Durham News: Opinion

Wilson: Duke porn star can’t have it both ways

Really, not even Charlotte Simmons, the naïve young woman in Tom Wolfe’s 2004 novel about the hook-up culture at a tony private school that could be Duke University, went this far. But life often trumps fiction, and thus the outing of a freshman paying her way at Duke as … a porn star.

Lauren A would be unknown except for a male student who smoked out her identity and told his fraternity brothers. That’s when the roof fell in, as Lauren A tells it.

Awash in political correctness, Duke itself has said nothing about Lauren A’s avocation. If you want to earn $58,000 a year for by renting your body to pay tuition, well, that’s your choice. One must not be judgmental in matters of morality.

Except that people are judgmental, and 18-year-old Lauren A’s peers are agog at the porn star in their midst.

Undergraduate males regard her as a living fantasy. Others, mostly radical feminists, say she has betrayed the cause by working in an industry that objectifies women as sex toys.

Last week, Lauren A defended herself in a feisty manifesto replete with so many contradictions that you have to wonder if she is two personalities in one body.

She professes to love Duke. She says she had a spiritual moment in her first visit to Duke Chapel, that being at Duke is a dream come true.

A nominal Republican adrift in a sea of Democrats at Duke, she wants to become a civil and women’s rights lawyer to help protect exploited “sex workers.” Yet she willingly embraced the Los Angeles porn industry, the bete noir of the feminist movement. Feminists revile porn, saying it reduces women to sexual pawns in a male-dominated culture.

Lauren A has no qualms about her lucrative work, which she says “brings me unimaginable joy.” Indeed, rough-sex pornography for bisexual Lauren A has the aura of a religious experience: “It is my artistic outlet, my love, my happiness, my home.”

Meanwhile, between bouts of unimaginable joy, Laura A disdains a sex-drenched, patriarchal society at the university she professes to love.

She dismisses Duke men for harboring a “sense of entitlement over women’s bodies and women’s sex … because they are used to getting everything they’ve ever wanted.”

This is not the world-class Duke you see in the slick brochures and websites, not the Duke that basks in its reputation as one of the best universities in the nation, if not the world.

It certainly isn’t the Duke that I’ve known for more than 40 years.

No, for Lauren A her dream university is a collage of intense academics with “a social scene that’s rooted in social hierarchy and wealth” fed by “male privilege and chauvinism and misogyny” that has produced ‘this really horrible rape culture.”

To this I might add Lauren A’s hypocrisy. She glories in rough-sex pornography that would give Aunt Tillie the vapors, yet she decries a “rape culture” at Duke.

There’s a disconnect here, and I suspect the consequences for Lauren A will be far more devastating than she admits. Like a fingerprint, appearing in porn films stays with you for life.

Of course, Lauren A doesn’t see herself as a prostitute. No, she’s just a modest young woman working her way through Duke.

In her, you can read the descent of an entire society into amorality. As the restaurant ads say, no rules, just right.