Big Brother & Male Strippers unzipped

Big Brother

For the best part of a year, I had been aware that one of my former Dreamboys colleagues, Lotan Carter, was probably going to be entering this year’s Big Brother show on Channel 5.  As a former BBUK contestant myself, from the 13th series, I am frequently asked about the experience and whether I would recommend applying.  Had Lotan asked me my honest opinion about whether it was a good idea, my response would have been: absolutely not.

Male strippers are simply people.  Normal people who do, perhaps, a rather unusual job with a controversial perception and position in society.  But they are normal people nonetheless.  They have their plus sides, they have their down sides, their good days and their bad.  However, as someone who has both been a male stripper and spent a large chunk of his time in public debates and forums defending the adult entertainment industry in all its facets, I feel a certain responsibility to address some of the issues that have arisen from recent events in the Big Brother house with an honesty that few are prepared to admit.

It is not my intention to comment on the specifics of the events of last weekend nor target any one individual.  While the events that unravelled involving Lotan have prompted me to address certain issues, the observations  and experiences I share here could, and do, apply to many within the industries of which I discuss, namely male stripping and reality TV.  Plus, I don’t really watch Big Brother anyway, so am ill-equipped to focus on what either did, or did not, go down in the house.

Male strippers are normal people, but they exist in a world of hypers:  hyper-sexuality, hyper-gender and hyper-egos.  We all are affected by these subject matters in all our lives, but strippers (male and female) face them in an overly ‘in-your-face’ manner.  Some of us in the industry are able to tackle them head on, employ restraint and keep things in a certain perspective.  Others, however, are not and become victims of their own perceived ‘success’.

I am sure there are people for whom entering a reality TV show like Big Brother is a harmless social experiment and fun experience.  But such people are rarely the sort of people that producers want on their program.  They are hungry for ratings and news – placid, passive, peace-loving housemates are rarely the sort of people that hit the headlines and make for explosive and entertaining television.

This blog is meant to offer a critique and an insight into the worlds of both reality TV (through the experience of a Big Brother contestant) and male stripping and how, when the two collide, rarely result in a harmonious union.  Moreover, it is an examination into the psyches, motives and behaviours of those who become male strippers and why, unless these are all put into some level of perspective, can lead to a self-destructive path that is only amplified, often exacerbated, by the ratings-hungry reality TV producer.  I also hope to be able to offer some advice which, while focusing on my male stripper colleagues, is also applicable to men, and, to a lesser extent, women generally who are considering a dose of reality TV ‘fame’.

 

UNZIPPING MALE STRIPPERS

I love to meet people who surprise me.  Who break the mould.  Challenge stereotypes.  Butch men who are nurses, petite women who are truck drivers, white guys who can jump, black guys who can swim.  Its always refreshing to know generalisations are just that: general.  There are always those who are the exceptions and who dare to stand up to the pre-described roles that society often imposes.

No-one enters the world of male stripping thinking they will be mixing with the intelligentsia and intellectuals, but to believe that strippers are all brain-dead muscle-heads is unfair and inaccurate.  Of course, there are many who are predictably shallow, egotistical, narcissists who are stereotypically employed as personal trainers, labourers or firemen outside of their stripping hours.  But I have also worked with people who are intelligent, articulate, considerate and respectful, who have degrees, are qualified pediatricians, work in social services managing children’s homes, run cleaning businesses, are civil servants, professional actors, trained dancers and ballerinas, or, like me, have been teachers.

The role of a male stripper is a pretty simple one.  It is to entertain, to titillate, to provide laughs, smiles and a little shock value along the way.

In my opinion, the best male strippers often, though not always, come from a performance background, such as professional dancers, acrobats, actors, etc.   They are able to create a show that follows a narrative, contains ups and downs, humour, sensuality, passion and is reflective of their individual personality.  Ultimately, it should be more about the audience, making them happy, getting them involved, than catering to the ego of the performer.

Most importantly, the very best male strippers can stay grounded, keep things in perspective and maintain a level of humility at all times.

Unfortunately, many guys get swept up and caught in the trappings and temptations of the job and elements that accompany it.

To understand male strippers, you need to understand where they’ve come from, what’s motivated them to enter the industry and what makes them stay.

 

Sexuality

Human sexuality is complex.  We all have our individual journeys on the road to discovery.  Sometimes it can be confusing.

Male strippers are immersed in a world of sexual extremes, where one minute women are, sometimes literally, throwing themselves at them and begging to sleep with them, while, on the other, comparing and admiring each other’s toned, naked physiques while wanking off or pumping-up their dicks in full view in the dressing rooms.

If there are ever doubts in his mind, stripping re-enforces the notion that a male stripper already attempts to concoct in his own head, that he is appealing to the opposite sex, that women do want him, adore him and lust after him.  It demonstrates to the outside world (for public re-enforcement of a private matter is important for their public image and perception) that he must be ‘straight’ by sheer virtue of the fact that he loves working for, and around, thousands of women who pine after every ripped muscle in his oiled-up body.  This obviously ignores the fact that many male strippers also often work in gay clubs, at gay events and usually have a large male fan base too.

Some strippers are openly ‘gay’, if not with the fans, at least amongst their colleagues, but a significant number are openly dishonest (perhaps due to their own confusion or lack of security in their own sexuality), but privately curious about their sexuality.

I know of male strippers who describe themselves as ‘straight’, who have advertised on Grindr (the gay dating app), provided escort services to male clients, been sucked off by a drag queen and I have witnessed one stripper performing oral on another.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you will know my view on sexuality.  I ascribe to none, but ‘human’, as pretentious as some may deem this to be.  I do not attempt to operate under the pretence of one pigeon-holed sexual preference, while harbouring feelings that are often allotted in the other.  But strippers are not alone in society at strictly sticking to pre-described sexual identities and they are, perhaps more than most, afraid of the repercussions of admitting anything other than the heterosexual norm that the world still, by and large, expects, particularly from these ‘uber-men’ who sign up to the rigid male stripper stereotype.

 

Ego

Is it any wonder that strippers are often accused of having inflated egos?  On an almost daily occurrence, if not in person, via social media, you receive flattering comments and come-ons (some eloquent, many damn-right blunt and rude) from women, men (‘gay’, ‘straight’, ‘bi’ and ‘curious’), men pretending to be women, husbands and partners wanting you to do all manner of things with their wives and girlfriends and, on the odd occasions, even some who describe themselves as ‘lesbians’ have been known to make a move.

Most of us, in the real world, realise, it is horses for courses.  Different people like different things.  Many people find male strippers repulsive.  If not only physically, they consider it immoral and those who would do it, mentally repugnant.  For those who attend strip-shows, different people like different things.  What we as individuals find attractive is entirely subjective.  But strippers do not entirely operate in the ‘real’ world.  They exist in a world of continual flattery, where, if they are unable to put this into a perspective, can fool themselves into believing that this is how everyone thinks or, at least, should think and, if they don’t, then there must be something wrong with them.

 

Alpha male

The world of male stripping is an environment of hyper masculinity.  Where the idea of a proper ‘man’ stems more from Marvel super heroes than the real male role models around us.

It is a highly competitive and physically obsessed environment.  Brains count for little, pure brawn is king.  It is a constant battle to be the best looking, the most popular, have the biggest biceps, the tightest abs and the largest dick.

This is no place for the weak or self-conscious.  Or so you would think.  Yet, the irony is that these men are often the most self-conscious of all, hiding behind the bravado, the ego, the arrogance of a fluffed-up peacock.  The slabs of muscle create a shield, sometimes a buffer to deflect the inner conflicts between the real them and the outside world.  These ‘men’ are often little more than pumped-up boys seeking reassurance, lacking self-confidence, escaping pasts of bullying, homophobia (sometimes abuse), often lacking male role models in their own childhoods.  It is these factors that sometimes drive these men to desire for physical change, to take the first steps of entering a gym and beginning the transformation of their bodies in an attempt to mould and create what they believe is their image of a perfect man, more often influenced by childhood idols, celebrities and, of course, photo-shopped imagery from across the media.

In some ways, male strippers are men who never really grew out of the boyish perception of a what a man should be.  While most men adapt to daily life and their shifting priorities of work, family, relationships, learning to accept the limits of life in the real world, and recognising that real manhood is not defined by, and certainly not limited to, the size of any body part or appendage, or the quantity of sexual conquests.

 

Perception of women

One of the ugly sides of stripping is the attitude towards women that is frequently expressed by many.  It is often fraught with disrespectful and derogatory language about women, frequently the customers, sometimes directly abusive or harassing in nature.  Its also true that sometimes the women attending stripping shows can be pretty vile:  drunk, aggressive, occasionally even violent – the trend of scratching strippers’ backs I will never understand nor tolerate.

Indeed, some strippers lack respect for the women because they attend strip shows, seeing this as a reflection of their loose morals, as much as it is on their own for being strippers.  This is certainly not grounded in any degree of truth, as a huge range of women attend strip shows or hire strippers for a variety of reasons, and, of course, the hypocrisy is so glaringly obvious as to be offensive to anyone with with even the most limited of brain activity.  But the one rule for him and another for her is a running theme amongst male strippers (as it is amongst men generally), who extend their striving for adonis-like perfection from simply the physical to the delusion of achieving God-like status amongst their fans and ‘worshippers’.

Many strippers, just as many of their civilian male counterparts, are on a continual voyage of conquest of the opposite sex.  But being a stripper has the ability of turning what can usually be an on-going, tortuous battle to woo and commandeer the object of your infatuation, to an effortless capitulation.  The number of times I have been stuck on a minibus, on a tour coach or in a dressing room, listening to groups of male strippers going on about “pussy this” and “pussy that”, their perpetual ‘hunt for pussy’ and their gloating over the details of each victim and the pounding they endured.  A boundless lust for females, or their genitals at least, that could easily be subdued with a bit of hand relief, but usually results in sneaking girls into toilets or alleys for a quick suck or fuck.

 

Dating

Which brings me onto another relevant area of consideration… the concept of dating a male stripper.

Again, I must stress, there are male strippers who have maintained long-term and committed relationships.  Strippers are no more immune to the complications of human intimacy and relationships than anyone else, but the unique nature of their chosen area of work makes certain pit-falls more likely to occur.

As a general rule, my answer to anyone, be it a male stripper, or someone considering being with one is:  honesty is key.

If only male strippers could be completely honest about the work they do and the way they behave and that any potential ‘date’ be completely honest with themselves about what they really want from a relationship.

We all crave physical attention and close bonding with others at times.  But be honest about what, at this stage in your life, you are after and what you are able to, realistically – particularly considering the work and lifestyle you maintain, and the temptations that accompany them – provide and maintain.  In most cases, I would advise steering clear of anything resembling a traditional relationship.

If you want to sleep around and casually date, then do so.  Nothing wrong with that at all, in my opinion at least.  But be honest about it.  Don’t lie to yourself or someone else and dupe yourself into believing that you can hold down a long-term, committed, traditional relationship, while knowing full well that the distractions and attractions of the vices of the stripping world are too strong to ignore.

If it is an open relationship you seek, then perfect.  Then find someone who feels the same.  Be up-front about your desires and intentions, then they too can make up their mind.  Some women are happy to explore open relationships, to pursue a more liberal and experimental sexual and romantic lifestyle.  That’s great.  If this is the type of relationship you crave, then be pro-active in seeking out people of a similar mindset, at sex clubs, swinger’s sites and hedonistic organisations, for example.  Don’t deceive a naive hen night partygoer into the delusion of a traditional relationship, which you know, full well, you will not be able to commit to.

If its a one-night-stand you want.  Perfect.  If its a casual relationship you want.  Perfect.  If its a fuck buddy.  Perfect.  Its not the lifestyle that is the problem, its the lies that attempt to hide these intentions behind the cover of ‘romance’ and commitment that continue to perpetuate the stereotype of male strippers being womanising, disrespectful, egotistical pigs.

 

Roids and Rage

Almost all strippers have been, or are on, steroids.

I make no moral judgements about drugs.  I personally believe all drugs should be decriminalised.  While there is the argument about wasting police resources, time and prison space, I fundamentally believe that what we, as informed individuals, decide to put in our bodies, should be our own choice.

A society that accepts alcohol and tobacco (not to mention caffeine, sugar and salt) as legal, normal and taxable narcotics that are freely available to the general public, possesses no moral high ground on the question of drugs.

All drugs carry positive and negative effects.  Of course, steroids ‘improve’ (at least in the minds of those using them) your physical appearance, they can also give you more energy, increase your libido and generally make you feel more confident.  Conversely, they carry health risks, can affect your fertility, and, in certain individuals, create what is often referred to as ‘roid’ rage.  For individuals prone to conflict, anger management issues and violence, this can lead to a toxic and potentially dangerous combination.

Then there’s the fights.  One juiced-up bonehead with a criminal record going head-to-head over the most banal of things with another equally as juiced-up bag of muscle that may, or may not, have a criminal record, but certainly sports an equal array of tattoo art up the length of both arms as the jailbird.

I’ve witnessed blood, punches, threats of violence, screaming and scrapping like typical idiot Brits abroad in the middle of a Dutch city or on a crowded minibus.  I’ve seen it all, and always, without exception, I am the one attempting to resolve and calm the situation.  Without doubt, it is true to say I have witnessed worse behaviour from adult male strippers (many parents themselves!) than I ever encountered from teenage boys while I was a teacher.

 

Stripper Sensitivity

During my time with The Dreamboys, I developed the reputation of something of an ‘Agony Uncle’.  If not quite a shoulder to cry on, I was certainly someone some of the guys would turn to for support, advice and to share their problems and concerns.  After all, male strippers are just normal folk.

For the same reason I used to get great satisfaction from breaking through the tough exterior of many ‘bad boys’ when I was a high school teacher, beneath the rock-hard pecs, there usually is a heart, but sometimes its broken or breaking, and men, even the most sensitive, often have difficulties admitting it, let alone showing it.

We shouldn’t excuse the shortfalls of male strippers, but we shouldn’t throw them on the scrapheap either.

While being a stripper can sometimes help you to confront these issues, too often it can enhance and worsen them.

I am certainly a more comfortable and confident version of me.  But is stripping solely responsible for this?  I doubt it, but it certainly forced me to face some of my ‘demons’ head on.  Had I perhaps been younger when I started (I was 29), more easily led or maybe even less of a conscientious and considerate individual brought up by two wonderful, decent individuals, then maybe things might have turned out differently and gone in another direction.

 

BIG BROTHER

It can be a stressful and testing time living with anyone: parents, siblings, friends and even our lovers.  Dumping a complete load of strangers in a confined space with no access to the outside world, music, TV, books, for an undefined period and with TV cameras watching you 24/7, is bound to be challenging to almost anyone.

There are therefore very few people to whom I would genuinely say “sure, go on Big Brother, you’d be great!”.  For most people, the experience is unlikely to be the most sensible of life choices and may indeed carry detrimental outcomes, if not in the long-term, at least the short.

The idea, regularly touted, that you can ‘play the game’ or pretend to be anything other than yourself is a myth.  Eventually, the truth will out or you’ll slip up and the normal ‘you’ will always make an appearance.

For the first two weeks of my time in the Big Brother house, I was accused, by many viewers, of being bland and boring and of not taking up much air time.  If not causing arguments, creating conflict or being an airhead equates to being bland and boring, I take full ownership.

I had my own reasons for going on Big Brother.  Both Lotan and I had been approached by producers via Facebook.  This is not unusual.   I was not the first male stripper to enter the house and I doubt Lotan will be the last.   Personally, I thought being on the show would be a good platform, or platform at least, for raising debate and challenging perceptions, particularly about the sex industry, those involved in it and attitudes to sex generally.  I saw it as an extension of the work I had already been doing prior to entering the house.  Now, as much as the producers may have been enamoured by my ability to speak eloquently about the politics of sex, sexual identity or argue for the legalisation of prostitution, I’m pretty sure that the main reason they invited a male stripper/adult entertainer onto the show was for the possibility of lewd activity, if not full-blown live sex, and some potential conflict with other, perhaps more prudish, housemates.  Ratings, remember.  People want action, not talk!  Also, bearing in mind that Richard Desmond, owner of Channel 5, also had pornography channel, Television X, on his portfolio at the time, a bit of cross-promotion might not be such a bad marketing strategy.

Let’s face facts:  TV producers don’t really give one iota of a shit about you, your issues, your past or your future.  All they ultimately care about is their jobs – which is making TV shows that pull in the greatest possible numbers in order to generate the pounds from the advertisers, sponsors and telephone line revenues that pay their wages.

Endemol UK claims to be concerned about the calibre and welfare of its contestants by using the facade of psychologists, ticking the relevant boxes so as to cover their own legal arses, as part of the assessment process.  But really they pay lip service to the whole notion of maintaining the care and well-being, pre and post the show, of their numerous housemates.

In 2012, Lotan Carter entered the Big Brother house.   Yes, you read it right: in 2012.  No, not on live television, but as part of a trial house before the real series was due to air that summer.  On that trial, he was ejected from the house by security after starting a fight.  Despite this, he was asked to return as a housemate in the televised series in 2017.  Of course, people can change, mature, reform – I am certainly a slightly different person than I was 5 years ago.  But how accountable and responsible should the producers be when re-admitting someone on to a show they refused to allow in five years ago, only to see said contestant go and create the similar kind of security threat he posed the first time round?  I don’t really blame Lotan, he was simply being himself.  As I said, the real you always comes out of the woodwork at some point.

Big Brother housemates are real people.  But for several weeks and months a year, the viewer sees them as two-dimensional, almost cartoon-like, characters on their TV screens.  As viewers, we feel we have free licence to criticise, to take these people apart, to judge.   Through the lens of a camera, we bring them into our homes and lives and believe, based on 45 minutes of edited broadcast, that we know everything, and all we need to know, about them.  The contestants made the free choice to be on the show, knowing full-well its consequences, we therefore have every right, as viewers, to treat them as they deserve.  But for those who do make that decision, this is part of their real life.  Their lives will continue, whether they wish them to or not, after they have been ejected from their temporary Borehamwood residence and, in most cases, rejected, often brutally, by large numbers of the viewing public to rapturous boos, disappointment and, sometimes, hate.

This is exactly what the producers at Endemol want.  For them, its cheap and easy TV.  Where the only real cost is ultimately the lives of those who volunteer to become their victims, as no-one receives any fee for temporarily surrendering their daily existence to the whims and wills of a team of manipulative editors and producers.

 

CONCLUSION

This is not meant to be a scathing attack on anyone:  neither stripper nor even the producers of reality TV.  We are all adults.  We are all aware of our actions and those of others.  If we are not, its about bloody time we should be.

Both strippers and reality TV producers do jobs shrouded in controversy, founded on questionable moral bases.

This article is simply meant to provide an honest first-hand account of the world of stripping and reality TV for those who often have no understanding and are quick to judge, from someone who has been directly involved in both.

As a former stripper and adult entertainer, I am always the first to defend the industry and the rights of those who work within it.  This does not mean that I defend their every action and word.

Defending, articulating motives and possible explanations does not excuse misogyny, sexism, homophobia, aggression, abuse and violence.  The idea that ‘men will be men’ is predicated on the myth that all penis-owners are the same.  We are not.

Male strippers should perhaps after all, for want of a better word, be ‘admired’ for doing something that few have the balls to do.  Whether its stupidity or braveness, that is for you to decide, but, ultimately, they provide something that someone somewhere wants to see and pay for the privilege of doing do.

(On a personal note, I have never fully understood the appeal of seeing men in the ‘full monty’, watching an entirely naked man strutting around the stage is not usually the most flattering of visions.  I certainly believe that the male body can indeed be a work of art, but I tend to be of the school of thought that it is, at least, more classy and ‘sexy’ to leave something to the imagination.  Despite this, as a performer, I did, and do, go naked.  Not because I find my manhood a particularly wonderful sight to behold, but simply because I am not ashamed of it and don’t really care who sees it.  It is, after all, just a penis.)

You are probably reading this and wondering why I am so critical of strippers and reality TV contestants when I myself have been both.  Do I also ascribe some of these characteristics, motives and perceived flaws I outline to myself?  To which I respond, in all honesty, with:  of course I do.

I was bullied as a child, well into my teens, for multiple reasons, some of it with strongly homophobic-based abuse.  I have never been, and still am not, particularly confident when it comes to meeting women.  As a child I was terribly skinny and I think it is pretty obvious to admit that I probably do still suffer anxieties over my body image.  Despite what it may seem, I do frequently get nervous in social situations and meeting new people and, yes, I always get jitters before going on stage.

Nowadays, I am often perceived as being overly-confident, some say arrogant, but perception frequently conceals the reality that lurks below.  Despite (or perhaps because) of these reasons, I have been a performer for many years, acting, singing and (I use the term loosely) ‘dancing’, thereby hiding behind characters and personas, but too shy, until recent years, to simply be me.

Have I also succumbed to some of trappings and temptations of the male stripping world?  Indeed, I have.

I’ve done a range of drugs (legal and illegal), very occasionally to excess.  I’ve had casual sex with women (sometimes in multiples) from the audience, sometimes even at the club, simply because I could.  I am not perfect.  I have my vices.  I have my flaws.  I have my free-will and choices as an informed, independent adult.  It is not the fact of indulging in these behaviours that is the problem.  Male strippers can still ‘enjoy’ the indirect ‘benefits’ of the job, without allowing themselves to become deluded into believing this is how the world outside operates and thinks.  Anyone, not simply strippers, can explore the colourful sides of humanity, while still maintaining decorum, respect and humility.

There are therefore many things that I am not, or, at least, have not allowed myself to become, that I could so easily have been transformed into had I been less restrained.

I am not an aggressive person.  I have never been in a fight in my life.  In arguments, I can get a little passionate and occasionally become a somewhat more enflamed (ask my girlfriend), but generally I am calm and a pretty good listener.  I tend to be a peace-maker when conflict is threatening to arise.

I have no desire to talk endlessly about pussy and girls.  I enjoy sex.  I don’t need to go on and on about it.

I do not have a negative view of women.  On the contrary, most of my closest friends have usually been women.  I have a wonderful mother, some fantastic female cousins, an adorable niece and, to top it off, a truly amazing girlfriend.  Each of them, individually, can frustrate, irritate and annoy me at times, but not because they are women.

If you have read some of my previous posts, as stated, you will know I am pretty clear and open about my view of sexuality, including that of my own.  I have no problem in recognising the beauty and lust in and of either genders.

We are all responsible for our own behaviour.  Stripper or not.  While we might wish that TV companies produced more responsible programming or took greater care and diligence in their selection criteria and process, the fact is that they don’t and they won’t.

TV producers are amoral.

While they should be accountable for what they choose to broadcast and how they edit, they cannot fabricate something that didn’t happen.  Ultimately, the only person responsible for things that come out of your mouth or the actions and behaviours you express, is you.  If you think any TV producer is in the business of making you look good, hiding your faults and concealing your flaws, unless you’re paying them, think again.

While most of us are more than aware of our downsides and negatives, I would advise against exposing them for public consumption and in the name of entertainment in order to have them viewed, criticised and used against you, even if you have one of the most thickest of skins.

Having said that, my personal experience of appearing on Big Brother was largely positive.  Any negatives were negligible, predictable and manageable.  I found my time to be mostly enjoyable, relaxing and stress-free.  I did confront a couple of people about things that concerned or bothered me about them, their behaviour or attitude and, while voices may have become slightly raised, I think these discussions were predominantly restrained, controlled and civil, certainly not descending into the kinds of quarrels and conflicts we have frequently witnessed from other housemates in various series of Big Brother.

By and large, I believe I was far better prepared and able to adapt to life as a Big Brother contestant than most.  I had been a teacher and foster carer, dealing with conflict resolution, unsavoury attitudes and difficult personalities on an almost daily basis.  I had also already faced public condemnation from previous media appearances, appearing on TV and radio and being plastered all over the gutter press.  Perhaps, most importantly, I have never been in a fight in my entire life (excluding that one time I was asked to eject a drunkard from a party which, to my surprise, I did successfully).  I also went into Big Brother as a known stripper, porn ‘star’ and sexually open individual.  There was therefore very little the red tops could drag up against me.

None of us are perfect, we all have moments of exposing the more unsavoury sides of our personalities.  Usually, that is limited to the people around us and confined spaces and audiences.

It upsets me that anyone, particularly people I know and care for, especially younger people, would put themselves in a situation where the worst side of them gets the best of them.  Exploited by the TV channels, producers and press, desperate for ratings, readers and, in turn, advertising and sponsorship, to fund their comfortable salaries while you, the ‘non-celebrity’ contestant, are ill-equipped and inexperienced to deal with the onslaught from media and social media alike.  On top of this, Big Brother housemates receive no financial compensation, except payment of their expenses.  Not to make mention of the fact that housemates today are unlikely, these days, to benefit in any other way from their appearance.  On the contrary, some people lose their jobs, their relationships, their friends, many turn to depression, some to self-harm and even, occasionally, to suicide.

 

So, as a useful summary and in an attempt to answer the question “Should I apply for / go on Big Brother?”, whether male stripper or not, my first bit of advice would be to really think about your motives for doing so.  Is your presence there going to simply perpetuate a stereotype (yet another blond, bimbo from Essex, pumped-up arrogant male stripper or hot-headed rude boy from ‘da streets’) or will your presence attempt to change minds or create discussion?  From a personal perspective, if Big Brother is to serve any real purpose beyond being simply a vacuous, voyeuristic, soft porn, social experiment and viewer magnet for Channel 5, it should, at the very least, be a tool to offer some degree of social change, commentary and, maybe even, progress.  But maybe that is just the optimist in me speaking.

Perhaps, more importantly, if you still see yourself as next year’s Big Brother winner, please consider, very carefully, the following:

  • Are you under 30?
  • Do you have a job you don’t want to risk losing?
  • Do you have aspirations for a professional career?
  • Do you have a short temper?
  • Do you suffer anger management issues?
  • Do you have a shady past or aspects of your life you wouldn’t want exposed?
  • Do you suffer claustrophobia?
  • Do you get upset when someone is rude about, or criticises, you or any member of your family, including on social media?
  • Do you want to be famous?
  • Do you believe it will be a launchpad to a career in entertainment or the media?
  • Do you have body issues?
  • Do you harbour racist, sexist, misogynist, or homophobic views or tendencies?
  • Do you value your privacy?
  • Are you prone to depression, self harm or suicide attempts?
  • Do you worry about how your actions may affect your family or the perception of your family?

If you answered ‘YES’ to any of the above, take a long hard think about what is most important in your life and, then, perhaps, think again.

 

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.

Does ‘LGBTI’ celebrate diversity or cement division?

Recently, I expressed a concern around the use of the term ‘Straight Ally’ in reference to people who are ‘friends’ or ‘supporters of’ the LGBTI+ ‘community’.  It worries me that we are creating an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality when sexual and gender liberalism is something we should all be campaigning for whatever our sexual or gender identities and that nobody, or group, has a monopoly on this.
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It also feels to me that, in creating the term ‘Straight Ally’, we are creating clear distinctions around all those who fight for freedom of sexual and gender expression.  Demarkations being drawn between those who are either in the fight and those who are not in the fight, but supportive of those who fight it.  But the fight is everyone’s – whether gay, straight, bi, trans, intersex, cis or otherwise.
It was pointed out to me that “if you extrapolate that logic, haven’t you just talked yourself out of a job?  Surely the existence of an LBGT radio station also contributes to the perpetuation of the very thing you want to see gone?” (i.e. the creation of distinctions between one group, particularly along sexuality/gender lines, and others).
When I first expressed my concern around the term “straight ally” I had considered that someone may raise this point and ask the questions.  Indeed, I have asked myself these sorts of questions many times, particularly in the early stages of the development of the radio station that I established in order that I clarify, in my own, mind why an I motivated to establish it and what really am I creating?
Officially, Xpress Radio Scotland identifies itself as  ‘diversity’ station. In all our literature, we make it clear that our focus is the Scottish LGBTI ‘community’, but we are not limited to that in either our output or recruitment. We exclude no-one and never ask anyone how they choose to identify themselves.  
On a personal level, I am comfortable with none of those terms – ‘diversity’, ‘LGBTI (or any of its other hybrids) , or even ‘community’ (for what constitutes it really?), but they are buzz words/terms which are current and, by and large, understood.  Although, I must say ‘diversity’ is, even in my mind, a rather generic term for simply anything and everything.  In creating a brand and a concept, it must be understood who its key target audience is and where its focus lies, but this is not to the exclusion of anyone, and nor do, just because the terms used are more easily understood, any of them really summarise what the motives of the station are or what it seeks to attempt to achieve.

initially, I wanted the station slogan to be ‘Your non-heterocentric station’, but was advised against this as it is too wordy and a confusing term for many (we’re trying to get people to tune in, not turn them off!).  But that statement summarises best the intent of the station.  
Many people who know little about me but the basics, may well assume that I am both ‘straight’ and ‘cis’.  I am not someone who adheres to labels – I class myself as neither L, nor G, nor B, nor T nor I nor even S (straight) for that matter.  Yes, I have a girlfriend now and have publicly worked in the ‘heterosexual’ adult entertainment industry.  I have also publicly worked in the ‘gay’ community as a performer and contributor for many years too and, privately, my life adheres to that more of a ‘B’ than anything else, but (as previous posts have described) I find labels unnecessary and unhelpful for the human species to recognise the complexity of its own sexuality that should not and, I would argue, cannot, simply be pigeon-holed into neatly compartmented segments that suit society for ease of its own self-understanding.  
In my arguments around the natural pliability of human sexuality, and all our capacities to fall in love, have strong physical and/or sexual feelings for anyone, irrespective of gender, I’m often accused of, through my apparent logic, claiming that homosexuality is therefore a ‘choice’ because we all have the capacity to love both genders, but they ‘choose’ to love only people of the same gender.  At no point do I ever claim there is ever a choice.  But we fall for individuals not genitals.  You fall in love with Person A because they are Person A, not because of what does, or does not, hang between their legs and, it is possible, that, one day, you may just find that you fall in love with someone that does not have something hanging between their legs.  There is no choice who you fall in love with.  But the stress on the lack of choice should be on the person with whom those feelings develop, not on the penis or vagina they may possess.  Labels do not help humanity to come to terms with this possibility.  A possibility which occurs to greater and lesser extents in some individuals, but occurs nonetheless.  Labels do create unnecessary divisions, in the minds of others and, even, in our own when attempting to self-define and find a place to fit in society.
Having said that, and despite my own belief in the counter-productiveness and lack of necessity for labels, it is not up to me to tell you what you are or what you are not.  I believe it is up to individuals to choose whatever labels they wish to identify themselves with.  This could be limited to one, spread over many or, indeed, be none.
For many years I have campaigned and spoken passionately about human sex, sexuality, sex work and related issues in the media and in academic institutions.  What drives me is a passion to change our attitude to sex, to fight for everyone’s freedom to express themselves sexually how they wish, to identify their gender however they so choose and to fall in love with whoever they desire.  My concern is not any more for the rights of LGBTI people as it is for EVERYONE to be able to live in a world where they can be who they want to be and live their lives to the fullest, regardless of who or what they are and who they love or have sex with.

Xpress Radio Scotland is about celebrating the diverse nature of human sexual and gender expression without the assumption that heterosexuality is the norm or using it as the reference point from which to refer to others. Therefore, the concept of ‘allies’ is completely irrelevant. 

But its also about recognising the status quo.  Xpress Radio Scotland exists as a response to the current social, cultural and political situation.  I would dearly wish there was not the need for a radio station like mine. Not because we are attempting in any way to create further division (because we are not), but because I wish all media did not continue to treat other sexual and gender identities that are not either heterosexual or cis as abnormal, strange or debased either in their coverage or in the opportunities they offer.
Rather than erecting walls, I would argue that this ‘LGBTI'(or whatever acronym you wish to employ to recognise EVERYONE who does not fall into the heterosexual and/or cis bracket)-focused organisation is attempting to build bridges across the sexual and gender ‘identities’ and to create a more inclusive example for the rest of the media industry (and other sectors) to take a lead from.
If you share in the aims and objectives of Xpress Radio Scotland, we could count on your support right now.  Please support our Crowdfunder Campaign by making a pledge, in return for some great rewards, at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/xpress-radio-scotland

The Attitude of those who like Attitude?

I totally support any media outlet that attempts to create literature that covers serious and more light-hearted stories around LGBT news, issues and affairs. I also support pornography. I don’t really have a problem with any magazine that tries to combine a little of one with some of the other.

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I have subscribed to the Attitude Magazine feed on Facebook (the UK’s largest ‘Gay Lifestyle’ magazine) for a while now. Rather than a feed full of enlightening, eye-opening, cutting-edge journalistic reports, interviews and informative stories, it is, without any degree of exaggeration, 90% of the time, about some ‘celebrity’ getting naked, taking a topless or naked selfie or dis-robing themselves in some other fashion or manner for all of the world to see.

Personally, I find it an insult to those in the ‘gay community’ that this is, apparently, pretty much all that, at the very least, they think the subscribers to their Facebook page want to see. That gay men are so vacuous, shallow and obsessed with male nudity that it is, really, the only defining common feature of them all. Is this really what Attitude Magazine believes and wants the rest of us to think?

It was only earlier in the month, after Attitude Magazine ‘dared’ one of my Dreamboys work colleagues, Dan Osborne (who, by the way, I am not blaming here at all, its not him I have an issue with), to jump naked into a swimming pool in Ibiza, that I responded with this Facebook post:

Dear Attitude Magazine
Rather than ‘daring’ ‘celebs’ to throw themselves naked into swimming pools for your cheap tittilation & that of your readers, why not dare these ‘celebs’ to spend their valuable time going into schools to tackle homophobia or fight for the rights of homosexuals in oppressive regimes? And get them to do it for free rather than sucking more of the pink currency that they, in reality if it wasn’t for the financial recompense, would have no real time or care for? Seems like that would be more a realistic and appropriate ‘dare’ to me.
Thanks.
Yours faithfully,
Benedict

Then today, after yet more posts offering me the opportunity to see a naked Dan Osborne in their magazine (despite having the opportunity to see his arse every time I work with him), I tweeted this and then the following conversation ensued:

Benedict Garrett ‏@BenedictGarrett
Dear @AttitudeMag Please change your name to ‘Naked Men Mag’. Gay lifestyle? My arse!!!

Josh @JoshJowo
@BenedictGarrett @AttitudeMag I like it the way it is. Good to have some eye candy! Don’t like it don’t read it lol # attitude

Benedict Garrett ‏@BenedictGarrett
@JoshJowo @AttitudeMag SOME is fine. The bombardment of male torsos from a mag purporting to cover serious gay issues is embarrassing.

And FYI I’ve never purchased a copy in my life. Have no intention of doing so.

Josh ‏@JoshJowo
@BenedictGarrett @AttitudeMag well its a gay magazine and sex sells lol if you’ve never brought it why bitch about it!

Benedict Garrett ‏@BenedictGarrett
@JoshJowo @AttitudeMag I know EXACTLY what it is. The stress was on BOUGHT. I’ve read it aplenty. I’ve even been in it!

Interesting philosophy. Don’t criticize anything, just ignore it. Now that’s a pathetic ATTITUDE.

Now I understand the magazine’s namesake. It’s a reflection of the idiots who buy it!

Josh ‏@JoshJowo 
@BenedictGarrett @AttitudeMag wow your such a nice person NOT! Your pathetic!

Benedict Garrett ‏@BenedictGarrett
@JoshJowo @AttitudeMag Excellent point. Well made. Again, great reflection of its readership’s mental capabilities.

If it’s not naked, it’s not news, right? God forbid gay men give a crap about anything else, of course!

Josh ‏@JoshJowo 
@BenedictGarrett @AttitudeMag lmao yet your the teacher/pornstar/dreamboy who makes a living out of getting there torso out! #hypocrite

Benedict Garrett ‏@BenedictGarrett 
@JoshJowo @AttitudeMag Indeed I do. But I don’t pretend to be anything else. THAT is the difference. But I don’t expect you to get it.

I don’t pretend to be a magazine covering serious ‘gay lifestyle’ issues but continually posting pictures of naked men, many of which could not give two shits about gay men or gay issues. But hey, as long as they’re naked, you don’t give a shit either, do you. Just another vacuous, brain dead gay man who, as long as there’s nudity, he’s happy.

And before you say it, I’m calling YOU a ‘vacuous, brain dead gay man’, not saying all gay men are. #needsspellingout

Josh ‏@JoshJowo
@BenedictGarrett @AttitudeMag your truly a ugly person with a ugly heart! What makes you think you can talk to people like that!

Then he decided to DM me this:

Josh
I don’t understand why you have to be so cruel. What you’ve said is pure nastiness. Unneeded! I was only saying I like the mag the way it is
5m 5 minutes ago

Benedict Garrett
Any reason you feel the need to DM me?

You responded to what I wrote. I responded to what you wrote. I say it as I see it.
4m 4 minutes ago

Josh
You don’t even know me. You’ve just been a complete wanker.
3m 3 minutes ago

Benedict Garrett
Thanks. Keep up the good work.
49s 50 seconds ago

Now, you tell me, did I go a step too far?

Face? Bovvered! #Attitude

BENDY IN BRIEF: Will I go ‘gay for pay’?

10370953_696529143738821_1745665813594968409_nIf only I got a pound…

Can we put this question to bed please?

Its not the ‘gay’ aspect I have an issue with, its the principle and basis of the question I don’t recognise and am deeply uncomfortable with:

 

FB ‘FRIEND’: ey. Benedict would you do gay for pay (no question mark)

ME: Do you enjoy paying people to do things that they are not comfortable doing otherwise?
Do you get pleasure from that?
Knowing the ONLY reason I would be spreading my bum cheeks or fucking your arse is because you paid me?
You like that idea, do you?
Does that turn you on?

 

Now, as I say, I may ‘go gay’, I may already have done so, this is not the point and nor is it relevant.

The point is:

A) Its not the fact I won’t ‘go gay’, its the fact I don’t want to ‘go gay’ for Tom, Dick or Harry who whips out his wallet. Its not something I am sexually confident or comfortable (physically, not morally) with to do with any person who happens to have a penis.

B) The idea my comfort and preferences can be bought for the highest bidder is something I am DEEPLY uncomfortable with.

Maybe I am naive. I am aware plenty of other people will just ‘bend over and take it’ (in more sense than one), because you are paying, but I have NEVER worked on that principle, and NEVER will I. If you want to INFLICT your pleasure on someone else who wouldn’t otherwise even look at you, just because your wallet is big enough for them to be convinced to cast any of their preferences and physical comforts aside, then go ahead. I hope you are happy with yourself and that you can sleep soundly at night knowing that that is how you treat your fellow human beings. I know, for one, that I could not.

 

Oh, and by the way, no I have not used the services of a prostitute. Obviously, I am a prostitute, so I have no issue with it. BUT, if I did use a prostitute, I would pay for the services that they OFFERED, not try to convince them to do things they DIDN’T offer.

Porn = rape? Nothing could be further from the truth

porn-fuels-rape-better

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!!!

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…

family-safe-pornography-nggid0212-ngg0dyn-600x450x100-00f0w010c010r110f110r010t010

… 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.