“While Weeks maintains that everything that happened at the shoot was consensual, it was not the best experience. “They try to figure out what makes you tick and fuck with you. I remember getting naked, and the guy said, ‘You have cuts on your legs. You’re a cutter.’ He could tell I had written the word ‘fat’ in my thigh, so he started calling me fat.” Once they called “action,” she was pushed to the ground and slapped. “And I said, ‘Stop, stop, stop. No, no.’ And then they stopped, and they were like, ‘We have to keep going.’
"And I was like, ‘Just please don’t hit me so hard.’ But it went on like that, me getting hit, pushed, spit on. I was being told I was fat, that I was a terrible feminist, was going to fail all my classes, was stupid, dumb, a slut. But I got through it. You know how you kind of zone out sometimes? I just disassociated.” It wasn’t until she got back to Duke that she felt the weight of it all. “I remember just being a wreck, like, ‘Oh, my God, what have I done? This is the most embarrassing thing ever. What if somebody finds it?’”
-Excerpt from Rolling Stone interview with Miriam Weeks (aka Belle Knox)
Reading Miriam Weeks’s story makes me so upset and angry. What is more frustrating is how much she and many others insist that this type of behavior is acceptable. Abuse is considered an occupational hazard. But I want to talk about a simple thing that we all can do to take steps towards some transparency in the porn industry. We see stories like this from survivors all the time. It’s time to call this what it is: sex trafficking.
The Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines sex-trafficking as: The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act where such an act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.
That being said, it’s time to hold the industry accountable:
- When a performer tells the other performers to stop, and they keep going, she is a victim of sex-trafficking (and rape of course)
- When a performer is given a dishonest or inaccurate description of a scene ahead of time, and then coerced into performing it, she is a victim of sex-trafficking.
- When a producer/directer blackmails or threatens a performer when she doesn’t want to do something, she is a victim of sex trafficking
Consent is all or nothing. It is either fully informed and freely given or it is nonexistent. The porn industry is ridden with trafficking, blackmail, rape, abuse, fraud, and drug use. Call these crimes what they are. Women who have these experiences are victims. Many try to say that they like it or that they feel empowered, because like anyone else in traumatic situations, many people go into survival mode. Their stories should be treated with empathy and respect, but we also need to recognize that this type of behavior must not be accepted.
At the very least, there needs to be more transparency:
- The actors should know exactly, down to the last detail, what the scene will consist of.
- There should be no drugs involved.
- The actor should be able to decide at any moment that she does not want to start/continue the scene.
- There should not even be a hint of any consequences should a performer decide she does not want to do something.
- No performer, at any time, should ever fear scared to say no because they are scared of physical retaliation.
Pro-porners like to say that porn is fine, because it’s just consenting adults…but how many people do you think actually have the experience listed above? How many performers give their full consent?
Link to Rolling Stone article