I recently read an article in The Independent by Julie Burchill entitled, ‘Why is it respectable to watch boxing, but weird to watch pornography?’ (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/julie-burchill/burchilljulie-burchill-why-is-it-respectable-to-watch-boxing-but-weird-to-watch-pornography-2282512.html).
As the title would suggest, Burchill questions our general acceptance of a brutal sport and at the same time wonders why it is still perceived as a taboo to view people ‘making love’ on camera:
“I still have more respect for someone who pays money to watch pay-per-view porn or a live sex show than I do for someone who pays to watch one man injure another, on the screen or in the flesh.”
Its during moments like this that I once again re-examine the circumstances in which I was sacked as a high school teacher for having been involved in pornography. According to the school, this act brought ‘disrepute’ onto the institution.
As far as I am aware, the only person or thing who’s reputation should have been in question, was my own.
More crucially though, why is pornography perceived as something that is worthy of a sackable offence?
I am perfectly willing to accept that there are those of a religious persuasion who disagree with it on grounds of going against teachings of monogamy.
I am perfectly willing to accept that there are those who believe, in their own opinion, that it is wrong and threatens the fabric of a monogamous, family-centric society.
I am perfectly willing to accept that having sex with numerous people increases your health risks, potentially contracting lethal STIs, and could therefore be interpreted as wrong.
All of this, I can totally accept.
However, where is the consistency of opinion?
What about teachers who participate in boxing, cage-fighting, kick-boxing or a martial art in their spare time?
Are there not those of a religious persuasion who might disagree with these on grounds of violence?
Are there not individuals who might argue that these activities are potentially brutal and violent and therefore wrong?
Are there not increased health risks, particularly related to brain damage and possible death, associated with these activities?
What about those teachers up and down the country who smoke?
Are there not those of a religious persuasion who might disagree with it on moral grounds?
Are there not individuals who might also argue that is a morally questionable activity?
Are there not health risks, potentially lethal, associated with smoking?
What about those teachers who drink and many of whom drink excessively regularly?
So, why then, is pornography, a perfectly legal activity, just like the others, seen as a ‘special case’ within the teaching profession? Is it simply because it can be ‘seen’ as opposed to a teacher smoking out the back of the school or outside the school gate? Or a teacher entering a boxing or cage-fighting competition and their face being plastered on posters to promote the event? Or a teacher having a few too many drinks in an after-work binge session within the vicinity of the school? Or an obese teacher eating chips and burgers from the school canteen?
Is a teacher who cage-fights or boxes allowed to discipline students who get into fights? Of course they are.
Is a teacher who smokes allowed to teach PSHE, which includes teaching about the effects of smoking? Yes, indeed.
Is a teacher who drinks excessively most weekends allowed to teach PSHE, which includes teaching about the effects of alcohol? Without a doubt.
Is a teacher who is obese allowed to teach home economics and about the value of a healthy diet? For sure.
Is a teacher who perform in pornographic productions allowed to teach PSHE, which includes teaching about sex education? Apparently not.
Where is the consistency here? Surely, if you have an issue with porn and the repercussions that appearing in porn may have on your teachings (if indeed you believe it will be negative even though there is no proof that it will) then you will have an issue with teachers who box, cage-fight, smoke, drink and over-eat.
Surely the only difference is that pornography involves sex. Thats it. Pure and simple. And for some reason, ‘we’, as a society, seem to have a problem with the public viewing of this activity.
And yet, of the five activities it is the most natural and the one that, for the vast majority of instances, unites people, bringing pleasure and releasing stress, rather than destroying and adding stress to the body.
From a personal perspective, it was because I did porn that I ever got tested for STIs, an experience I was able to share first-hand with the students I taught.
It was because I did porn that I understood the variation in women’s bodies, that everyone is different and that no-one should feel strange or ashamed of themselves or their genitals, another valuable lesson.
It was because I did porn that I could talk with ever-increasing confidence about sex and sexuality and address any question, in an appropriate manner, that was thrown at me by any student.
I’m not advocating in any way the mass cull of teachers involved in any of these activities.
But on reflection, Beal High School, is being a teacher and a porn performer really so incompatible? If so, on what basis and according to whose values? Or are you simply pandering to the religious or the societal ‘norm’ and expectation?