I recently corresponded with Kari Paul, a writer/reporter for Marketwatch, re California ballot measure Prop 60 — Hopefully by now you know that’s for the statewide mandate of condoms in porn.
You can read Kari’s write up right here — “This ballot measure could upend the $10 billion porn industry” (November 2, 2016)
And you can read our full correspondence below. There are a few infrequently referenced facts re the adult industry’s history of STI prevention and mitigation in there — interested parties may want to know!
KP: What do opinions on Prop 60 look like within the adult industry? Are most performers for or against it? How about producers?
DrCT: The best way to determine how producers and performers feel about anything, including Prop 60, is to go directly to the source. Only performers and producers can speak to how performers and producers feel.
The Free Speech Coalition (FSC), which is the industry’s trade organization, and Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) have come out against Prop 60. And the activism in opposition to Prop 60 from performers and producers, both independently and in conjunction with these organizations, has been unprecedented. Even performers who are condom-only or who may prefer to use condoms are against Prop 60.
All that said, nothing is ever 100% — certainly there are members of the adult industry community who are for Prop 60. The overwhelming majority, however, are very vocally against it.
KP: What are the biggest concerns about Prop 60 from within the industry?
DrCT: In addition to disregarding decades of effective STI transmission prevention and mitigation protocol and practice, which was developed and refined by the industry itself, Prop 60:
1) Disregards the experiences and opinions of workers who will be most directly impacted by the legislation
2) Allows private citizens to profit from legal action against performers and producers
3) Puts members of an historically stigmatized and fragile population at greater risk via facilitating access to private personal information during said for-profit legal action
4) Has been developed and backed by one-and-only-one organization — an organization that is fixated on a widely accepted narrative regarding “safer sex” that is inappropriate in this specific community.
Put simply, though safer sex may be enhanced by condom use in an average person’s daily life, porn sex is almost entirely different. As such, condom use is equally dissimilar. This highly relevant fact is being disregarded in lieu of a wider, largely moralistic view on what constitutes safe(r) safe. And due to wider culture’s general sustained discomfort with diverse sexual expression – but especially the sexual expression that happens via commercial sex work in adult entertainment – we are very susceptible to writing our own “commonplace” understanding of sex and condom use on top of the adult entertainment community’s unique and highly specific experiences.
KP: If Prop 60 is passed, how would it affect the industry? Many people are saying it would drive it out of California–is that true? Where would the adult entertainment industry go if it were driven out of California? Where else is it legal, and are there condom restrictions there?
DrCT: In the US, it is only technically legal (on the state level) to produce porn in California and New Hampshire. There are no condom laws in NH. Any related regulations are likely outlined under state OSHA standards, as they are currently in California. (note – OSHA standards applied to CA porn production come from regulations that were designed for other, separate industries. Cal OSHA is currently in the process of attempting to develop specific, industry appropriate regulations for porn.)
If Prop 60 is passed, I foresee a number of scenarios unfolding. Porn in CA will leave the state and/or go underground – the existing community and protections embedded in the community network will fracture, putting performers at greater risk.
The organization behind Prop 60 has “vowed” to follow porn where ever it goes – this means condom legislation in NH and battles over the technical legality of porn. States like Nevada and Florida (that are already adult entertainment hubs, in spite of legal technicalities) will likely become battlegrounds for porn production’s legality in general – setting us back to the 1980s, when those same debates were being fought in CA. Though the precedent set by CA and NH will certainly be a factor, a legal battle will happen regardless.
In the meantime, while all this unfolds, the public’s demand for porn will not go away. At risk workers and producers will continue to attempt to meet consumer demands. Consumers may also begin to look for content produced outside the US, where things like age of consent and production standards vary dramatically. This will very likely put US consumers at risk as well.
KP: Where does regulation in the adult industry generally originate? Is it unusual for it to come from a ballot measure like this?
DrCT: Protecting Adult Welfare (PAW), a not-for-profit organization started by Bill Margold in 1993/1994, was the adult entertainment industry’s first attempt at providing a central location for performers to obtain health and wellness services. PAW also began providing routine HIV and STI testing as early as 1993. PAW’s services were absorbed, expanded, and formalized by Adult Industry Medical (AIM) in 1998. These organizations laid the groundwork for the industry’s current 14-day testing system – a system that has refined and evolved with community needs. This type of self-regulation came directly from a combination of industry leaders – performers, producers, directors, organizers, and stakeholders.
There is nothing “usual” about this ballot measure. Prop 60 is relying on personal phobias related to sex and the public’s limited understanding of porn to promote an agenda. Prop 60, and the litany of propositions, assembly bills, and campaigns that have come before it (all sponsored and promoted by the same organization/individual), has not taken the time to even familiarize itself with how the adult industry operates, much less consider the human and social elements of stigma and discrimination that impact the community in general and performers most significantly. Just the imprecise language and “understanding” shaping the civilian-lawsuit-for-financial-stakeholders piece points to a blatant and cavalier lack of consideration for worker safety and industry viability.
It is not fair to force uninformed regulation on any industry or worker. Could the adult entertainment industry stand for some regulation? Certainly. In informed, precise ways that seek to protect the safety and viability of the workplace – the same consideration that would be afforded any other workplace or industry.
(pictured: image via Marketwatch)
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