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Mia Khalifa and Society’s Problem with Porn

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Mia Khalifa and Societys Problem with Porn fb

“Miss Mia, it’s not about the origin of your roots, that can’t be associated with. It is the choice of your career that is not normal. I mean not only the middle east, but the American households too can’t accept this type of profession.”

-A commentator on Newsweek’s article about Mia Khalifa.

Mia Khalifa was recently ranked as the #1 pornstar on Pornhub after only a few months of filming videos.

pornhub mia khalifa

Mia also happens to be American-Lebanese. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Mia moved to America with her family in 2000. Mia lived as any normal American teenager would. She earned her B.A. in History from the University of Texas at El Paso and avidly watches football, specifically the Florida State Seminoles, the team for which she considers herself the “unofficial mascot.”

In 2014 she began working in porn at Pornhub.com. That universally seems to be the point where everyone agrees Mia stopped being “normal.” Normal people work normal jobs, like banking, business, retail, etc . . . anything besides sex work. Most people don’t even want their friends or family to know that they watch porn, let alone that they are making it. The connotation that porn is something to be shameful of is in direct opposition to the value of porn as an industry and as a cultural pastime. The porn industry is big business. 

According to NBC News, porn is a $97 billion global industry, with $10-12 billion of that revenue coming from the United States alone. According to Paint Bottle, 30% of all data transferred across the Internet is porn. YouPorn, one of the larger video porn sites, streams six times the bandwidth as Hulu. That is huge. In fact, more people search for porn sites than they do news sites, or pretty much anything else. There is a reason that people say “the internet was invented for porn.”

So it is still very odd to me that despite all the money and interest in this industry that people still consider it such a shameful thing to view and to participate in. Porn doesn’t account for 30% of data on the Internet for nothing. It’s as huge as it is because people want it. However, no one wants to admit that they want it.

When Mia Khalifa was pronounced the #1 porn star on Pornhub.com, she received a lot of attention, both good and bad. From many devout people, it was Khalifa’s willingness to film a porn video in a hijab and her various Lebanese tattoos that caused the most anger. Stateofmind13.com posted an angry article on Khalifa, saying, “There’s obviously something to be proud of about a Lebanese who takes a symbol of one of the country’s leading religions and desecrates it in the way that she did.” She also received threats over twitter for her work, including one stating her head will be cut off soon:

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mia khalifa tweet screenshot

Khalifa is certainly not the only woman participating in hijab porn. Salon.com points out that there a search for “hijab” on Pornhub turned up 19 pages of results while “Muslim” returned 26 pages. That’s for only one site alone. 

Many have pointed out that Khalifa received a lot of support in response to the death threats. Nasri Atallah, a British-Lebanese author, was one of the people to come forward in support of Khalifa (kind of). On his Facebook page, Atallah wrote:

The lack of appreciation of her success is odd given that the Lebanese are famous for latching onto the successes of anyone who has ever come close to a Cedar tree. We claim fourth generation Mexicans as our own just because they’re successful. Why aren’t we proud of this woman skyrocketing to the top of her chosen profession?

Atallah’s response seems thought out and supportive of the young Lebanese-American pornstar. That is, until a few paragraphs down when he follows up with: For the record, I don’t think we should be particularly proud of Mia Khalifa, we should just be indifferent.” 

The contradictory nature of Atallah’s posting is similar to what many of her “supporters” said about the young porn star. Mostly, the statements are along the lines of: “I don’t think she shouldn’t be receiving threats, but I also don’t support her professional choices.”  

Case in point, here are some reactions to postings about Mia Khalifa from Facebook:

facebook comment about mia khalifa porn star

facebook comment about mia khalifa porn star

facebook comment about mia khalifa porn star

We Don’t Have an Issue with Mia Khalifa, We Have an Issue With Porn

The threats made against Khalifa that caught national attention. However, it’s the public’s response that shows how deeply prejudiced we still are against porn stars, especially female ones. While many posted their “support” of Khalifa with passive aggressive undertones, many more outright criticized her for her decisions.

facebook comment about mia khalifa porn star

facebook comment about mia khalifa porn star

tweet about mia khalifa porn star

This shaming of a female porn star—one who openly expresses herself on social media—is just a further escalation of “slut-shaming” that has been deeply ingrained into our society. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian author and feminist, said in her TED Talk that “We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.” This statement, which has been included in Beyonce’s “Flawless” track, is true. We do not teach girls to openly express their sexuality. When they do, they are labelled as sluts. Think about all the “scandalous” news you have ever heard regarding porn. Did most of it involve women? Probably. There are the various “sex tapes” of celebrities, including Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, as well as the story of the Duke University porn star, or Britain’s new ban on specific porn acts, including fisting, full bondage, and female ejaculation. 

We our society needs to realize is that sexuality is not morality. Society has placed women into a lose/lose situation, where you are either a “prude” (and destined for the “crazy cat lady” life) for never having sex or you are a “slut” for having sex (sometimes, the sex isn’t even necessary. If someone even thinks you’ve had sex, then you’re a slut).

slut shaming photoset

This shaming of open sexuality (or “sluttiness”) of women happens from both men and women. Women shame each other, like in the picture above. Sites like ReturnofKings.com, a blog for “heterosexual, masculine men,” actually posts articles on how to determine whether a woman is a “slut” using arbitrary traits such as “big tits, hair colors, excessive body hair, or ‘slut face.'” These traits are used, according to them, to determine if you can bang a woman on a first date or not. The author of the article “24 Signs She’s a Slut” is a self-described “womanizer,” yet has no issues passing judgment on women who want to have sex.

A quick google search of “signs of a slut” revels this:

google search for signs of a slut
Image from Google

Almost every single one of these results is specifically about women. Similar to the fact that male porn stars don’t receive a lot of attention for their profession, being a “slut” is a decidedly female affliction. American society still expects women to be morally pure, and we see sexuality, especially female sexuality, as a shame to our morals.

There are certainly a lot of issues in the porn industry, such as the fetishization of lesbians and teenage girls and the concerning amount of “dubious consent” porn. Having a young Lebanese-American woman porn star is not one of them. Mia’s critics are not opposed to her because of issues in the industry, they are opposed to her “because she is a slut” or “shaming her family.” In other words, she dares to express her sexuality freely in her chosen profession.

If your problem with Mia is that she does porn, then you aren’t against porn, you are against female sexuality. It is hypocritical for men and women alike to lash out against Mia for being a “slut” or to shame her for her profession, when the porn industry is one of the world’s largest businesses. We buy and consume porn as a product, the same way we do music or TV. For Mia Khalifa to be regarded as one of the #1 porn stars is an accomplishment, not a damnation.

Resources

Mia Khalifa – Twitter

Washington Post – Mia Khalifa Death Threats

NewsWeek – Mia Khalifa Controversy

A Separate State of Mind

 

The controversy surrounding Mia Khalifa's job as a porn star exposes our society's conflicting views on porn and our discomfort with female sexuality.

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