Belle Knox is the screen name of an unnamed American Duke University student who became the subject of online harassment when it was revealed that she had performed in online pornography in order to help pay for her tuition at the school.
Knox is currently pursuing a major in women’s studies and sociology and has expressed interest in becoming a women’s rights or civil rights lawyer after completing her education.
Knox chose the name “Belle” from Belle from Beauty and the Beast and the character of Belle from Secret Diary of a Call Girl, and the name “Knox” from Amanda Knox. She decided to go into online pornography because she enjoyed sex and pornography, but also because she had previously worked as a waitress and received less than $400 a month, whereas she could make about $1200 per scene doing pornography. Knox had tried to apply for government loans but was told that she was ineligible, and did not want to apply for regular student loans as she did not want to “strap her family with debt”.
Knox’s harassment began after a male Duke student recognized her from her online videos and revealed her identity to his fraternity brothers during a rush event. Knox, who had been away on Christmas break, arrived back on campus and discovered that she had received several new Facebook friend requests. She did not initially think anything of the requests until a fellow student had followed her on her online persona’s Twitter account, at which point she realized that her online career had been discovered. Shortly thereafter posts began to emerge on the anonymous college discussion board CollegiateACB under the thread title “Freshman Pornstar”. Knox received threats of violence and death as well as harassing messages through via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, with several individuals endorsing people raping or beating her. Other posters also stated that they would like Duke University to expel Knox for her online activities. Knox’s personal information, which included her true identity, contact information, and location, was posted as well.
Knox gave an interview to The Chronicle, where she initially identified herself as “Lauren” and stated that her performing name was “Aurora”. During the interview Knox expressed frustration over her treatment and stated that “I feel like girls at Duke have to hide their sexuality. We’re caught in this virgin-whore dichotomy”. She later posted similar sentiments in a blog posts on XoJane. Knox later reported that she received an additional spike in harassment after posting her initial blog post through XoJane, which prompted her to release a second post where she revealed her pornography screen name. She detailed some of the threats and messages she had received and commented that when reporting them to the police, expressed that she believed that the police had not taken them seriously enough.