*This blog post is a BLOG JINX! entry, posted simutaneously with my good friend Jiz Lee on an identical subject. We have tackled this subject before, but thought we could use a re-visit as it’s close to election day. You can read Jiz Lee’s post on Measure B and Safer Sex here.
This month, the citizens of LA County will be making a decision that could affect the way porn is made within county limits. Measure B proposes that porn companies shooting within LA County limits must post a public health permit, require adult performers to wear condoms during sex acts, and require a blood borne pathogen training course.
How do I feel about it? Well, above all, it goes to say that this law would not effect me whatsoever as a porn director, as I don’t direct in LA County. If I were to start performing in LA, I would probably be relieved by a condom-only set, because then I wouldn’t have to try to request one and risk not getting cast. But, that’s very unlikely to happen as my choices for work in LA as a plus-size, tattooed, queer, outspoken, and nontraditional person are, shall we say, very slim.
So, my opinion is based on my beliefs in the freedom of choice, and my background in sex education and peer-to-peer STI prevention. Instead of protecting adult performer’s personal choices, this law goes overboard by mandating condom use, rather than protecting the right to use condoms. It wastes government money that would be better spent on schools, healthcare, and creating new jobs. It denies performers the right to choose, regardless of what health reasons or other protections they may have in place.
I believe that STI screening every 30 days, a self-regulated practice currently working in the adult industry (aside from that Syphilis outbreak) should be mandatory, and that if a performer requests ANY kind of safer sex barrier on set, their choice should be protected and respected – no exceptions.
But, for the few porn stars that seem to be loudly against this measure, there seem to be hundreds of performers staying quiet about it as well. Is that because their ability to get work is at risk if they admit they are hoping that condoms become mandatory? Is it because, when they show up on set with safer sex barriers, they are laughed at and made to perform without them, or not get work at all?
While researching this measure, I noticed that the people investing money in the No On B campaign are not people I align my own politics with, such as the huge overseas company Manwin that owns half of the mainstream porn companies, nor Hustler or Vivid Entertainment, who while fighting freedom of speech, still perpetuate a hetero-normative, sizeist, racist, and misogynist profit-chasing working atmosphere, which is actually more silencing than free-ing. Not to mention, it sounds like this committee paid Mr. Marcus (the center of the recent Syphilis outbreak in LA) a large sum of money as a “consultation fee” after he started giving interviews about how he wasn’t well educated on STIs like Syphilis – which is what the Measure B is hoping to do with it’s required blood borne pathogen training and public health postings – two things I would vote for IF the measure was posed SANS mandatory condoms.
Why should I be for or against this measure? Well, I do believe in my first amendment rights, and I fight strongly for everybody else’s rights to freedom as well. So, while I do think that there should not be a MANDATORY condom law – I DO think that the CHOICE of a performer to use condoms and other safer sex barriers on set should be PROTECTED by the law.
So, I say No on Measure B (and if you are in LA County limits, please do vote no on this measure) but, if there were a measure to protect the performer’s right to choose a condom-only scene or not, plus the mandatory public health permits and STI training courses – I would immediately vote Yes. I don’t really care if my opinion kicks me out of the club.
In middle school, I attended a sexual education course outside of my school. This course included not only instruction on anatomy, conception, and relationships – but also alternative sexualities, and above all, safer sex.
In high school, I was part of the AIDS Peer Education Exchange, where I became a certified resource for high schoolers to come and find me on campus to get condoms and information about STIs and safer sex – since our country has misinformed generation after generation about sex. I took my job as a safer sex advocate seriously – and I still do.
Through my porn work I have always placed the importance of erotisizing and normalizing the general use of safer sex barriers (including but not limited to, condoms, latex gloves, and dental dams) – which is something that most porn companies just will. not. do.
In fact, most hetero-normative porn companies ridicule safer sex. Most recently, and what finally inspired me to write this post, is a series of images from Girlfriends Films (a male-owned girl/girl porn company) that depict two sexy lesbian porn stars engaging in oral sex, but using gloves and plastic to protect themselves. The caption to this is, of course, “This is what porn would look like if Measure B passes,” and to which the FREE SPEECH COALITION reposted with ”THIS IS JUST NOT HOT.”
Not only does the measure NOT say anything about the use of safer sex barriers other than condoms, but the comments made about these photos actually kind of turns me off to wanting to be on anybody’s side at all in this matter. I stand STRONGLY for the use of safer sex barriers in real life to prevent the spread of STIs, including in lesbian interactions.
I believe that even if porn companies want to say “Porn is not Sex Ed, and barriers don’t work for us” – MOCKING safer sex is damaging to the young men and women who watch your porn. If you respond with, “Safer Sex Is Not Hot, It’s Not Cool At All, and we don’t want to use it” – you are projecting that message far, far, far beyond your rights as a performer – whether you think your porn is educating someone or not. Saying that your porn stars are not role models of how to have sex, and what’s sexy is like saying that fashion models aren’t role models for how to dress, or what’s fashionable – or that a professional television chef doesn’t make food they want you to try to cook.
Unless you put a disclaimer that says “Do not try this at home, these are professional adult performers who are tested monthly and have chosen to not wear condoms for this scene” – your argument that porn isn’t sex ed is a weak one.
If Measure B fails to pass, I hope that mainstream porn companies will look towards the future with goals of self-regulation (like the gay porn industry has been doing already for decades, with no complaints from the performers, or the audience) and also, promoting the healthy use of safer sex barriers – if not in the actual scenes, in public service announcements and educational resources for their audience. Also, educate your performers on their choices to use, or not use, condoms.
SAFER SEX IS REALLY REALLY HOT, AND CAN PREVENT YOU FROM GETTING, OR GIVING, SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS. While it may not be right for the government to make it mandatory for porn, it SHOULD be self regulated by the porn industry, the choice to use it protected, and education free, available, and easy to obtain within the industry.
These are my opinions and I stand by them. I hope that more people will join me by saying, YES TO SAFER SEX, NO TO MEASURE B. YES TO THE PROTECTED RIGHT TO CHOOSE SAFER SEX, NO TO GOVERNMENT RESTRICTIONS.
And with that, here is my visual response to Girlfriends Films and the FSC: