Mia Khalifa: The Porn Star You Know, The Activist You Don’t

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Mia Khalia is a name which Indians know within the precincts of their bedrooms but not beyond that. Once they step out of the house, they don’t know her anymore. Beyond that, she is a woman who apparently lost shame because she is associated with porn. Mia Khalifa was the topmost searched pornstar in 2016 and the second-most in 2017. However, not many people know about her life as an activist and how she is fighting with her former employer and porn giant Bang Bros. We still identify her with her brief involvement in the porn industry, this is what her whole existence has been reduced to. This shows how we, as a society, have been acing the game of hypocrisy. This really does break my heart.

The porn industry makes millions of dollars every year but not the ones who are performing in it. Have we ever wondered how much the porn actors are being paid? While watching a porn video, have we ever thought whether the whole thing was consensual or not?

Mia began getting popular after a porn video of her was released wearing a hijab, Khalifa has filed a petition against Bang Bros to remove all her porn videos from the website. The petition has received more than 1 million signatures but we still cannot see her beyond her nudity. Mia Khalifa has been speaking about the sexual abuse and exploitation she has faced as a 21-year-old in the industry. She has been fighting for the rights of porn actors and her own dignity. A terrorist organisation has placed a bounty on her head because of her hijab video but do we really care about her as long as we can see her nude?

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She talks with gory details about how once the Bang Bros executive Jordan Sibbs pawned her into a photoshoot saying that it was for Vogue. She was not paid for that shoot, had no idea what it would be used for. Mia was told that the shoot was for Vogue but later her pictures were used for the Bang Bros website. “I was too young to realize at the time, but these men, all of them, collectively and consciously chose to deceive me. Jordan Sibbs, the Photographer, other executives at Bang Bros, are all complicit. And I know for a fact they are because…weeks later, those photos ended up being used on the website BangBros created under my name, which I owned the domain for before they, again, deceived me into selling to them for $1.”

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That is still not where the humiliation ends. After the shoot got over, Khalifa was sexually abused by one of the men involved. She was asked to take her hijab and underwear off and pose against the wall. “When I wasn’t posing to his liking, he would physically correct me and contort my body until he was satisfied. I wanted to scream and cry and to claw his face off with my bare hands all at the same time. The worst part of it was when he moved his hands over my breasts telling me how nice they were. I still feel the cold metal from his rings in a shiver down my spine.”

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Recently, after the Beirut blasts, Mia spoke about the situation in Lebanon and began raising funds for it. She has been working with Lebanese Red Cross to look after the damage inflicted by the blasts. She also auctioned the glasses she used to wear in her videos for the same which in turn is symbolic of her efforts to dissociate her name with the industry. None of her struggle and activism has been highlighted by the media. We still identify her with exactly what she does not want us to remember with. Even one google search would lead you to her porn videos and nothing else. This is exactly what she is fighting for and this is exactly what we are not giving her!

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