Are porn workers the last pawns of the morality police?

moral_police_fraternity

Yesterday, I was contacted by a friend who had once produced a porn series.  He had appeared on camera as himself, in full clothing, to interview the actors, but never performed.  He last did this several years ago.  Since then, he had been offered work for a large, well-known international TV network to present a new series about wrestling.  This offer was then rescinded, citing his work in porn.  This, by the way, being the same TV network that has, for several years, aired several reality TV series that frequently show young Geordies and New Jerseyites getting drunk, shouting expletives, insults, and having sex, and another re-uniting former couples on tropical beaches in an effort to see if they will get back together or be tempted by one of the other contestants – with plenty of booze and sex, of course.  Not to mention the glaring irony that they are happy to air shows about people punching, slapping and kicking each other (acting or not) in the name of entertainment, but deem consenting adults having sex on screen for other legal consenting adults to enjoy as morality unacceptable.  Never have the words ‘bankrupt’ and ‘morally’ been better suited.

In 2014, I was contacted by an employee of the then named Foster Carers’ Association (FCA) to help raise awareness of ‘Fostering Fortnight’, after he discovered that I had been a foster carer to a former student of mine.  Fostering is something I passionately support and strongly believe that more of us should offer our homes to young people who desperately need loving and caring environments.  The employee, who himself had spent years in care, asked if I had ever considered fostering again.  Of course, I stated, that I would love to, but believed that the nature of my work would prevent me from being permitted to do so.  His response was refreshing:  that the most important thing is being able to offer time, attention and a loving & caring home.  That anything else was immaterial to these basic priorities and that I should, at least, give it a go and see how it went.  So, I did.

Not only did my actions, as a result of my complete honesty during the telephone application about the work that I did, result in me being completely blanked and ignored by the FCA, it also led to the employee, who recommended me, being sacked for having, according to them, allowed a porn performer to be associated with the organisation for simply helping to promote ‘Fostering Fortnight’.  At the time, the FCA was proudly posting about former football manager, Mark Wright (no, not the TOWIE one) as its patron.   A man who had been dismissed from no less than two football clubs for alleged racist abuse allegations and found guilty of harassing his ex-wife, is not only allowed to be a foster carer to numerous young people, but is proudly banded around as the poster kid for one of the country’s largest fostering agencies.   There’s that pair again! – ‘Bankrupt’ and ‘morally’.

Only in the last few months did I learn that this former employee who had been dismissed as a result of my well-intentioned efforts to raise awareness about fostering and to possibly, once again, become a carer myself, won an unfair dismissal case against the FCA.  There is some justice in this world.

While the compensation awarded might not bankrupt the FCA financially, any effort by them to cast a judgement on what is deemed morally questionable is entirely corrupt when they permit alleged racists and wife-abusers to be associated with their brand.  That racism and domestic abuse are ‘on brand’ for a fostering agency but the fact that someone may work, or have worked, in a legal entertainment industry for adults, makes them entirely incapable of being a decent and responsible carer to young people – no matter how desperate they might be for homes.  That their image is far more important than the need to find loving carers and safe homes – how ‘moral’ is that?

Of course, there is also my own case of dismissal.  Sacked, as I was, in 2010, from Beal High School in London for having ‘brought the profession into disrepute’.  A year later, I challenged it in front of the General Teaching Council and won the right to remain on the teaching register and return to the profession.  But who, in reality, in this current moral climate, would hire me?

The sad fact is that, as we all know, no school would probably wish to take that risk.  Not because I am not a good teacher.  Not because I do not have the necessary skills and qualifications.  Simply because they know that there are some who would not approve and it would not fit in with the image they are trying to promote.  Or, as they prefer to state, it would bring the ‘profession into disrepute’.

Time and time again, both in the UK and USA, we are seeing examples of individuals being dismissed for other work and activities they have been involved in either in their past or in their time outside of their main job.  Again and again the term ‘bringing the profession into disrepute’ is touted as the motive for their removal.  And the rest of us in the society just roll over and accept it.  Just like we used to when gays were sacked from the military or teaching or a multitude of other professions in the past.

The fact that a job in pornography is singled-out as a justifiable reason to sack someone is a gross hypocrisy.  While, at the same time I was being dismissed for having worked in porn, other colleagues at the school were permitted, in their free time, to be a kickboxer, work in pubs (pedalling the most ‘dangerous drug’ in society, as deemed by the Parliamentary Independent Scientific Committee), worship in mosques, preach in catholic churches (promoting the non-use of contraception and, at the time, the sin of homosexuality – despite being gay himself!), smoke in the (tax-payer) provided smoking room (until it was legally removed in 2007), to over indulge in fatty foods to the point of carrying dangerously excessive body weight – nearly all of which has PROVEN negative effects on individuals and society (the most important being death – can’t really think of anything much worse than that).  And yet, pornography, the legal production of entertainment involving consensual sex between adults, is deemed to be the only activity which is worthy of a sacking.  No PROVEN negative effects – and certainly no hypothetical link to physical deterioration or death or the promotion of violence or death (such as the likes of the Old Testament or Qu’ran).

Why do we permit this hypocrisy to continue?  Why do the winds blow so strongly in this direction against the moral barometer when the evidence simply isn’t there and the rationale is so contradictory?

Even if there is a logical argument to continue this discrimination of porn actors and workers in the general labour market, what is the legal basis for those in positions of authority to do so?  Is there any?

In an article by Simon Jones for Ariadne Associates on 24th February 2015 entitled “Straw and Rifkind show the problem of managing staff with “second jobs” ” on whether employees can hold second jobs, Jones highlighted three main areas of consideration:

Firstly, you can’t impose a blanket ban on individuals doing work when they aren’t working for you. Individuals have a right to spend their time outside work in whatever way they wish, which includes earning money. However, you do have a right to ensure that they are not doing anything which could damage your business –so you can legitimately prevent them from working for a competitor, or other organisation which might want access to your commercial information (a supplier or customer for example). As with all these things, should matters be challenged by the employee, you’d need to show that there was some clear impact on your business.

There is no mention of the notion of ‘bringing an organisation/industry in disrepute’.  For this to be argued, it would have to be proven, which it is impossible to do.  The concept is, of course, wholly subjective.  What one deems to be capable of causing ‘disrepute’ is driven by the whims and fancies of individuals, dictated by their own sense of morality and which way they believe the barometer of cultural ‘norms’ and acceptability is being blown on that day.  This is usually down to perception, backed by zero evidence and frequently changes over time.  The perception is also often wrong.  In the case of porn actors, poll after poll conducted by newspapers in the UK and abroad overwhelmingly show that the public do not believe that working in a porn is a reason that individuals should be dismissed from employment – including several polls specifically on the teaching profession.  While newspaper polls may not be scientific or particularly reliable, they are considerably more so than an individual, or collection of individuals, in one organisation simply deeming it to be so based merely on their own sense of perception.

In previous decades, individuals were sacked from their employment, or not hired in the first place, because of their homosexuality.  Up until recent years, homosexuality was deemed as an immoral and unacceptable ‘lifestyle choice’ by significant numbers of people in society, including those in power or positions of influence in organisations and places of employment.   I specifically remember that in in the mid-nineties, being homosexual was a bar to entering the diplomatic service, as it was an area of employment I was curious in pursuing.  Teachers at that time were still subject to the controversial ‘Clause 28’ which aimed to prevent the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in British schools, which led most in the profession to steer well clear of even mentioning the topic to young people and caused most gay and lesbian teaching staff to lie and hide the truth about their sexuality from students and staff alike.

While gay and lesbian teachers do still suffer, usually in silence, within the profession, fearing how they might be treated, particularly by the young people, if they were to ‘out’ themselves, it would be unthinkable that an openly gay or lesbian person would not be hired or were to be sacked for being so.  If it happened, here would be an uproar.  Homosexuality is widely tolerated and accepted (and often celebrated) within large sways of British and western society, particularly amongst the metropolitan elite who run, and influence, large sectors of government, political offices and the media.  Fortunately for the LGBTIQA community, although much still needs to be done, the barometer is now pointing in the right direction so that any discrimination thrown their way is rightfully treated as a serious matter to be challenged and prevented by huge sways of of those in our liberal, democratic society.

However much work still needs to be done to improve the lives and treatment of those within the the LGBTIQA community, it is light years ahead of those people who choose to LEGALLY enter pornography as a performer or producer, or in many other capacities.  Let me stress that fact:  pornography is LEGAL.  Everyone who works within it is working withing a LEGAL profession.  Like many other professions, there are guidelines and rules, and while some of these in the UK are controversial and considered draconian by some with the porn industry, it does not change the fact that pornography itself is completely LEGAL – to produce, perform in and purchase.

We are all entitled, on a personal basis, to make moral judgements about individuals and the choices they make about their careers and how they choose to make money.  Across our society, there are strong opinions about those involved in the meat trade, factory farming, the betting industry, the alcohol and tobacco industries, the fast food industry, hunting, those who make large sums of money kicking a leather football backwards and forwards, boxing, wrestling, the modelling and fashion industries, defence and arms production, space development agencies, nuclear power, religious education and the religious industry (yes, its an industry), TV evangelists, producers of horror films, action movies, reality TV, the banking industry, the diamond trade, psychics, astrologers, homeopaths, reiki healers and a whole array of ‘alternative’ therapies, anti-contraception catholic charities, high street money lenders, comedians…  to name just a few.  But how many individuals involved in these industries would be dismissed because their employer found out that they had worked, or had a second job in, any of these?  I dare say not many, if any.

For a multitude of reasons, often illogical, society currently deems all those listed industries above as ‘acceptable’, despite being controversial and despite, in some cases, having proven negative effects on our society – both here in the western world and in developing countries.  The effects of pornography, oft debated and hypothesised, both negative and positive, are neither proven nor disproven.  Despite this, those who work in pornography carry with them a stigma and prejudice that usually goes unchallenged and continues to be deemed acceptable across the board to the extent that employers and other providers can legitimately discriminate against such people, despite any evidence to back it up.  Based merely on perception and a subjective and emotive sense of morality.

 

You can also prevent an employee from doing other work if it would stop them from working for you. So if someone wants to do an evening job starting at 6 but isn’t due to finish their shift with you till 7, then you can of course also prevent them from doing this.

Of course.  Seems like common sense.

 

The third key area is Health and Safety, particularly (and ironically given how much some employers seem to hate them) via the Working Time Regulations. These lay down the rules about the maximum 48 hour working week, rest breaks and time between shifts. If a member of staff works 35 hours a week for you (9 to 5 Mon-Fri say) and then wants to do 20 hours a week in a bar (say a four hour shift Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday) you could try to prevent them from doing so on the grounds that they are working 55 hour weeks possibly without sufficient rest between shifts. Again, if you can show a clear safety risk (they operate machinery for example) it’s easier to do this.

Again, pretty common sensical and appropriate.  But, again, this is across the board and non-prescriptive or discriminatory about what kind of LEGAL work it is.  Rightfully so.

This is exactly how it should be.  Rules concerning other and previous employment should be across the board and not discriminatory based on the nature of the work.  If it is legal employment then all employment all is valid and any discrimination based on perception or a moral judgement should not be permitted under any grounds.

Of course, in the hiring process, people are employed based on the skills and abilities they possess.  If someone who has worked in porn lacks those skills, then that should be the reason they are not hired in the first place.  Not hiring someone because they have done porn, despite the fact it is legal employment and despite the fact they possess the skills, should be deemed entirely unacceptable rationale and reasoning.

In an ideal world, those of us who have worked in the pornographic industry should proudly state it on our CVs.  Most of us carry no shame for our pasts or, in some cases, our presents.  But we have lives to live, bills to pay and families to feed.  We are more than aware of the discrimination that we continue to face.  For the same reason that gay people in the past, and in many cases still, do not reveal the truth of their sexualities (not that it is ever relevant when it comes to employment), porn workers are made to hide their careers from the moral police who still deem it acceptable to single out, victimise and rip from their employment simply because they don’t like it.

Its time for us all, especially those who work, or have worked in porn, to stand up against this perception, to challenge those who dismiss porn and sex workers, to change our attitudes to sex, sex work and pornography.

More importantly, all of us who have ever benefited from the products of pornography must also take a stand.  Pornography is a billion-dollar industry.  Millions of us consume it.  In the vast majority of cases, we use it for the reason it is intended – to entertain.  It can help us as individuals to understand ourselves, our sexualities and bring sexual relief.  It can help our relationships.  All of us who have used porn and benefited from it should stand up for the people who put their lives and reputations on the line to help produce it – the sons, the daughters, mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, cousins and grand-children, all human beings with feelings, emotions and ambitions who help produce an under-rated, but over-used, form of entertainment for millions, if not billions, to enjoy.  We must do our bit to change the tide, liberalise our societies and their attitudes to sex generally and the sex industry.  The more we can unsaddle those of us who work in the sex industry with the burden of life-long stigmatism and prejudice, the more we can all be more open about our sexualities and the more we can help all of us to rid society as a whole of the guilt that continues to plague all of us when we dare to veer from the narrow road of deemed accepted sexual normality.

 

Sources:

https://ariadne-associates.co.uk/2015/02/24/straw-and-rifkind-show-the-problem-of-managing-staff-with-second-jobs/

 

WARNING: Porn ain’t so bad

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Many anti-porners will attempt to hypothesise the negative effects that viewing pornography can have on the individual viewer and on society at large.  Having contributed to well over 50 debates on TV, radio and at universities, usually in opposition to some member of the anti-porn lobby, I notice it is very easy to throw assertions, but proving any of these hypotheses is impossible.  It can be equally difficult, at times, to prove the arguments in favour of pornography too.

However, here is a list of 35 things we know, for sure, that legal pornography cannot be accused of doing, proving that such legalised activities as smoking, drinking, over-eating and belonging to organised religion, really do pose more of a threat to you and your health, and those of your children and loved ones, than pornography ever could.

 

Legal pornography does not:

  • pollute your lungs with carcinogens and breathe poisonous toxins over your children.
  • clog your arteries or raise your cholesterol.
  • cause a heart attack.
  • affect the health of your liver and brain.
  • cause you to be impotent or infertile.
  • cause you to be intoxicated or high with the possibility of indulging in unruly or anti-social.
  • cause you to end you up in A&E as a result of being overly intoxicated or high.
  • physically harm you in any way.
  • dislike you because you happen to support a certain football team.
  • look down on your because you sound a certain way or have a certain accent.
  • care what clothes you wear, if you wear clothes, have tattoos, piercings or facial hair.
  • discriminate against you on any grounds – except that you can afford it.
  • damage your un-born child.
  • force you or your child to marry someone not of their choosing.
  • mutilate your genitals in its name.
  • tell you that eating a pig, having consensual sex with someone of the same sex or using contraception is a sin and will result in spending an eternal afterlife in a pit of fire.
  • beat you until you recite its holy text correctly.
  • promote a holy text where its ‘divine creator’ is responsible for at least (according to its own numbers) 2,821,364 deaths.
  • force you to watch it.
  • teach you that it is better to gang-rape a virgin teenager than have consenting sex with someone of the same sex.
  • imprison or kill you for choosing to abort an unborn child.
  • hate you for not watching it.
  • dunk your head in water, thereby inducting you into it, despite being way too young to know what the hell is going on.
  • make you believe you have the right to kill, in its name, those who do not watch it or support it.
  • encourage you to hang around outside the funerals of dead soldiers, denouncing them and their government.
  • encourage you to fly passenger aircraft into tall buildings.
  • encourage children to blow themselves up in its name.
  • encourage you to run away to a rogue terrorist state involved in brutal and mass murders of innocent civilians.
  • move known paedophiles from one diocese to another in an attempt to conceal past cases of child abuse.
  • look after your children and then beat or rape them while doing so.
  • force you to cover your hair, body and face and punish you for not doing so.
  • force you to grow a beard and punish your for not doing so.
  • torture or execute you for being homosexual .
  • torture or execute you for not believing in it.
  • start a war in its name.

Porn = rape? Nothing could be further from the truth

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Anti-porners claim that porn is a form of ‘rape’. That the women who ‘choose’ to be involved in it are, in essence, being raped.

Now, let’s visit reality just for a few minutes and review the stage every single performer (female and male) has to go through to be involved in a porn shoot:

1) You agree, in advance, to a date, location and shoot and you are notified, there and then, who you are working with and the nature of the shoot.

2) On the day, you travel, sometimes a long distance, to get to the location of the shoot.

3) You get ready for the shoot, which can involve quite a bit of time in make-up.

4) You produce and are photographed with TWO forms of photographic ID.

5) Prior to the shoot, you will have taken the time, effort and, often cost, to go to be tested at a GU clinic in order to produce and be photographed with a valid sexual health certificate on the day of the shoot.

6) You read, agree to and sign a model release form.

7) ONLY THEN, do you get anywhere near to having any form of sexual activity with anyone.

8) AND THEN, not forgetting the crucial part, the whole thing is filmed as video for millions of people to view, not to mention the police, lawyers and the court system, should they so wish to prosecute!

Now, on what planet, in what legal system, to any sane, sober and sound mind, is that in anyway the definition of ‘RAPE’???

If I had to go through the rigmarole of completing each of these processes every time I had a sexual liaison with anyone we would have probably lost interest! I certainly could never be accused of not trying my HARDEST to have sought consent, and being able to prove it, from the other party!!!

Women: Why Anti-Porn Feminists hate you

Gail_Dines

Dear Anti-Porn Feminist,

No-one is denying that there are not negative ASPECTS of the porn industry that can affect SOME people.

Lets use an analogy that you, and Gail Dines, may indeed understand:

The lovely Gail Dines is a smoker despite the fact that she KNOWS that there are scientifically PROVEN direct negative effects. There is certainly a convincing argument to make that smoking should be banned because of these PROVEN negative effects, but others believe it is an affront to the choice of smokers to be able to enjoy a habit they have elected to involve themselves with. So, as a compromise, in our society, we might tackle the issues, such as smoking around children, smoking in public places, but we allow individuals the right to make the choice of actually smoking and not ban the whole thing, despite the OVERWHELMING evidence that smoking IS a massively negative habit.

Now to porn:

There are no PROVEN negative effects of porn whatsoever. Might it affect some individuals in a negative way? Absolutely, just like many industries.

You see this is the issue, every industry that exists has negative aspects to it and CAN affect individuals negatively, but that is not because it is the industry that it is, but because of actions of individuals and companies within those industries. Do we therefore, in any other instance, reach the conclusion that a whole industry should be banned because of negative aspects within it? Do we say that we should ban the manufacturing of clothes because child labour is used in Pakistan and because of shoddy factory structures that kill its workers in Bangladesh? Do we say the medical industry or farming shouldn’t exist because of the high suicide rate of doctors and farmers? Do we say food should cease to be manufactured because of the increasing rates of obesity in the world?  NO, OF COURSE WE DON’T.  We tackle the child labour, the conditions, the suicide, the fat content.  Because the problem is NOT the INDUSTRY, but aspects of it.

As a ‘porny’ man (as Gail Dines has so poetically described me), who has worked in UK porn and as an escort (i.e. PROSTITUTE) for the past ten years, I have never encountered sex-trafficking, violence or abuse and none of the other issues that you highlight, but do I sit here and deny that they might not indeed exist?  No, of course I don’t.  I don’t like the fact they exist any more than you do and we MUST do something about them.  But the problem is SEX TRAFFICKING, VIOLENCE and ABUSE not pornography.

The issue with so many Anti-Porn Feminists (APFs) is that they simply do not like pornography. If you can genuinely tell me that the principle of people watching other people having sex who CHOOSE to be watched having sex, is really the problem and are able to prove it to me, then maybe I might have some sympathy with your cause.  But it is not the problem.

I totally understand and appreciate the concerns of many APFs, but the conclusions they reach are irrational, disproportionate and disingenuous AND, might I add, do far more harm to the freedom and rights of women than the misplaced belief that they are fighting for them.

APF is bullying of women by another, poorly constructed acronymous, name.

They attempt to claim that women are bullied into their roles of paid sex objects by patriarchy and yet, use a far more aggressive form of bullying to try and TELL women how they should behave and, unless they toe that line, are doing a dis-service to themselves and to womanhood.

You see, APFs hate most women (indeed, very often they hate themselves, as most APFs are hypocrites at some point within their own lives).  They believe most women are ‘slaves’ to the patriarchy and are either too stupid to be able to understand this and, in turn, rid themselves of the ‘chains’ that men impose on them or, as is more often the case, despicable examples of women if you allow yourselves to go along with, and perpetuate, the status quo.  Unless you go along with what APFs wish to impose on you, you are not a proper women.  That is, of course, peer-pressure or bullying it its most classic form.

If you are ANTI-PORN then say it. Say “I DON’T LIKE PORN”. That is absolutely fine. I DON’T LIKE FOOTBALL. But I don’t attempt to campaign against the whole thing because there is racism, violence, hooliganism, nationalism, tribalism, associated with it.  Instead, you pressurise the industry and work WITH the industry, to sort out these things.  Where and when negativity exists (although this, of course, can be subjective), we discuss it and deal with it on a case-by-case basis. Where there is criminality (as so many APFs accuse), we deal with it straight away and get the relevant authorities involved.

We do need to get the idiots, the abusers, the irresponsible producers out of porn and prostitution and other aspects of the sex industry. We do need to make it a safe environment for all.  But APFs need to accept that many women (albeit, not the type of women they understand or like, but nonetheless, still women) DO choose to work in it and enjoy their work and should be afforded that right to do so.  APFs are perfectly entitled not to like pornography or prostitution, but do not deny that right to others based on your poor evidence and on your “well I don’t like it, therefore no-one else will” and “because there’s a few problems, ban the whole thing” attitude.

I might not speak for the whole of the sex industry, I speak for myself as an autonomous ‘porny’ man, so there will, indeed, be those in the industry who might disagree with me, indeed, I know there are. But one thing we do agree on is that pornography and prostitution SHOULD exist, but, like all industries, it may need reform from within.

Of course, I am a penis-freeholder, so you may choose to entirely disregard everything I have written because, obviously, I have NO understanding of the plight of women whatsoever.

Kind regards,

Benedict Garrett

P.S.  Here’s a video of a Cambridge Union Society debate I spoke at in opposition to Gail Dines:

 

 

Pornstars, others in the sex industries, and their supporters, will come together in London to protest against the Stop Porn Culture event that aims to censor sexual expression in the UK.  https://www.facebook.com/events/464149933684948/465962836836991/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity
Read why former pornstar Renee Richards will be protesting: http://sexandcensorship.org/2014/02/uk-pornstars-fight-back/

Please help build this event by donating to Sex & Censorship here: http://sexandcensorship.org/donate/

Am I gay?

It would come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, least of all my close friends and family, if I was to ‘come out’ as ‘gay’.  Since the earliest age I can remember, I have adhered to many of the stereotypes and was regularly taunted throughout my childhood by others who were quick to label my sexuality as such, whether I wanted to or not.

big-brother-2012-miss-bb-00

At the age of 14, I remember, quite distinctly, confronting my parents and warning them of the possibility that their youngest son might be homosexual.  They hardly battered an eyelid then, now they’re more surprised if ever I bring back a partner who happens to be female.

There is no reason whatsoever that the idea of ‘coming out’ would ever be an issue for me.  If I am prepared to stand upto the world press and unashamedly confess to a life of porn and stripping while teaching minors, I think telling a predominantly gay-friendly friendship group and family something they half expect to hear anyway, would hardly be the greatest of challenges I’d ever have to face.

Except for the fact that identifying myself as ‘gay’ would be a dishonest representation of my sexuality.  But then, so would calling myself ‘straight’.

It is understandable, that in a society that has been conditioned to understand itself through the teachings of fairy tales and fables that divides the world into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘good’ and ‘bad’, that it would wish, in order to perpetuate this ease of understanding for even the most simple of human brains, to compartmentalise every facet of humanity, irrespective of how complex its very nature may be.

It makes total sense to pigeon-hole those things whose barriers and limits are clearly identifiable –  colours (eyes, hair, skin to a lesser extent), nationalities (one either is British or they are not, proven by a passport), genders (for the vast majority), jobs, religions – all things which people either are, or are  not.  But sexuality is far more complex than this.

I am frequently asked questions about my own sexuality, largely because I refuse to identify myself as either ‘gay’, ‘straight’ or even ‘bisexual’.  Most recently, someone posted some interesting questions on my Ask.fm account and I would like to attempt to answer them as part of this blog post:

15 % of people don’t think bisexuality is a real sexual orientation Male bisexuals were viewed more negatively than female bisexuals http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2490825/15-percent-people-dont-think-bisexuality-real-sexual-orientation-straight-men-times-likely-categorize-thing.htmlAgree?

It is hardly a surprise to me that a certain percentage of people do not see bisexuality as a real sexual orientation, and even less of a surprise that the Daily Mail wishes to bring this to our attention or even thinks that there is any ‘news’ in this article.  It also comes as no surprise that male bisexuals are viewed more negatively.

We live in a heterocentric society that is perpetuated, yet again, through the likes of fairy tales and religion from the earliest of ages.  Even musical theatre, a staunchly ‘gay’ environment if ever there was one, does little to combat this heterocentricity and, except in rare instances, fails to redress the balance – more often, it adds to the stereotypes!

The majority of people live pretty predictable lives that have been pre-determined for them even before conception.  Even today, the majority (although it may be dwindling) will stick to the ‘norms’ and customs that their society, through tradition, religion, community, expects of them.  Whether they are coerced or simply ‘choose’ to partake in the rites of passages generations before them have pursued in order to ‘fit in’, most people, at least on paper, live predominantly carbon-copy lives.

The idea of stepping out of the heterosexual norm is not something that most people, at least publicly, are prepared to do.    This is not unusual.  Even in the more liberal societies, on the whole, most people tend not to deviate from what is considered ‘normal’, whatever it may be.  But things are changing.  What is, perhaps, the most interesting and pleasantly surprising discovery of this study, is that such a low percentage do not recognise bisexuality.  This is clearly progress.

What is not surprising, however, is the idea that male bisexuals are viewed in a far more negative light than female.

Late last night/early morning, while attempting to find something on TV that might lull me off to sleep, I happened upon an episode of the Jerry Springer show.  This is always a mistake if you are wishing to reaffirm your faith in humanity.  Rarely does a talk show audience out-do the guests when it comes to the shame stakes as they are encouraged, at the end of the show, to taunt those who have shared their stories with some of the most juvenile, one-up-man, right-wing rhetoric that any high school bully would be proud of.  Its mob rule against anyone who deviates from the US ‘ideal’.  It will surprise no-one that a lady, who had just confessed to a one-night stand with her lesbian room-mate, was ceremoniously cheered and exalted with chants of “We love lesbians!  We love lesbians!”.  I would hazard a guess that, had it be a man doing it with his gay roomie, the reaction  might have been quite different.

The ‘heterosexual male’ loves a lesbian.  Oh no, not an ACTUAL lesbian, you understand?  But a ‘lesbian’ on their terms.  That is to say, an essentially ‘straight’ woman getting it on with another, essentially, ‘straight’ woman, usually for the viewing pleasure of said male, of course.  ‘Straight’ porn is littered with scenes of ‘straight’ women exploring other ‘straight’ women’s genitals for the viewing pleasure of ‘straight’ males.

While I regularly defend the principle of pornography, I am the first to admit that it still largely caters for the heterosexual male, his view of the female and her place in society and in the bedroom.  The ‘lesbian’ fantasy is one that caters to his urges and desires.  One that says “we’re doing this for you” or even “maybe you too could get involved!”.  The ‘lesbian’ fantasy therefore panders to the heterosexual male ego, it perpetuates his view that women serve to pleasure him, not that these women are indulging in ‘lesbian’ activity for their own benefit or enjoyment, but for that of the heterosexual male onlooker.  It does not, in any way, threaten his own sexuality or make him question it in any way, it reaffirms his alpha-male status and the notion that women, however homosexual he allows them to be, are ultimately fulfilling his own sexual urges and fantasies.

However, the same men who jump at the idea of women embracing same-sex love are often repulsed by the equivalent within the male population.  The mere notion of a man even looking at them in an admiring way is enough to make some of the male species vomit in their own mouths.  For some men, this is threatening, both physically and to their own sexuality.  The idea that another man may look at them and wish to treat to them in the way that he likes to look and treat women is degrading to him.  Too often, men like to dominate.  Men like to be in control.  Men like to be the givers, the providers and never the receivers.  To be seen to surrender this role is, in their eyes, a sign of weakness, a slight on their masculinity.  Its not that men are physically incapable of, or don’t have the potential of, exploring their homosexuality, its simply that they don’t want to.  Or, put more accurately, they do as much as possible to show publicly that they don’t want to.

The fact is, many men, even the most die-hard ‘straight’ man does often venture into their homosexual side.  Sometimes through the mere act of ‘accepted’ moments of homo-erotic male bonding (sports – if boxing and wrestling aren’t latent excuses for hoards of men to watch big muscly guys get sweaty in little more than their underwear, then I’m the Pope!) or the increase in sales of such things as muscle and men’s health magazines (narcissism, ‘self love’ by another name, it takes an attraction to one’s own gender to appreciate beauty in yourself), often through coercion in institutions like public schools, single-sex schools, prisons, the military, religious institutions (of course!), sometimes through the aid of alcohol or drug-induced antics to remove the inhibitions  and sometimes, even, in a mere sober state, but willing to take the plunge and give it a try.

I cannot count the number of times I have been hit-on by supposedly ‘straight’ men.  Strangers, both drunk and sober, and long time friends, both drunk sober.  Several people who are now married with kids have asked me, on numerous occasions, to be their long-term lover.  Through my work too, I have received many requests from married men, curious men, men who identify as ‘straight’ but would like to give it a go, nothing surprises me at all.

I think people assume that my view of sexuality comes simply from my own feelings in my own head.  That would be, even in my own opinion, a poor basis on which to reach a conclusion.  Sexuality is complex, it takes more than inner debates with myself to attempt to make some level of understanding of it.  I have perhaps been more fortunate (you may disagree) in my level of exposure and experience within the world of sexual exploration than the average person.  Some might say this could warp my opinion, but I would argue it gives me a greater level of understanding of the many different perspectives and workings of the human mind around it.  So, while you may believe that Benedict’s opinion of sexuality simply comes from a concoction within his own head, let me reassure you that it is also a blend of the experiences and encounters I’ve had with others, their views of their own and human sexuality and the research of many professionals in the field I have personally encountered and read about too.

I am often accused of ‘claiming’ to be ‘bisexual’ in order to appease both women and men and, more specifically, to tap into the pink pound.  Firstly, I make no claim to being ‘bisexual’.  I state, quite categorically that I am not ‘gay’ and neither am I ‘straight’.  I reject the term ‘bisexual’, but if you choose to label me as such, it is your label and not mine.  Secondly, anyone who knows me and spends any time reading my posts, tweets and listening to what I have to say, knows full well that I am not on some kind of PR campaign.  Unlike many people who call themselves ‘celebs’ (not that I do), I have strong opinions and am not afraid to express them, regardless of who I may offend along the way.  I will not swallow my tongue in order to have a more captive market to sell a brand or a product to.  Those people who also know me, are fully aware that money is not my main driving force.  So, the idea that I wish to pursue some kind of gay market in order to keep their cash flowing in my direction is preposterous.  I am not attempting to please or appease anyone, but to give an accurate depiction of my own view of sexuality.  I don’t care one bit who agrees or does not agree.

I recognise that, sometimes, I don’t give people enough credit.  Many people who say they are either ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ do so simply for ease of communication and not wishing to invite a lengthy debate and explanation, particularly with a complete stranger.  This is totally understandable.  I suppose my issue is not with the questionee.  I mean, if you’re asking the question, you’re unlikely to appreciate the complexity of the answer.  Many times I’ve been approached by drunk ‘ladies’ with the same question:  “are you gay?”.  Sometimes I wish I had simply said “yes”.  At least then I wouldn’t be wasting my time attempting to explain to someone who’s brain is so frazzled by their alcohol intake about the complexities of human sexuality or, yet again, asking myself why those who are so curious about where I stick my penis nearly always seem to suffer the same level of halitosis.  If anything will turn someone ‘gay’, its the rat-arsed ignoramus who will ask you if you are.

It is completely understandable to me that someone who feels strong feelings for people of the same sex would wish to find peers who think similarly and are accepting of it.  That is common within humanity.   Which is precisely why newly arrived immigrant groups tend to form ghettos in large cities in order to feel secure within a community of commonality within a wider society that is perhaps hostile towards their presence.  Exactly the same can be said for people who identify themselves as ‘gay’.

Despite much progress in a relatively short amount of time, the UK is still not as accepting to homosexuality as it could be.  Even in the larger cities, it can still be a threatening environment to anyone who is brave enough to publicly admit to being ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’.  It makes total sense that those men and women who have the courage to  publicly stand up and announce their homosexuality, knowing that this is the situation, will often (by no means all) seek the support and friendship of those of a like mind.  A feeling of belonging, whatever the basis of that community you belong to, is an important part of the human experience.  No-one likes to feel alone, even the most independent of people like to know that there is a support network out there if ever they need it.

The development of the ‘gay’ community is therefore a logical progression in a society that is yet to find general acceptance of homosexuality as a natural part of human sexuality and still, to a large degree, perceives it as a ‘abnormal’, ‘deviant’ and, in some cases, ‘immoral’.  I cannot, under these circumstances, in any way, blame, or criticise, any individual for wishing to identify as ‘gay’ and feel, to whatever degree, part of that experience.

Indeed, I even support the gay community on many occasions – performed at Manchester & Glasgow Pride, go-go danced and stripped at numerous gay clubs in London, Manchester, Spain and Antwerp, been interviewed on Gaydar radio, was an announcer on Gay TV when it existed, been in numerous gay lifestyle magazines, performed in a solo scene for a gay porn site and toured the UK in a gay comedy playing a gay Spanish naturist.   While the UK still deems homosexuality as abnormal and while significant numbers of Brits still choose to judge those who choose to explore this avenue of their sexuality as sinful, based on the teachings of a centuries-old text that is purportedly handed down through the words of a supernatural mythical entity (or a fairy tale, as we commonly call such nonsense), I will do everything I can to support the ‘gay’ community in this country and around the world.

This does not mean however, that I am not critical of the label ‘gay’ (hence my continual use of the inverted commas).  As I explained earlier, I am uncomfortable with limiting something as complex as human sexuality to simply two narrow labels.  But, beyond that, I have two further criticisms of this, and any other label, that we use to define our sexualities.

On the many occasions that I am confronted by that inebriated loon in the club who demands to know in which hole I happen to stick my ‘chap’, my usual response (after “why is it any of your business other than the person into whom I’m sticking it?”) is nearly always: “I’m human”.  Now, some people might deem this a pretentious and unnecessarily obvious comment to make.  But the point I am attempting to put across to the brain-dead lost cause in the flashing lights of a cheesy nightclub is that there is only one sexuality – human sexuality.  We all have the potential, to greater and lesser degrees to explore both extremities of our sexualities.  Most people don’t, for many reasons already discussed, but others do.  For those who do, the fact that one day they choose to explore their homosexual side should no longer label them as ‘gay’ for the rest of their life as much as someone who ventures into the heterosexual realm as ‘straight’.  Sexuality is fluid and complex, just because most humans suppress the notion, does not make it less so.

To say I AM ‘gay’, i.e. to use the verb ‘to be’ to explain your sexuality, implies that your sexuality defines who you ARE and is, by and large, a permanent and rigid state.  I do not believe anyone IS a sexuality.  I believe we enter same-sex relationships, but we do so as human beings with a sexuality that is capable of developing in so many ways.  We enter relationships with individuals and not with genders or genitals.  We are attracted to a person for who they are, not for what they have hanging, or not, between their legs.  If you genuinely believe that the mere detail of the gender of the person with whom you choose to involve yourself with romantically is a defining part of your personality and that you are a sum of which hole you choose to penetrate or be penetrated in, then maybe you are happy to believe that a sexuality IS what you ARE.  I believe MY identity is formed by various aspects and, certainly, the PERSON I may be in a relationship with will impact and influence on that, but not the fact they are either male or female.  I will not let the notion that I am pursuing either a homosexual or heterosexual relationship at any given time in my life, allow me to believe that my life is defined by a narrow set of stereotypes and generalisations that I now feel I should have to adhere to in order to ‘fit in’ or, even, give other people the privilege of doing it for me.  Take ownership of your own individual sexuality and don’t let anyone or any community do it for you.

But why am I so reluctant to call myself ‘bisexual’?  I hear you ask.  If we accepted that all human beings are, by nature, bisexual, then it would not be an issue.  But ‘bisexual’ is still banded around as a term to describe something that a minority of people indulge in and is deemed as going against the ‘norm’.  Allowing yourself to be labelled, or being given the label, ‘bisexual’ is deeply unhelpful to the rest of society in understanding their own sexuality and the inevitable confusions and discoveries that arise throughout their own lives as part of it.  The moment we label someone as ‘gay’, ‘straight’ or ‘bisexual’, we allot them into distinct groups that any individual is either part of or not, as the case may be.  Its US and THEM.  I am STRAIGHT.  HE is GAY.  SHE is BISEXUAL.  Narrow, rigid confines, the likes of fairy tale idealism, in order to make sense of the complicated human experience for the lowest common denominator who is incapable of understanding anything with a bit more depth and complexity.

If you have read this far and not completely zoned-out, you will appreciate (even if you don’t agree with) the reason that I find the labels ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ inaccurate depictions of our human sexuality.  The term ‘bisexual’,  despite perhaps attempting to put a more logical label on it and while we allot it to only those who openly admit to a ‘selfish’ sexuality, is actually deeply unhelpful for the rest of us to understand ourselves.  With the US and THEM scenario, it relinquishes us of taking ownership of our own human sexuality and ghettoises it into the three, supposedly distinct, sexualities of STRAIGHT, GAY and BISEXUAL.  It negates the abilities of all us to explore the fullest potentials of our innate sexualities for fear of being labelled one or the other, potentially for life, by failing to recognise that we can venture down any path at any time – turn left, turn right, turn right again, make a u-turn, go the wrong way down a one-way road – and simply be what we always have been:  SEXUAL BEINGS.  Or, as I say in my condescending and pretentious manner:  “human”.

“Have you fallen in love with a man ? Possibly” previously you’ve said you don’t believe in being ‘in love’ and also if you have , go for it for all the guys who might be ‘in the closet’ and scared to come out . You could be a role model for young homosexuals

I have always said that I am happy to pursue relationships with any individual that I am attracted to.  The gender is irrelevant.

There is, however, no need for me to ‘come out’.  If you’ve read this far, it will be quite clear as for my reasons why.  I have had limited sexual experiences with men.  I feel no need to publicly announce it, as I felt no need to publicly announce the times I have had liaisons with women.  The individuals I choose to have relationships and sexual encounters with is no-one’s business but my own and the person or people with whom I am in a relationship or sexual encounter with.

Again, I completely understand why some people feel that ‘coming out’ can be beneficial to coming to terms with their sexual preferences, that it may indeed have a cathartic effect and mark the beginning of a new, confident life for them having made public knowledge the way that they deem their sexuality should be identified.  I would not wish to deny that to anyone.  If ‘coming out’ makes sense to you and is helpful to you, then that is great.  Go for it!  However, I have stated previously, when asked by a young person, that no-one should have to feel under any pressure to have to ‘come out’ at any point in their life.  Who you are intimate with is your business and no-one else’s.  Make it as public as you like, but don’t believe that ‘coming out’ is a necessary part of coming to terms with your natural human sexuality.

So, to address the above point raised on Ask.fm, there will be no ceremonial ‘coming out’ for Benedict Garrett.  He has been out and proud for many years.  Out, that is, as a human being who is proud to explore all avenues of his sexuality without the need to give it a label, limit it or put lids on it.

I apologise if this negates my ability to be a role model to anyone.  I have never in my life attempted to be a role model.  It is touching that many people have said, for various reasons, that I am, but I have never intended on being so.  I live my life according to my own values and beliefs and try to be as true to myself about who I am.  This is not about being a role model.  If I am to enter a relationship with someone of the same-sex, I do it solely for my selfish pursuit of love and happiness, not in order to be a role model for anyone – ‘gay’, ‘straight’ or ‘bisexual’.

So, am I ‘gay’?  No, but you’re not either.

“Benedict Talks Gay”

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The problem with pornography is…

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… well, just that.

We speak of ‘pornography’ as if we know what each of us is referring to exactly and yet, very often, some of us have quite different notions of what pornography is.

For some of us too, the word ‘pornography’ is highly loaded.  It only takes some people to hear the first syllable and the look of revulsion on their face is enough to make even the most bitter of lemons seem an attractive alternative.

Its porn today and the end of civilisation as we know it tomorrow!  Or that’s what some will have us believe.

The fact is that we seem to treat pornography entirely differently from any other influences, industries and forms of expression in our society.  It is often whipped up with doom and gloom stories and tied, inextricably, to emotional responses that allow all sense of rationale to fly out the nearest open window, or, failing that, the minutest of cracks in the wall.

So, in an effort to try and put some degree of rationale on what is too often disproportionate and hypocritical scare-mongering that could so easily be voiced by the “WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!” lady from The Simpsons, I have compiled a short list (yes, another one of Bendy’s lists – as someone on Ask.fm accused me of doing too frequently) of myth-busting and sanity-inducing statements to, hopefully, reassure you that the end is not quite nigh just yet:

“Pornography is…”  

Well, what exactly?  Saying ‘pornography’ and believing that it is one homogenous thing, is like saying ‘religion’ (there he goes again!) and believing that the grey-haired, cake-making, WI member who attends her local CofE village church every Sunday is the same as a suicide bomber in Fallujah.

The fact is, they are worlds apart in many ways, except for the fact that they both believe, or purport to believe, in a supernatural entity called ‘God/Allah’.

When it comes to pornography, there is a plethora of material ranging simply from displays of human flesh to penetrative sex and yes, on the extreme of the scale, to acts that some would describe as violent.  (When I refer to ‘pornography’ I am speaking of legal pornography within the United Kingdom – much like I am referring to recognised religions, not cults, when I speak of ‘religion’).  The media, and those who are anti-porn (whatever it is they are actually ‘anti’) will frequently have you believe that it is all one thing.   It is not.  At its simplest definition, ‘pornography’ is the visual or literary portrayal of acts of a sexual nature.  But that is all that all ‘pornography’ really shares in common.

You wouldn’t blame a wine connoisseur for the binge-drinking epidemic.

There is a certain snobbery in our country around the wine culture and those people who might call themselves ‘wine connoisseurs’.  It is perceived to be  a real skill and an indication of refinement within our culture.  I have never heard anyone lay the blame for the thousands of young people who go binge drinking every weekend, often crowding our A&E departments, at the doors of the sophisticats we know as ‘wine connoisseurs’.  Perish the thought!

Yet, however you put it, these people are consuming a drug, one that the Independent Science Committee deemed to be the most dangerous of all substances, licit and illicit.  Wine, beer, spirits, alco-pops, they are all a poison that your body does not need.  Taken in excess, alcohol has PROVEN negative side effects on both the individual and on society at large.  In too many cases, it can also be directly linked to deaths.  And yet, the wine connoisseurs of the middle and upper classes can happily sip, suck and spit on their poison, sound in the knowledge that because THEY are able to regulate their intake, they will never be blamed for the suffering of others who cannot, or choose not to.

True, I hear you say, but you might blame individual alcohol companies now and then for products and pricing structures attempting to appeal to the young and most vulnerable.  And yet, when it comes to pornography, yet again, we see quite a different set of rules.

All pornographers, whether performers or producers alike, are usually tarnished with the same brush.  We are ALL responsible for those individuals who may, or may not (because nothing has yet been proven when it comes to porn), suffer negative side effects from consuming it.

While the director of Cobra beer might receive a Lordship for his role in the alcohol industry, which is obviously entirely blameless for any negative repercussions on an individual’s life, we have yet to witness a porn producer receiving similar acclaim for services to the British economy and sexual expression.

– You were / are a BAD role model for our children.

OK, so maybe I have a personal gripe here.  But I have heard it on more than several occasions and the level of hypocrisy here continues to baffle me.

Let me remind you that there are NO PROVEN NEGATIVE EFFECTS from the consumption of pornography.  None whatsoever.  I am not saying that there cannot be, but that none can yet be proven.  Sure, that is not a glowing praise for pornography, of course not.  But just bear that in mind as I rant on.

While the idea that an adult who is a teacher and who also chooses, in their own time (yes, OUTSIDE of the classroom) to participate in a legal activity which is participated in by consenting legal individuals which produces a product for the consumption of legal ADULTS which has currently no proven negative side effects whatsoever is utterly reprehensible in the minds of many, they would take no umbridge in the knowledge that their child is taught by people who, through their own actions and choices, indulge in activities that are life threatening and, in some cases, DIRECTLY so, for young people.

Are we really saying that someone who chooses to consume vast amounts of calories beyond their body’s needs, knowing that obesity is DIRECTLY attributable to DEATH, can be held up as a ‘role model’ more so than someone who performs in pornography?  That a teacher who takes a few puffs on a cigarette at break time and then breathes the toxins over your child during the following period, knowing the huge amount of DEATHS DIRECTLY LINKED to both smoking and passive smoking, is a better ‘role model’ for your children than someone who is comfortable exploring the various avenues of human sexual expression for other people to consume and enjoy?

I’m not saying these people cannot be role models in some ways, but don’t have one rule for one and another for something else.  This is nothing but total misplaced and disproportionate hypocrisy of the grandest scale!  And why?  Because its porn, of course.  D’uh!

– God forbid, my kids might see you naked or having sex!

You know what, despite the fact we know they shouldn’t, they might indeed tune in and see me being naked on screen or having sex in a porn film.

Is seeing anyone in their most natural state doing something which is, undoubtedly, one of the most natural activities, irrespective of the age of the viewer, something that I, or anyone else should be ashamed of?   Should I not be far more ashamed if a young person caught me sipping a glass or wine, chomping on a bag of chips or puffing on a cigarette?

While I can understand that some types of pornography may carry mixed and/or wrong messages, is the simple act of viewing human nudity or sexual intercourse really posing any danger or threat to anyone, including children?  We deem it perfectly acceptable to view animals in all their glory and gawp at them during coital action in the name of ‘scientific research’ or ‘nature documentaries’ and don’t believe that this is something that children should be protected from.  What, and more crucially, WHO are we really protecting here?  Is it really the children who should be growing up in a society that does not estrange sexuality from part of the human experience at any stage or are we actually protecting the many adults, including amongst them the parents and teachers, who lack the confidence and ability to broach the topic with the openness, relevance and maturity that any truly civilised society should be capable of doing?

– It’s the violent and rape porn I don’t like.

And, you know what?  Nor do I.

But its not the porn I don’t like, it the violence and the rape.

Funnily enough, I don’t tolerate violence or rape in any medium.  Which is why I have little tolerance for such activities as boxing and wrestling.  But, yet again, I don’t tarnish all sports with the same brush.  I recognise that while violence may exist within some sports, it is the principle of VIOLENCE that I oppose and not the fact that it is a sport.

So, there you go.  A few statements that so many often band around without taking the moment to think about the, as is so often the case, hypocrisy of their ill-considered statements.  So, next time you decide to jump on that band wagon, just take a brief step back and ask yourself – is this really what I mean to say and, if I do, am I consistent in my opinion?

Most importantly, hopefully its made you realise that, as a result of the proliferation of pornography in recent years, the end is not quite as nigh as some may have you believe.  At least, its certainly not any nearer because of the porn.

Cock shots are not cool (nor are pussy pics).

BRITAIN-GERMANY-ARTS-SCULPTURE

Last week I made the decision (mistake?) of downloading an app called ‘SnapChat’ to my newly purchased Samsung S4.  More than anything, I was curious to know what all the fuss was about.  While it can be mildly amusing at times, I can see how it can become easily addictive and be another reason that individuals waste more time ‘snapchatting’ about their lives than actually getting on with them.

Gail Dines, one of the most vocal anti-porn feminists that I faced in my first university debate at the Cambridge Union, will tell you that most technological advances are driven by the porn industry through man’s increasing desire to be able to most effectively watch and record sex.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s a lot to thank the porn industry for!  Whether or not pornography is the driving force behind various developments in technology, one thing seems apparent – that whenever you create a way for individuals to connect and share pictures, cock shots will always make an appearance!

What is it about men and their penises?  It has always puzzled me why some think so highly of their cocks.  To be honest, I don’t find them particularly attractive.  Sure, I regularly get naked for my work, but that is not because I believe I have an amazing penis and that the world needs to see it, but because, firstly, I have no qualms with nudity and, secondly, I present my genitals along with the rest of my body.  I recognise that the male form in all its naked glory can be a striking thing – this is what I strive for.  But a shot of a cock in all its lonesome ‘glory’, I have never understood the appeal of.

So, why then, do various men take it upon themselves to solicit me with uninvited pictures of their penises?  Send me one of your body and I can marvel at your physical achievements and the work you may (or, more often, may not) have put into it. Send me one of your cock, and you’re liable to make me vomit within my own mouth.

You see, the difference between me doing pornography, having a pornographic website and other related profiles, is that those things are for people who CHOOSE to seek them out.  I NEVER sent anything of an ‘adult’ nature, to individuals who haven’t CHOSEN to see it.  People choose, and often pay, to see my porn.  I’d rather not have random pictures of various men’s penises inflicted upon me, thank you very much.

For a long time, I have advertised my ‘adult’ services through a profile on a website.  It amazes me how the vast majority of men of that site will have, as their main profile picture, simply a photo of their penis.  I mean, what does that really tell you about that person apart from the fact that (hey, here’s a surprise!) they have a penis?  As a prospective customer, it tells me nothing of the overall package and of the services they offer.  If anyone selects any of these service providers simply based on a shot of their cock, I would be enormously surprised.

Rifle through the hundreds of profiles of female service providers on the same website and you’d be hard pushed to find any pussy pictures.  That I can guarantee.  Most women seem to understand that we are not simply a body of parts, but a whole body.  Let me also state, whilst on the subject, I am equally against the unsolicited sending of pussy pics too.  So please don’t think this is simply an attack on my fellow men.  It is not.

I have never, in my entire life, posted a cock shot.  Sure, you can find many pictures of me with my penis out all over the internet.  But in that picture you will also usually see most of my body and often my face.  If there are close-up shots, they are taken by photographers and usually depict (trying my best not to sound too crude) my member inside one, or other, orifice of the lady I happen to be performing alongside.  The idea of simply sending someone a picture of my chap had never occurred to me and is, still now, something I have never the intention of doing.

On Monday, BBC Woman’s Hour will be asking “Where can we find all the penises?”.  I am sure it has been prompted by this recent video http://www.upworthy.com/think-seeing-a-little-male-nudity-on-tv-is-too-explicit-then-its-time-to-hear-the-hard-truth .  Having shown my penis on both national TV (once, by mistake, in Spain and once in a documentary on Channel 4) and in the cinema film ‘The Knot’, I am certainly doing my bit to rectify the ‘problem’.  Of course, I do recognise that breasts are increasingly ‘everywhere’ and that todgers are hard (excuse the pun) to find.   However, breast tissue, attached, as it is, to your chest muscle, is not the equivalent of a man’s genitals – the CHEST is.  If the question is, “where are the penises?”, surely the answer is:  “where the vaginas are”.

A fellow campaigner and worker in the erotic field pointed out to me that the similarity is more about the response that can be illicited.  That men react to breasts in the same way that women can react to penises.  I think she’s right.  But consider this:  there would have been a time when seeing naked male torsos all over the media would have been considered taboo.  We have now been subjected to decades of seeing Mr.Atlases and Olympias striking a pose, models like Tyson Beckford on our billboards, singers like Marky Mark and Peter Andre stripped to their pants on their albums and in their concerts, every soap opera having its hunk who regularly has reason to remove his t-shirt, magazines like Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness covered with the photoshop enhanced and airbrushed physiques of perfectly toned fitness models, not to mention the crappy gossip mags filled with ‘torsos of the week’ or another papped shot of a celeb bronzing himself on the beach.  We have become so used to the semi-naked male and his bare pectorals, we rarely batter an eyelid nowadays.  Why do we complain that the tabloids have a topless woman on their third page and that lad’s mags should be removed from our supermarkets because they are offending the women who have to view them, when countless men’s nipples can be easily viewed on every shelf for anyone of any age to view? – teen mags, boxing mags, wrestling mags, pop mags, film mags and the list goes on – take your pick!

Maybe the call for cock from some females (and undoubtedly males as well) is simply a sign that the attention is once again shifting back to the male.  That breasts have become, thankfully, accepted.  OK, we can’t quite yet claim those of an anglo-saxon heritage have attained the maturity of most of our European counterparts who do see female breasts virtually no differently that those of their male counterparts to the extent that you can easily see them in daytime adverts for shower creams, in ‘normal’ magazines and on every beach in the summer months, but maybe, just maybe, we’re getting there.  We now embrace the exposed pectorals of every buff adonis who chooses to show them, women’s breasts are being gradually accepted and celebrated as ‘normal’ however they wish to be flaunted – whether in bra or out, maybe now its the turn of the cock!

Either way, whatever hypothesis may be true and irrespective of the trends of our developing  acceptance of human nudity, sending a cock shot (or a pussy pic) is never cool.  Unless you’re invited to do so, please refrain.  Thanking you kindly.

Johnnies in La-La Land

condompile
So the city of Los Angeles has voted 9-1 in favour of making condom use in any pornography produced within the city’s limits mandatory.
Am I the only one in Pornland who doesn’t think this is such a bad move?   Pointless, perhaps, but not bad.
To be fair, my citizenship of Pornland has been rather questionable recently and feels like it might be revoked any time soon.  I haven’t appeared in any productions for several months (except my own, of course).  This may have something to do with the fact that I no longer reside in London or it could possibly be because I have become somewhat vocal about my views on condoms in porn.
Not that anyone is taking much notice of me.    I mean, I’ve only really made a name for myself as the ‘porn star teacher’.  Prior to that, the only thing I apparently had going for me, as producers often told me, was my looks and my physique (which doesn’t really say an awful lot about the quality of ‘talent’ in the British porn industry), oh, and some mention of my penis being a decent size too.  Believe me, I certainly was not used for my amazing sexual prowess or my astounding abilities as a solid porn performer because, as I’m the first to admit, I am no such thing.
As a former teacher of, amongst other things, sex education and as someone who has worked in pornography and been openly criticised for not ‘practicing what I preach’ by not always performing using protection, I do however hold an opinion that some want to hear and many others wish to contest.
When I first performed in pornography, I worked for a company that proudly claimed to strictly produce condom-only videos.  I remember quite distinctly the director stating that the fear of compromising the health of his performers and the possibility of law suits following such unfortunate, although slim, possibilities, just wasn’t worth pursuing a ‘bareback’ route, even though many others in the market had already gone there.
A year or so later, this company seemed to have brushed its formerly held strong opinions aside and made the decision to join the rest of the market by requiring that their male performers no longer wear protection.
Was I a little taken aback by this decision?  Yes, indeed I was.
Did I question in my own mind whether or not I should carry on performing in pornography?  Yes, indeed I did.
And yet, I carried on.
One could argue that if I felt so strongly that I should have the courage of my convictions and stand up to non-condom using production companies by refusing to work with them.   If I had done this, believe me, my porn ‘career’ would have taken a pretty fast nose-dive.   (I can already hear some amongst you utter the words: “Yes.  So?”).
Sure, if I had stopped back in 2004, who knows whether I would be in the position I am now.  Arguably, I am in a far more advantageous position to have, at least, some influence, because I stuck with the porn, than if I’d given up back then.   Indeed, I certainly wouldn’t have been in the newspapers,  on the radio or TV, seeing as the porn I did back then was not the porn that my ex-students discovered and led me to getting the sack.  I would have resigned from teaching in 2010, as I originally had planned, and slipped off quietly into the sunset to the house in Herault that I was planning on buying.  Alas, for right or wrong, this never happened.
Now, however small it may be, I have some clout.  Not a lot, but more than if I’d never barebacked before.
You see, I’m not entirely against ‘bareback’ pornography in principle.Ideally, I would wish that all pornography did promote and use condoms.  However, much like teaching, I believe the main function of pornography is not to preach.  As a teacher, my role was to inform.  As a form of entertainment, the role of pornography is to provide enjoyment for its viewer, while, in my opinion, taking some efforts to be conscious of the power it holds and the messages it can, at times, convey.
I believe that the use of contraception should be a choice.    If it is the choice of the performers (all performers involved) to not use protection and all parties have been tested, then I believe that is their choice.
However, the choice should be the performers’ and not the production company’s.  The problem exists however when that choice is taken away from the performer.  When I was hired by a company to appear in their production, the only real choice I had was to perform without a condom or not perform at all, thereby forgoing the job and any financial recompense along with it, not to mention jeopardising the possibility of gaining any work in the future.  This is not a real choice.
There are some in the industry who would argue that the current measures requiring sexual health screening every 30 days is adequate enough and, bearing in mind that, for many performers, this is their job, their sole source of income, it is in their interest to maintain an impeccable and clean sexual health record, otherwise no work and, therefore, no money.  Unfortunately, however, as reliable as some within the industry are, I am not always so trusting of everyone (be they porn ‘stars’ or otherwise).  Between each 30 day test, performers can, of course, contract an STI that would not show on a certificate.  One of the biggest flaws of these tests, is the fact that HIV has an incubation period of three weeks.  This means that, even if contracted, HIV would not show on any test during this period.  The porn industry in the UK will point to the fact that there has never been any case of HIV contracted by a performer (not so the case for other ‘lesser’ STIs), but this does not negate the possibility existing or being elevated by the lack of condom use.
Some pornographers will also claim that, even in the USA, cases of HIV contraction within the industry have been so small as to cause any real concern.  In any other industry in the developed world, the fact that there are any deaths (or inevitable deaths) would be reason enough for its practices to be re-examined and, in many cases, tougher regulation introduced.  Why should pornography be exempt?
Some pornographers will identify difficulties with working with condoms: that they make maintaining an erection hard (or not, as the case may be), they break and tear and frequently dry up, causing filming to be longer and, inevitably, more awkward.  These things are all true.  Whoever said that maintaining health and safety standards was meant to be easy?  These are obstacles that are not impossible to overcome and should, with a producer and performer of a ‘professional’ standard, simply be part of the job.  For some porn houses in LA who churn out the same formulaic drivel (blowjob, position 1, 2, 3, cumshot) each and every day, the adding of several minutes to their conveyer belt of boring smut, whether it potentially prevents infection, saves lives and (god forbid), in the process, sends out a positive message, is obviously something that they simply could not tolerate.  Sympathy much, anyone?
I did, and still do, porn because I enjoy it.   It was never primarily for the money because I always had other jobs at the same time.  I don’t always agree with everything associated with pornography, but I will always fight for the principle of a society to make and enjoy sexual intercourse as a form of art and entertainment.  For some individuals, pornography is their main, or only source, of income for a period of their life.  The idea of turning to a producer and insisting on the use of condoms is just not realistic in the current climate where condoms just aren’t, apparently (although I see no evidence), what the audience like to see.  Indeed, the only time I have been required to wear condoms on a porn set since the early days of my ‘career’, were on the occasions that a girl I was to be performing with was unable to produce a valid sexual health certificate and it was too late to rearrange the shoot.
The reality is, that for performers within heterosexual pornography in this country, and in much of the world, there really isn’t much, if any, choice.  The only choice is in the hands of the producers who seem to be voting with their bank accounts (because they believe that condom porn just doesn’t sell) and not with their concern (if they have any) for the health and safety of their performers.
This is nothing new.  Since when has any industry shown any concern for the health and wellbeing of its employees unless it has been forced to do so?  Pornographers are no less or more immoral than any other money-hungry fat cat in any other sector of our capitalist society?
I have no problem with elements of risk.  We encounter risk every day in our lives.  Indeed some of the most enjoyable activities involve varying degrees of risk.  Some people pay vast sums of money in pursuit of sometimes the most risky of these activities (bungee jumping, sky-diving, formula 1 racing, shark watching, etc).  While the element will always remain, it is the responsibility of all parties involved to ensure they do absolutely everything within their power to place the health and safety of all participants at the highest degree they possibly can while still, of course, allowing the activity and enjoyment to go ahead.  While pornographers neglect to permit their performers to make a real choice about their own sexual health and safety, they cannot claim to be doing everything they possibly can not to be putting the lives of the people they employ to sell their product at a real risk of contracting a virus or infection that could, ultimately, render them infertile or dead.
While I may carry some concerns about the limitations on rights and the extent to which anyone or any organisation is coerced into an action, I actually commend the LA city council for standing up for the safety and wellbeing of individual performers who want to be able to work within pornography while equally want to stay as safe as they possibly can, but who might otherwise feel powerless against the corporate pornographic machine to do anything about it.
So, the fact that Los Angeles has now taken the choice away from the porn producer is a step in the right direction even though, as some will argue, it is at the expense of his constitutional rights.   However, I think the idea that porn companies, after now feeling bullied into using contraception by their city council, won’t take steps to ensure nothing hinders them from continuing their journey on a bareback obsessed bandwagon, is a tad optimistic.   I fear that it will ultimately have no effect whatsoever on the industry at large, except causing the relocation of companies to addresses outside of the city limits.  To those of us who do not reside in the ‘spiritual homeland’ of the porn industry, this will mean and change nothing.
One might have hoped that if pornographers were to put more imagination and effort into their productions, the fact that the male talent is wearing a thin layer of transparent latex should really make no difference to the viewer’s overall enjoyment.   I’ve always known that I’m a bit odd, but am I really the only one who gets greater enjoyment out of watching good quality, well shot, beautifully thought-out and protected sex on screen rather than close-ups of an anonymous, body-less, bareback cock ramming away for twenty minutes?
From the first time I started viewing porn, I’ve always reminded myself that I’m watching someone’s daughter or son.  In some ways, this is how I’ve justified my own involvement: if you’re happy watching other people’s kids doing it, then you should have no problem with doing it yourself or knowing your own children do it.  I don’t have a problem.  Equally, I don’t have a problem watching people who have chosen to become boxers.  However, the moment they start punching each other in the head with no gloves, that’s when my enjoyment and the entertainment value becomes secondary to my concern for their well-being.  Or, yet again, am I really the only one who cares?  Do we really value human life and the safety and security of it so little that, as long as we’re getting off on it, nothing else really matters?
Of course, this is capitalism, we’re all getting fucked by it in some way or another and, even if its not always directly responsible for our deaths, tends to have, for the majority of us, a habit of killing our dreams and suffocating our spirit, at some point along the way.  At least for porn ‘stars’, we’re getting fucked by getting fucked,  which , in some ways, is the best, or even better than, we could hope for.

Another win for pornography

histtrinity

Yesterday, I made another appearance as an invited guest at a university debate. This time, members of The Hist society of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, had to decide whether the believed that ‘pornography damages society’.

Both sides, made up of student and guest speakers, made some excellent and valid contributions, but the opposing team made up of myself and Jessi Fischer, one of my co-speakers of the winning team at Cambridge Union Society debate on porn, came out as clear victors as members of The Hist voted against the motion.
Yet again students of one of the world’s most elite educational institutions (and this time in a land that has been so dogged by religious control and indoctrination for decades) has demonstrated that pornography is not damaging to our society. Once again the voice of reason wins through!