*Disclaimer: This post concerns adult material that some readers may not agree with. Reader discretion is advised*
Sex is a natural human occurrence. But when people perform sexual deeds on camera, that’s when opinions start flying. At Duke University a first year student is paying her way through college by acting as an adult film actress. Now whatever opinions any reader has, it’s great that you have them, let’s just keep them at bay. What I want to talk about, is the language targeted at this student.
In this case, I’ll follow the example of the Duke Chronicle and call the student Lauren and call her actress alter ego Aurora, in order to conceal any identities she may not want to reveal.
Lauren wrote an editorial blog post about her mistreatment due to her job as an adult film actress. She talks about being called a slut, prostitute, and someone who supports rape fantasies. She explains that the nature of the sex she performs is rough in nature, but is in no way a rape fantasy.
Now let’s go back to this whole name-calling business. She talks about how she feels empowered and free with her sexuality. She says that she enjoys what she does and does not regret her decision in becoming an adult film actress. She mentions that she has been antagonized and bullied on the web. She’s been called a slut, whore, and any other explicit remark you can think of. Interesting enough though is how much this applies to chapter five of Julia Wood’s book Gendered Lives.
In her book, Wood describes specific stereotypes associated with men and women. For men, they’re typically perceived as someone who is “rational and strong.” Whereas women are typically perceived to be weak, submissive, and emotional. Wood also points out how language towards women’s actions are passive in nature. For example, in a recent Collegiate ACB thread one commenter stated, “So being choked, spit on and degraded is now empowering? Feminist Logic.” They’re assuming that she is the one being treated poorly and that the actions she performs are passive in nature. She argues that she is in full control of the situation when she performs, but the way our language and perceptions of gender roles are set up, everything she commits is conducted passively on her.
Wood also mentions in her book that women who are typically more expressive with their sexuality, tend to be labeled as prostitutes, ungrateful, sluts, etc. Whereas males are labeled as studs, champions, and receive support for being such. What if it were a male doing the same thing and acting as an adult film actor? Would he have gotten so much backlash? Would he have been called a slut, whore, etc? Well coincidentally there was another event that occurred that was similar to this one, but with a male.
There was another story where a student from a high school was reportedly expelled and told that he would not be able to graduate due to his performance with a gay adult film company. Although he had his fair share of opponents and antagonists, the majority of the community reached out to him in support and even rallied for him. He was later invited back to the school and was told that he was not “suspended” for his performance with an adult studio.
As far as I could see there was no banter for the male who performed in pornographic films against him. All I saw were the pictures with “#supportrobert” and his news stories about his particular case. However if you look up the Duke University college freshman, majority of what you see are confidential interviews with the student and opinionated blogs/posts about her “promiscuity,” calling her a multitude of things I dare not repeat.
Language is incredibly important in the way we communicate. Heck, without language we wouldn’t be able to communicate in the first place. It’s just very odd to see the language people use to describe others based on their gender. Now, I acknowledge that I might not have an insider’s perspective from either of these cases, but from the outside looking in, it’s very interesting, and very puzzling.