty; then watching it is likewise e, w, m, & n. Can’t have any males polishing the ol’ bishop without the females acting. (funny how the male actors don’t catch anywhere near as much flack as the females, isn’t it?)

      “And blaming those results on a prudish society, an unjust society, a judgmental society — is …”

      Spot on as I just demonstrated above. This is yet another example of the wonderfully-flexible RW version of ‘personal responsibility’ – to wit, it’s always someone else’s responsibility. “It’s not my fault they died, your honor – all I did was set fire to the building. It’s their own damn fault for living there in the first place.”

      • You’re really deranged and somewhat delusional. I would respond but you clearly cannot read, nor process what someone writes in any meaningful way. You’ve got a black/white view of the world around you and everyone fits into it accordingly. Black or white. Bizarre.

      • WHAhahahahaha. Best laugh I’ve had all week.

        Typical Right Wing poster – poke a few holes in your argument and instead of even attempting to defend your position, you throw a hissy fit. I win by forfeit.

        > You’re really deranged and somewhat delusional.

        No, I’m not I’m … (wait for it) … CRAZY!

        Should you wish to dig yourself in deeper by replying (in any meaningful way) please provide examples of “Cannot read”, “Cannot process” and “black/white view of the world”

    • ” Frankly, it sounds like she has a bad relationship with her parents, blaming them for enforcing prudishness on her early in life. Of course, she was five years old when they did this — wouldn’t any parent?”

      I don’t think you know enough about Knox’s parents, or her relationship with them, to know if this is true, Ex.

      • Hello, Susan.

        re “wouldn’t any parent?””

        I didn’t bother to address that particular bit of silliness, so thanks for giving me the opportunity.

        NO. Any *decent* and *loving* parent would never cripple their children like that. I tried to raise mine with the idea that bodies are perfectly normal things to have, a penis is no different than a finger, just another part of your body.

        For reasons of politeness, you don’t go waving it around in public – but that’s it. There’s nothing evil, shameful, or harmful about it whatsoever.

    • ” Just do some research and you’ll see, that is an industry that is analogous to quicksand. Tough to get out of it once you’re in. Not impossible, but tough.”

      Ridiculous. They HAVE to leave, either when they get too old or when people are tired of paying to see them. Sometimes they do other work in the porn industry, such as production, direction, or distribution. Or they go on to do other things, believe it or not.

      So many facts you like to pull out of your ass. Quite amazing.

  3. “Knox describes feeling “fear, humiliation, shame” — not from her work, but from neo-Puritan assholes on the Internet giving her a hard time. ”

    Bing-go!

    Shame is a learned response, it has to be taught. Ask any toddler who’s successfully extricated himself from his diapers and run into the front yard laughing.

    Time after time you see the neo-Puritan assholes doing the same thing. They shame a woman for her sexuality, or for her decision to put off having a child, call her a slut, whore, baby-killer, whatever. Then they turn around and sanctimoniously use the shame they themselves caused as “proof” that the activity is morally wrong.

    Those of us capable of counting to twenty with our shoes on see that behavior as proof that the new-Puritans are morally wrong.

  4. Maybe 20 years ago, when the costs started soaring, someone did a chart — which I would love to be able to find now — that attempted to calculate the point in time when obtaining a college degree would, purely on a cost-basis, not recoup your investment. As I recall, they pegged the date at 2010.

    Obviously, the college degree has come full circle. Back in 1920, someone who went to Harvard was rich. (Yes, I know, there were always a few outliers who were poor and smart. Doesn’t matter.) The people who went to Harvard all knew each other. They all went to the same social functions, all ate at the same clubs, all went to the same churches (never synagogues, or, gasp! mosques), all vacationed in the same places. They all knew who wasn’t “their kind.”

    In 2020, the college degree will be the same thing. A badge, a ticket to admission to the good seats. When you fill out the application, you’ll be asked where you went to school. Anything that isn’t an Ivy League will get you roundfiled. And even the Ivy League schools will be just the sign. The countersign will come when the person making the decisions calls up his friend from Harvard. “Do you know this John Smith, class of 2018? Ohmygod! He’s poor? Phew. I was almost gonna call him in and give him the job. Let me throw the resume away now, just to be safe.”

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