Peter Acworth: Why I’m Opposed to Mandating Condoms

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Peter Acworth writes on www.peteracworth.com – AB 332 is a pending bill in the California state legislature mandating that performers in the adult industry use condoms when they work.

At it’s heart, it’s a state-wide version of the ordinance that passed in Los Angeles last fall. On the surface, such a bill would seem to protect the performers from STIs — a worthy goal, and one toward which all of us in the industry should work. Unfortunately, AB 332 would make things worse performers. I’ve spent over ten years working to make Kink a safe and sane work environment for performers, and the bill does nothing to acknowledge the reality of porn production.

Kink, like most of the industry, abides by a strict set of testing protocols — a safety infrastructure we’ve built over the past decade to keep performers safe. Porn actors are required to submit to regular testing, and present those tests before shooting new scenes. It’s been largely successful — there has not been a case of HIV transmission on a porn set since 2004, and when there has even a suspicion, the industry shuts down until everyone can be retested.

What AB 322 does by requiring condoms could dismantle this testing protocol and threaten to drive porn production back underground. It also takes away the rights of performers who prefer not to use condoms on set due. Porn production is a physically intensive process, and latex makes the process much more difficult. In a three hour shoot, it can be abrasive and very uncomfortable. (Kink did a survey of performers a few years ago, and a majority of both men and women prefer to shoot porn without condoms — even when they use them diligently in their personal life.)

Instead of creating smarter regulation, AB 322 will turn porn into a wild west, stripping existing protections from our performers. In the short term, much of the industry will move out of state, or overseas, to places where neither condoms — nor our testing protocols — are in place to protect models.

There are ways that the porn industry can make sets safer for models, but AB 322, like Measure B before it, isn’t one of them. They were drafted by moralists (we can get into that at another time) who have never listened to what either performers or producers have told them about how we live or work.

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