The adult film industry would be the first to tell you that it’s in the business of selling fantasy. While movies and TV shows reflect our attitudes and emotions on a caricatured level, pornography taps into a more carnal, visceral desire. Pornography is a fantasy that for many—judging from sales numbers and prominent online sources—is a necessary and accepted evil.
And now, a new rule is out to rub Los Angeles-based studios and the entire porn industry the wrong way.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa approved a law that will require adult performers to use condoms on commercial film sets. The law has infuriated the porn industry and has given the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation plenty to celebrate.
The issue here is a matter of public and workplace safety, something that the city should hope to protect. But this isn’t the right solution.
For one, porn stars are arguably more informed about the dangers and consequences of sexually transmitted diseases than anyone in the general public.
In the 21st century, it’s essentially been added to the job description. Porn stars are constantly screened for STDs and are required to show proof of a clean bill of health prior to every shoot. If the porn industry wasn’t so proactive about keeping their performers safe, the condom law might make more sense.
But taking into consideration how the business works in today’s world, the industry is considering this a nuisance and a breach of their personal rights.
We have the right to determine what goes on in our bodies. If there are safety procedures in place, what makes this the exception?
On a foundational level, the porn industry’s main gripe with the law isn’t about safety. Every job could stand to be safer, and if the porn companies found a non-intrusive way of doing so, it would surely comply. But the image of a condom is the image of censorship and freedoms being taken away.
While porn companies generate millions of dollars for California, they exist as outliers away from a more accepted mainstream culture.
For a business constantly ostracized for its lack of morality, being regulated in such an impactful way can be a tough pill to swallow; especially for men and women who entered the business to subvert authority figures.
The economic implications of the new law will cause a legitimate scare in the industry. Porn stars and producers claim that viewers don’t want to see condoms on the screen. The backlash would cause a dip in sales and some of the most profitable companies would have to relocate to other states. Such migration has already been threatened by several companies.
Then there’s the matter of enforcement and implementation. The law only applies to film sets that require film permits, which are generally only required in cities. Unincorporated areas may still be fair game.
As for enforcement, I find it hard to believe that there will be a dedicated police force committed to monitoring the daily happenings of L.A. porn companies.
The intent behind the law is noble. There will always be a scare of HIV and AIDS in the industry, but companies and performers have done what they can to mitigate the risk without compromising the interests of the viewers.
Standardizing condom use in porn films can help educate the public about safer sex, but according to a 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, condom use in teenagers have risen significantly since 2002. Clearly the public is learning the importance of contraceptives despite what they see in porn.
Plus, education is fine and all, but if the goal is to have porn teach us more than just new sexual positions, we’re clearly doing something wrong.