“California rejects plan to force porn actors to wear condoms, dental dams and goggles”

This really is amazing. Can you imagine anyone trying to argue that compulsory Personal Protective Equipment on a building site, or for laboratory workers handling dangerous chemicals, or for an abattoir worker using sharp knives, was patronising, and actually taking workers rights away?

And holy shit, look at the co-opting of the concept of reproductive rights, apparently being exposed to blood-born pathogens is a reproductive right now!

There is also no acknowledgement of the financial pressures porn performers, especially new, young and easy to manipulate performers, face to not use condoms.

California has rejected a move to force porn actors to use condoms, dental dams, and even goggles during filming in order to prevent sexually transmitted infections.

Following six hours of impassioned testimony from nearly 100 actors and producers fiercely opposed to the stringent regulations, members of the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards board voted 3-2 in favor of the rules, failing to reach the four-vote threshold necessary for adoption.

After the vote was finalized, the crowd inside the hearing room in Oakland erupted with cheers and applause.

“These regulations were based in stigma rather than science, and would have severely hurt adult performers,” said Eric Paul Leue, the executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult entertainment industry, in a statement following the vote. “We look forward to working with Cal/OSHA on sensible regulation that respects performers choices.”

Cal/OSHA, which drafted the rules, released the following statement after the vote: “While the standards board voted against adopting the proposed regulation, condoms are still required under the existing bloodborne pathogens standard in California and nationwide. This includes adult films.”

Speaking before the board, Leue had denounced the process by which the regulations were drafted, calling it “patronizing, cluttered with stereotypes and a sexist approach that strips performers of their reproductive rights and personal and professional medical privacy”.

“We’re not opposed to regulation. We’re opposed to this regulation,” he said.

The process of crafting the regulations began more than six years ago when the Aids Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, first petitioned the state to update and clarify its standards for workers who may come into contact with “bloodborne pathogens”. The existing regulations did require protective barriers for workers who come into contact with bodily fluids but had been largely applied in medical settings, not the adult film industry.

“Many young people get their information from these films, and the message they get is that the only hot sex is unsafe sex,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AHF. Weinstein, a dogged advocate for condoms, also helped pass legislation in Los Angeles county requiring the use of condoms in pornography.

“First and foremost, it’s about protecting the performers,” Weinstein said.

But many performers and public health experts argued that the new rules would be less safe than the existing industry standard promoted by the Free Speech Coalition, called Performer Availability Scheduling Services. Under that system, performers are tested for STIs every two weeks, and the results are stored in a private database. Producers then hire performers who are deemed “available” by the database, without learning any additional information about their medical status.

By contrast, the new regulations required performers to be tested for STIs every three months.

“This law denies bodily autonomy to an already marginalized population, and it denies us our voice,” said Ela Darling, a porn performer who travelled from her home in North Hollywood to speak at the hearing.

“The operative word in the adult industry is adult. We have the ability to think for ourselves. This isn’t big daddy porn boss telling all the children what to do.”

Darling expressed the common concern that passage of the new rules would result in the porn industry leaving California or going underground. A former librarian, Darling worried that she would not be able to return to her former career.

“Porn closes a lot of doors for you. I have a master’s degree, but what is that going to do now that my porn is on the internet?” she said.

“My sexual health is actually a lot more safe now that I’m in the porn industry, because of our testing protocols,” said Lotus Lain, another performer who spoke at the hearing. “The Aids Healthcare Foundation is attacking our industry because it’s headline grabbing. They should focus their HIV prevention money and efforts in the communities where HIV is actually on the rise.”

Dr David Holland, a professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, urged the board to reject the rules, saying: “We’ve tried to tell people what kind of sex they can or can’t have, and that doesn’t work. The only thing that this kind of rule does is push the activity underground where you can’t see it.”

Courtney Mulhearn-Pearson of the San Francisco Aids Foundation said the rules were the result of “the same misguided reasoning that produced HIV criminalization laws”.

The battle over condoms in porn is not over, however. A statewide ballot initiative mandating the use of condoms in porn proposed by Weinstein will appear on the November 2016 ballot.

7 responses

  1. Tell us all again how legalization makes this stuff safer, eh?

  2. No, you can’t wear knife-proof gloves, but we will make sure you know if any of your fingers are cut off.

  3. This is just so sad. All of her concerns – that she won’t be able to get another job, that the porn industry will go elsewhere, just shows how trapped she is. The only reason she is arguing for this is that she knows that if this regulation passes she’ll be out of a job and unable to make a living for herself. There’s nothing free or empowered about that. Yet she never thinks to criticise society or the industry for those things which are actually trapping her. She never thinks that she should be allowed to be safe and still make a living. Once again capitalism and patriarchy are naturalised and intervention to limit their harms is seen as some artificial imposition.

    And it’s ridiculous to say that STI testing makes you safe. Every time I have had an HIV test they have told me, it can take 3 months for it to show up.

  4. Blaming porn for society’s prejudices against former porn performers is like blaming Jews for antisemitism.
    If you want to help former porn performers who face difficulty when looking for other employment, then a sensible thing to do would be to introduce anti-discrimination legislation which makes it illegal for companies to discriminate against former sex workers when hiring.
    Goggles wont help against prejudice, they just serve to further stigmatize porn performers.

  5. The porn industry is arguing that their workers don’t want or need the same basic at-work protections that every other type of worker is assumed to want and be entitled to, so the porn industry itself is discriminating against it’s own ‘workers’.

    Your analogy is wrong and offensive. You are conflating the workers and the bosses here, that’s very poor theory on your part. Do you think the factory owner and the factory worker both have the same interests and goals? Does something that benefits the boss always benefit the worker, or is is it more realistic to say that their needs are conflicting and incompatible?

    No self-defined leftist would accept such a conflation in any other area, but somehow the sex industry is always given a free pass.

    What makes you think I’m ok with discrimination against those exiting the sex industry? Have you read anything else on this blog? Have you even read this post properly? It’s got nothing to do with those exiting the sex industry being discriminated against (except very briefly), it’s about the ‘working’ conditions of porn performers.

    Please explain how personal protective equipment causes discrimination? Do lab coats stigmatize lab workers? Do hard hats stigmatize construction workers?

    The simple fact is, porn and prostitution is not ‘work like any other work’.

    I don’t think goggles will destigmatize pornography, that’s not the point, the point is to put an end to harmful production practices.

    Pornographers say the sex in porn is too violent for condom use, compulsory condom use should bring an end to violent sex – real, meaningful legislation to end harmful practices in pornography production would bring about the end of the porn industry, because it can’t function without violence.

  6. What exactly is it in porn that is stigmatized?

    ‘Stigma’ is always used in such a vague way by sex industry advocates that it means practically nothing.

    Women in porn (let’s face it, men in het porn don’t exactly face the same risks as women) are stigmatised because of misogyny. In the mainstream, under patriarchy, women are sex and sex is dirty and women are dirt.

    This has nothing to do with radical feminists pointing out the abusive practices in porn production, or pointing out how misogynistic porn is.

    You don’t solve a problem by insisting it isn’t there.

    You won’t solve the ‘stigma’ surrounding porn by insisting that porn is harmless.

    Porn titles like ‘cum drinking whore’ (etc etc ad nauseam) reinforce misogyny, and therefore reinforce the ‘stigma’ against porn performers.

  7. [four hour of fart noises]

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