Consider circumstances before judging student porn star

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By Matt Pasquini

What would you do to receive a college education?

Many students apply for scholarships, participate in work-study programs, find part-time jobs or take out loans so they can afford to attend college.

One Duke University student decided to start modeling in the porn industry. 

A freshman, who goes by the pseudonym, Lauren, recently wrote about her experiences of people finding out that she’s a porn star. She talked about how this job has enabled her to fulfill her dreams and attend an institution that costs nearly $60,000 per year.

At first glance, it’s easy to look at Lauren’s story as unique to her. But in more ways than one, Lauren’s story is one that many college students can relate with. College is expensive, and we all want to be able to attend and we’re all looking for the means in which to pay our way through.

Our society has come to highly value the college education because it opens the door to opportunities we wouldn’t have otherwise. Even more, not only is it a time to learn what’s in our textbooks, but a time to learn about ourselves and the world around us.

It prepares us for the real world.

With that being said, the continually rising cost of college is becoming a barrier to obtaining a college education and reaping the benefits that come with that education. In the United States, many students will attend college despite limited financial resources and graduate with, on average, $29,400 of debt in student loans. Others might see college as a huge financial burden and bypass it all together.

Lauren ensured that she would not experience either of those outcomes and enabled herself to do something very few students can do — pay for college all on her own.

She started working in the adult film industry and would fly out to Los Angeles during her breaks from school to film. Her travel expenses were paid for by her agent, Matrix Models. While Lauren doesn’t disclose how much she gets paid at any point, Mark Spiegler, one of the leading agents in the adult film industry, said that a female who shoots one heterosexual scene per day for one week every month can expect to earn about $84,000 per year.

That’s a lot of money for a little amount of time. More importantly, that is the money that’s used to fund her college education.

But things took a turn for the worse when her identity as an actress in the adult film industry was revealed.

The self-identified women’s studies and sociology double major and libertarian has been thrown into the spotlight and has been the talk of campus. Since then, the campus environment has been a volatile one as Lauren has been harassed for choosing to work in the adult film industry to pay for college.

A message board, Collegiate ACB, has a forum in reference to Lauren named, “Freshman Pornstar,” and it starts by saying, “If you banged her, report in.”

After reading a few pages of comments, I came across a couple of disturbing posts:

“I’ll definitely f**k you. Lets do it. I’ll pay your tuition.”

“I’d rather have my dignity and loans than work as a prostitute. I’m sure daddy is proud.”

There is a paradox in this controversy because on one hand, she is seizing opportunities. She’s paying her own way through college, which is respectable on so many levels — something you don’t see from many students anymore — but her means of doing it brings about unfortunate and unintended consequences.

Lauren has a phenomenal understanding of her own intentions which can be seen in a piece she published where she describes her own accounts of being outed as a porn star.

“As for my professional career, I have no current plans to quit porn, and I refuse to let ignorant people deprive me of the education that I have worked incredibly hard to achieve. I am going to graduate, I am going to pursue my dreams and I will hopefully galvanize change in a world wrought with gender norms and sexism.”

She’s educated. She’s well informed. She’s ambitious. Sure, she’s a porn star, but that doesn’t mean anything. We can’t use stigmas to form our own realities. The level of comfort she has with her sexuality is rare, arguably admirable, and she’s using it to empower herself and as a platform to pursue her dreams.

Connect her experiences with yours. Here at the University, the cost of college is skyrocketing. What would you do if you longed to obtain a college education but didn’t have the resources?

I’m not suggesting you’d start filming pornography, but some people go to great lengths to achieve their dreams.

Matt is a sophomore in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MatthewPasquini.