We’re going to have to start calling it knoxing boots, because Belle Knox, aka Miriam Weeks, who is (now famously/infamously) paying her tuition at Duke University by working as a porn star, is making her media rounds. She’s appeared on everything from The View to Fox News, has conducted interviews with Vice, Elle, and moonlit as a columnist on fem-positive site XOJane.
The undergrad also inspired a reality TV series (soon she’ll be hosting a new web-based reality show called The Sex Factor), and for now, at least, it seems she’ll have no problem cashing those checks to pay Duke’s yearly $61,404 tuition. Last reported she makes between 1,000-1,500 bucks a movie.
Knox’s story spread quickly. Her ability to articulate the ins and outs, and ups and downs of the porn industry, as well as her desire to be a civil rights lawyer for women, set her up to be a media darling– of sorts. Her treatment on The View was appalling (solve for: despicable, uniformed, and hypocritical). Playboy veteran Jenny McCarthy asked Week’s what made a “sweet, little, innocent girl,” turn to porn. Sherri Shepherd told Week’s that her story made her “heart break.”
But time and again, Weeks proves her ability to turn potentially threatening, bullying and awkward situations (she was “outed” by one her Duke’s fellows) into ones that work to her advantage– which in many ways mirrors her start: on her first job she felt awkward in the presence of the older cameraman, but then wound up enjoying herself, feeling exhilarated and liberated.
If we are ever to have a pornacracy, Belle Knox might be the girl to lead the revolution. Forget burning bras, just take ’em off (if, that’s what makes you feel good).
Which is, apparently, what Knox has inspired the next-gen of New York co-eds to do.
Since the word got out (via press release) that Belle Knox will be performing at the Show Palace in Queens, NY on May 2nd, (the only non-alcoholic, all-nude clubs that admits 18- to 21-year-old customers, and hires under-21 dancers the club on May 2nd), the club has been flooded with applications from would-be teen strippers.
Before Knox, according to Palace club manager Mike Diaz only about about 20 percent of the club’s dancers were college students. “Now, it’s about 50 percent,” said Diaz. “We’ve hired 30 or 40 new girls.”
Based on the club’s reporting, Baruch and Brooklyn Colleges are providing the best pole dancers. The biggest number of rejected applicants have come from Queens College and NYU. “They’re not so good-looking. I don’t know why,” Diaz said. “So far, none have met our standards.”
None from Columbia. And not one applicant from the Ivies. “For girls under 21, this is a chance to make some big money, $500 to $1,000 a night,” Diaz explained.
While Week’s has made it perfectly clear she’s empowered by her profession, explaining in an essay to XOJane.com: “We as performers have rights to express ourselves and as long as everything is consensual and legal, then more power to everyone involved,” and has likewise expressed her desire to decriminalize prostitution and give sex workers equal protection under the law, there is a dichotomy at play here: namely, Diaz, and the misogynistic undertones of his statements and Week’s collaboration with the club.
Without jumping on the gotcha-feminism bangwagon, it is one thing for a girl to own her sexuality– whatever that may mean to her. For Knox, sometimes this means kink. It means openly discussing her sexuality on multiple media platforms. She does not shy away from expressing her delight in her industry, or her enjoyment of rough sex. On the other, while stripping or pornography certainly make for easier cash than a minimum wage job, Diaz here, as the patriarchal figure-head, judging women and espousing a less than sex positive attitude, doesn’t appear a proponent of feminism.
While feminism is a fluid dogma (no, that’s not an oxymoron)– aspects of The Cause can be questioned, even doubted, and adjusted over time, it can’t be misogynistic, and it can’t align itself with a strip club using its good name for marketing purposes.
This a blurry line Knox will have to straddle as she continues her career. How does one work with men, who (at least on paper), seem perfectly happy with homogenized gender roles, and the subjugation of (very young) women, and stay true to the belief that she is in charge? In the porn sphere, she calls the shots. What she’s comfortable with, what she’s not.
Porn is one of the industries (like modeling) where female players are, in most cases, paid more than the males. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with Weeks staying in the public spotlight to promote her work and her ideals so that she can minimize her student loans, we’re not sure the Show Palace is the right venue to put her jewels on display.