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Duke University Freshman Admits She's A Porn Star, Campus Loses Its Mind

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It didn't take long after word spread of a Duke University freshman's after-school job as a budding porn star before a witch hunt of sorts commenced to identify her.

The young actress, identified in articles as "Lauren," explained in an xoJane blog that after Christmas break, she noticed an increase in friend requests on Facebook from random male students, and wasn't sure what was to blame. Then she figured it out when a male Duke freshman followed her porn alter ego on Twitter.

I stood there shaking in disbelief and fear. I knew what was coming next: fear, humiliation, shame, threats, name calling. What I did not expect was that I would be brutally bullied and harassed online. I did not expect that every private detail about my life would be dissected. I did not expect that my intelligence and work ethic would be questioned and criticized. And I certainly did not expect that extremely personal information concerning my identity and whereabouts would be so carelessly transmitted through college gossip boards.

Lauren told the Duke Chronicle, a student newspaper, that she divulged her secret to an incoming fraternity brother, who quickly spread the word around his house (an indiscretion that the frat brother told the paper he now regrets). From that point, the student actress wrote in a Develle Dish blog, "I learned that I would likely be exposed soon on a frat website."

Lauren told the Chronicle she decided to come forward because "if people are going to talk about you, you might as well control the conversation and use it to start a dialogue." However, that interview, published earlier this month, has only caused news of her presence on campus to explode across the Internet.

The newspaper did attempt to protect the actress' identity by not only providing her the pseudonym "Lauren," but also by changing her stage name to "Aurora." But that wasn't enough to prevent people from identifying her and some of her films. After the publication of the Chronicle's article, Lauren said she has been subject to constant online harassment and bullying from complete strangers, similar to what she was already experiencing prior to the article.

Lauren told Coed that the Chronicle "misquoted me and made me look like a dumb attention-seeking bimbo." She also elaborated on some of the inconsistencies in her own blog post.

Although she still isn't revealing her true identity to the world, the student remains defiant against those who would criticize her choice to do porn. She writes in her xoJane blog that she views pornography as her "artistic outlet":

I can say definitively that I have never felt more empowered or happy doing anything else. In a world where women are so often robbed of their choice, I am completely in control of my sexuality. As a bisexual woman with many sexual quirks, I feel completely accepted. It is freeing, it is empowering, it is wonderful, it is how the world should be.
...
I am not ashamed of porn. On the contrary, doing pornography fulfills me. That said, I vehemently want to have my privacy respected -- and I ask that anyone who knows my real name respect the fact that I am only discussing this publicly because it was made a public matter when I was confronted by a fraternity member who chose to tell hundreds of other men in the Greek scene.

Lauren goes on at xoJane to lay out her frustrations with the way American society views sexuality, her concerns about the abuse of sex workers, and misconceptions about porn, which she believes has driven the criticism she's faced as an adult film actress.

Doing porn, Lauren explained to Fusion, was a choice she made to avoid leaving college with six figures of student loan debt, and to avoid putting financial pressure on her parents to pay her tuition bills.

"I saw a way to graduate from my dream school with no debt, doing something that makes me feel really happy and doing something that I love, and I took it," she said.

While some in the community have disapproved of pornography as a vocation, others have noted that the opportunity to use adult films as a means to pay for her tuition is not one that's open to everyone.

One anonymous writer on the Duke blog Develle Dish complained how young, thin white women "dominate porn production," which she argued influences societal perceptions of beauty. "You are not to blame," the writer said to Lauren, "it is the fault of the porn industry which you promote."

Duke sophomore Danica Liu made a similar point about race in a Chronicle op-ed: "I have been lucky enough to receive financial aid so I can attend Duke, but if I had not, the same sex work opportunities available to you would not have been available to me as an Asian woman."

The campus' harsh response to news of a porn star on campus adds to a reputation of sexual hostility that Duke has tried to shed. The lacrosse scandal "still looms over campus," as Duke junior Ellie Schaack notes, even as the men involved in that incident today walk free, legally innocent (the woman who falsely accused them was recently found guilty in connection with the murder of her boyfriend). Meanwhile, Duke has been praised by advocates for victims of sexual assault for toughening its policies for dealing with rapists.

However, Duke is not alone in having a strong response to the presence of a porn actress. Rumors swirled about a reported porn actress at Louisiana State University, and Melissa King lost her crown as Miss Delaware after it was revealed she had appeared in an adult film. King is now a student at the University of Arkansas and appears to have a decent sense of humor about her past.

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