On April 2, 2014, Assembly Bill (AB) 1576 cleared California’s Labor and Employment Committee by a vote of 5-0.
AB 1576 is the latest in a series of three bills, all sponsored by California Assemblyperson Isadore Hall, looking to require the use of “personal protective equipment” such that “the employee [is protected] from exposure to bloodborne pathogens” during adult content production. Further, AB 1576 requires employers pay for 14 day STI testing and adds stipulations for occupational training and workers’ compensation review. AB 1576 also includes a criminal prosecution dimension “because a violation of the act would be a crime under certain circumstances.”
At first glance, AB 1576 may seem well intentioned and good – safer sex, educated workers, etc …except that like 2013’s AB 640 and AB 332, both of which died after various trips through the California Assembly, it just isn’t.
AB 1576 takes away performers’ bodily autonomy regarding what they are and are not legally required to put in and/or on their genitals, as well as in and/or over their mouths, noses, and eyes. Currently, though certainly not without flaws, performers get to make their own “personal protective equipment” calls on a booking-by-booking basis.
Further, the author(s) of AB 1576 are clearly unfamiliar with the structure of the adult industry – though a small handful of performers are employed as exclusive “contract girls” for a single company, the vast majority of folks are hired by scene for any number of producers. How then are these producer-employers supposed to test and train them? And if, for example, a performer works for three different companies in one week, who are they supposed to look to for these provisions? The language of this entire bill is completely off mark.
And there’s so much more…
The “straight” side* of the adult industry has been testing for STIs since the 1990s. Their system, which is informed directly by members of the community, is continuously refined and (presumably) improved. Further, performers have recently begun to take strides towards organizing their own labor – see for example the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee’s (APAC) “Porn 101.”
Regulation of any industry is tricky, but it’s especially tricky with something as stigmatized as porn. I have spent a considerable amount of time researching workplace safety in adult (see for example my article “‘Anything that forces itself into my vagina is by definition raping me…’ – Adult Performers and Occupational Safety and Health,” published in the Stanford Law and Policy Review in 2012), and I’m not convinced this bill will actually support its target population.
Rather than continuing down a path of uninformed lip service, I’d like the powers that be to spend some time familiarizing themselves with how the adult industry actually works. I would also like to see them get input from a representative sample of current adult performers… because this whole regulating in the dark thing is really going to cause problems. Further, once they do their due diligence, I’d really like to see this idea of performer workplace education and training explored further, maybe in conjunction with APAC. If only…
Now that AB 1576 has passed the Labor and Employment Committee, it’s off to Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media. You can read the full text of AB 1576 right here. What do you think?
* Gay porn production has its own community-specific tools and tactics for mitigating STIs.
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