LA's Measure B: To disagree with using condoms in porn is to disagree with sexual health

Some porn actors are against the decision to mandate the use of condoms as they feel it's against freedom of expression

Share

Last month, the county of Los Angeles, California, voted in favour of Measure B, which will mandate the use of condoms in porn whenever vaginal or anal penetration takes place.

The measure, also known as the Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, is set to come into force in January. It will also require porn producers to obtain a public health permit, the cost of which will fund enforcement of the act.

With the proven preventative benefits of condoms in an industry that is vulnerable to all sorts of sexually transmitted nasties, you’d think performers would welcome the move to improve their safety - and that of their sexual partners, on screen and off. But on the contrary, a host of well-known porn actors have continued to speak out against Measure B; the debate was most recently reignited by adult star James Deen.

Deen’s main argument is one propagated by many involved in the porn industry: being forced to wear a condom is against freedom of expression. Surely it’s against the US constitution, he says, to mandate that a film is made in a certain way? But the suggestion that condoms essentially amount to censorship has a whiff of desperation. I’m all for freedom of speech, but I don’t see how the presence of a prophylactic will really affect the creative impact of a movie scene.

After all, Measure B is not intended to change how porn films look; it is meant to protect those involved in the making of the film. If it ends up on camera, then so be it. Is it a violation of a construction worker’s freedom of expression to require him to wear a hard hat on a building site? Of course not. And if that construction worker were to be filmed going about his usual work for a documentary, he’d presumably still be required to follow the site’s safety regulations - even if the director wasn’t a fan of the hard hat aesthetic.

This is the point: while there may be a lot of fakery in porn, ultimately the sex is real. Body parts are inserted into other body parts; fluids are exchanged. Surely a porn actor, so intimately aware of the health risks of his trade, couldn’t refute the added safety of using condoms?  But Deen and many of his colleagues don’t seem to think there would be much benefit.

They argue that condoms are unnecessary in the LA scene because of the rigorous testing of performers; they haven’t had a reported case of HIV for a long time. This is all well and good, but what about other sexually transmitted infections?

A recent study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases found that LA porn stars were significantly more likely to have an STI than LA prostitutes, who can work legally in Nevada - as long as they are regularly tested and wear a condom. Incidences of gonorrhea and chlamydia were found to be particularly high, with 28 per cent of the porn star participants having contracted one or both of the diseases, often without obvious symptoms.

Testing alone clearly isn’t sufficient. Just a few months ago, a syphilis outbreak infected at least half a dozen LA porn actors and resulted in a 10-day moratorium on filming, after one performer concealed his positive test result. It’s a lapse that adult film actor Aurora Snow, possibly the only porn star to speak out in favour of Measure B, says is far from uncommon.

Deen goes on to argue that porn sex is very different from the ‘everyday’ sex the general public has, and that condoms are not made for that kind of intense encounter.

“Condoms are intended for someone to have sex for about 10-12 minutes with an average-sized penis in a regular fashion,” he points out. “Not an above-average-sized penis in these crazy sexual stunts ... for anywhere from 30 minutes to three or four hours.”

He may have a point - although I’m somewhat sceptical of the existence of four-hour non-stop scenes in which changing a condom would cause a great disruption.  In any case, I dare say there are also plenty of non-porn stars who may suffer these, ahem, ‘difficulties’.

Let me help you out there, James. You see, many condom manufacturers make different sizes so that even the most famously endowed can enjoy their products. May I point you in the direction of Durex Comfort XL or Trojan Magnum Large? As for the duration and roughness of your escapades, well, breakages do occasionally happen. That’s when you stop, and put a new one on - a minor annoyance, and one that a little creative editing can no doubt smooth over. The fact remains that wearing a condom in sex, however hardcore the scene, is still a lot safer than nothing. Stuntmen have crash mats.

Ultimately, of course, the argument against Measure B all comes down to money. Where proponents of the act hope the general public may copy what they see in porn and use condoms more often, the LA industry fears they will simply stop watching, and turn to films made elsewhere.

We may never know if consumers are really so averse to condoms in their porn, as even before the measure was passed, producers threatened to leave the area. But it’s still a victory for those who voted for Measure B. They could never hope to change the whole industry, but they can help protect people working in their own county. STIs are all too easily spread, but they’re also easily preventable. With condoms so widely available and accepted, there’s no excuse for people who have sex as a job to risk their health - or anyone else’s.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Support Engineer

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Support Engi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
 

Costa Rica’s wildlife makes me mourn our paradise lost

Michael McCarthy
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence