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Mia Khalifa, The Activist No One Is Talking About

Mia Khalifa activist

Whenever I bring up Mia Khalifa in India, I see eyes rolled at me for taking a name which is associated with obscenity. Often, my intention is to talk about her activism and I find myself silenced because people assume that Mia Khalifa only means porn. Mia is the woman who Indians watch from their private bedrooms and bathrooms but act like they don’t know her when someone else brings her up. Most Indians are unaware that Mia Khalifa launched a petition against BangBros, the producer of her porn films, to take off all her porn videos from their websites. Indians continue watching Mia’s videos on porn sites without being aware that she is putting up a fight to get her videos removed from the internet. She has spoken against abuse and slut-shaming in the porn industry and has recently turned into an icon for women’s rights among people who follow her for more than her nudity.

Mia had launched a petition against BangBros asking them to take off all her porn videos from their websites. The petition got over 1.5 million signatures worldwide. Indian media has done little to bring her issue to light. Most Indians don’t even know that there’s a bounty placed on Mia by a terrorist organisation. Despite her posting activism content, she is still associated with the porn industry over any other work that she has done. Her activism work gets much less media attention than discussions about her porn videos which says something deeper about society. We are more interested in a woman’s nudity than her activism. We are keener to watch a woman naked and to read about her as a pornstar than to read about her campaigning for a cause. Being a woman myself, I don’t find the selective attention given by the media to Mia Khalifa encouraging.

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Recently after the Beirut blasts, Mia posted about the situation in Lebanon and has even raised funds to support the victims. There has been almost no media coverage about her work whereas Sonu Sood’s initiatives keep getting covered in the media on a daily basis. In recent news, Sonu Sood’s tweet where he promised to help a flood-hit girl in tribal Bastar region went viral. The media focused less on the actions and the help the girl got than the tweet by Sonu Sood. I have nothing against Sonu Sood’s initiatives and efforts getting coverage where due, however, I would feel more encouraged if I woke up to see similar media attention given to other relevant issues and donation campaigns.

Mia has been working with the Lebanese Red Cross to raise funds for the victims of the recent Beirut blasts. She recently auctioned her infamous glasses which she wore in most of her porn videos for $ 1,00,000. The winner of the auction would also get a signed polaroid of her, a used loofah and a used sideburn razor. The glasses were a symbolic part of Mia’s porn career which she is now trying to get over. This news ideally should have made it to the headlines but are Indians really interested in knowing more about her activism? Are we willing to see her for more than her nudity?

Mia has been trying to get rid of the history of her porn career which she entered at the young age of 21. Little did she know about the abusive contracts in the porn industry. She did not expect to have a bounty placed on her head by a terrorist organisation when she got into porn. Despite her attempts to dissociate with her porn career, it is what people remember her most for.

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I hold nothing against porn stars. They too are “stars” in their own might, if they wish to be. I hold something against the people who refuse to see porn stars as anything more – as real human beings. As an Indian youth who keeps up with trends worldwide and reads the newspaper, I’m disappointed to see Mia’s activism not getting the same enthusiasm from India as her porn videos. I’m even more unhappy to see that Indian media has not covered her story about petitioning against BangBros.

Mia previously had a tattoo on her wrist, the Lebanese Forces cross tattoo which she called “misplaced patriotism” in her recent Instagram posts after the Beirut blasts. She got the tattoo covered up with the geographic outline of Lebanon in red which portrayed that the country was bleeding.

Mia’s association with porn is natural for Indians. She was the topmost searched pornstar in 2016 and the second most searched pornstar in 2017. However, it is saddening to see that Indians don’t know much about her activism. Most men in India sleep with a woman and slut-shame her the very next day. Most often, they judge the very women they sleep with. This mentality has resulted in “rolled eyes” whenever Mia’s name comes up in a conversation. Even women share a similar mentality. They are not willing to look at her more than her porn career. It’s time there’s some change. The work she is doing for Lebanon deserves more attention, from everyone across the world. Specially from the fanbase she has built because of her work in the porn industry.

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The views expressed are the author’s own and not that of SheThePeople.