Benedict Garrett, aka, ‘Johnny Anglais’, a “male teacher who moonlighted as a stripper and appeared in pornographic films has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct but left free to continue teaching.”
I probably shouldn’t supply oxygen to the fire that is his fifteen minutes of fame, since the one thing that is blazingly obvious about all this is that he really, desperately wants people to pay him attention, but as he is getting all this mainstream coverage, it’s worth having a look at what he’s saying. It won’t take long to rattle through, since he spends most of the porn debate telling us what an Awesome Nice Guy (TM) he is. The rest of his arguments are disingenuous to say the least, downright contradictory in (important) places, and (unsurprisingly) have a lot in common with the ‘Dumb MRA’ piece tackled on this blog a while back.
The first thing to say is that Johnny isn’t being completely honest about why he was reprimanded; there were also concerns about his “over-familiar” classroom manner, he “regularly communicated with year 10 students about matters unrelated to school using text messages, emails and Facebook.”. If he was such a wonderful teacher, why did pupils choose to risk getting into trouble by reporting seeing him in a trailer for a porn film? Perhaps some of the pupils themselves were also concerned about his “over-familiar” classroom manner?
Johnny says that porn made him a better ‘lover’ (well, we’ve only got his word on that!), and claims that before he accessed porn, he “never really knew what a vagina looked like and I certainly had no idea how to pleasure it or what a plethora of different sexual positions that I might choose to employ there are.” There’s nothing remotely creepy about reducing a woman to a disembodied vagina, or a passive object to be manipulated into his choice of ‘positions’ is there? But don’t worry ladies, he has “also grown to respect women and all human beings”, and degrading women is “really not [his] taste”, so there’s nothing to worry about there then.
But, despite claiming that decent sex would have been practically impossible for him without porn, he also claims that he learnt virtually nothing from watching porn:
“Equally, I don’t learn how to treat fellow humans through horror films or shoot ‘em ups. Whilst pornography taught me some things, it certainly never replaced more important lessons learned from good parenting and decent teaching.”
So, porn taught him how to ‘pleasure a vagina’, but didn’t teach him anything about how to treat a woman? You would think this dissonance might set a few alarm bells ringing somewhere. The sex acts in porn may all be real in that they really happened, they weren’t faked with CGI or prosthetic body parts, but the rest, the scenarios, the responses (but not, I’m willing to bet, the pain, discomfort or distress) are performances. Wouldn’t being able to work out that the ‘set-up’ in porn isn’t realistic clue a viewer onto the idea that the ‘pleasure’ isn’t either? He’s been a porn performer, you think he’d realise that the “plethora of different sexual positions” were more about granting the camera access than anything else.
In talking about “good parenting” (implicitly saying that nice, middle-class white boys don’t commit rape) he is following the MRA line that violence against women is something stupid men do, almost by accident, because they’re too ignorant to realise or know any better; but violence against women is committed deliberately and calculatedly, by men of all types, from all backgrounds.
He comes up with a ‘what about the poor men’ argument, claiming no one ever talks about the exploitation of men in porn. Funny that, we did, just last week! Funny, also, that he claims we are insulting women’s intelligence by saying they are being exploited by the porn industry – is he insulting men’s intelligence? Does he want to take men’s agency away? He also comes out with the, ‘but all work is exploitative’ argument, as if a working a 10 hour shift was equivalent to a prolapsed anus.
Johnny claims that exploitation in the porn industry is rare, it’s just “corrupt individuals”. He makes the UK porn industry he worked in sound like some kind of arts & crafts cottage industry, where everyone sits around having cups of tea, and maybe fucks in front of a camera at some point. This is completely dishonest – read this write-up of the BBC documentary Hardcore Profits; the reporter wasn’t doing an in-depth investigation of porn industry conditions, he wasn’t infiltrating any dark corners of the industry, he visited the big, mainstream LA porn companies that operate entirely in the open; one of the male performers said he’d only ever worked with a tiny number of ‘girls’ who weren’t crying in the bathroom before a shoot, and female performers talked about being used as ‘guinea pigs’ and feeling like they couldn’t say no on set.
Johnny says: “your problem is not with porn per se, but with the current state of some porn.” Yeah, yeah. You know what? We’ve had three decades now of so-called ‘sex positive’, ‘sex radical’, ‘feminist’, ‘better’ porn, and we still live in a society where women are second class citizens, where large numbers of women hate and starve their bodies, where rape and physical abuse against women is still at epidemic proportions, but rape myths still prevail. This ‘better’ porn hasn’t done shit for women, the most it’s done is made a hand full of women behind the camera a lot of money.
In his CiF piece, Johnny claims: “There is no evidence to prove pornography has either a negative or, for that matter, a positive effect on society. There are scraps of research, but no proof at all.”
Well yes, proving a direct causal link between pornography and violence against women is going to be difficult, but then, any social experiment along the lines of, hey let’s show men loads of violent porn and then count how many rapes they commit, wouldn’t get past any ethics board. Human beings are complicated, and you cannot ethically raise human beings under control conditions. We live in a patriarchy, we are so saturated in misogyny that most of the time one stops noticing it, there is no ‘outside’ of that to stand in to take measurements from.
There is proof of pornography having negative effects on women and men. Women are now, in increasing numbers, getting their genitals mutilated to match the porn ideal, teenage girls now have to disassociate in order to ‘perform’ a pornified sexuality. Men become addicted and can no longer form regular relationships. There’s plenty of evidence.