Ventura County Reporter Editorial: Let’s talk about safer sex in the porn industry

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from www.vcreporter.com – When Los Angeles County’s Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, or Measure B, passed with 56 percent of the vote in the last election, it seemed like a path paved with good intentions. The law mandates that porn performers use condoms on set, plus it requires porn producers to apply for permits from the L.A. County Department of Public Health to shoot sex scenes.

These seem like somewhat fair demands — the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV is dangerous and can be deadly. So with the best of intentions, voters mandated that the porn industry have safer sex; but the industry wants nothing to do with that. (Safe sex porn videos apparently don’t sell very well — or perhaps there isn’t enough material to test the market.) This business may just move to where it is welcome.

While Vivid Entertainment, one of the biggest producers in the industry, contests the law in U.S. District Court, other producers are making their way into Ventura County, and local leaders are discussing options to keep the industry at bay, at least for now.

County Supervisor Linda Parks, District 2, announced last week that she was going to introduce an ordinance requiring actors to use condoms during movie production in unincorporated areas of Ventura County. She stated that she believed it would deter producers from making pornographic videos in those areas.

In late March, the Camarillo City Council enacted a 45-day moratorium on pornographic film production, which would allow the council to study the effects and impacts on public health, safety and welfare of the community. And even before measure B passed, the Simi Valley City Council took the initiative to prevent the industry from establishing itself in that city and approved an ordinance in April 2012 requiring porn performers to use condoms during sex acts.

Despite the apparently good intentions, it may be that this measure was more about moving the industry out of L.A. than it was about protecting the performers. And Parks had no qualms about stating that her ordinance wasn’t necessarily about safer sex, but rather about seeing that porn producers stay out of the area. The question really boils down to whether or not these porn performers and producers have any First Amendment protection of their freedom of expression. Furthermore, if cities, counties and states all pass and enact laws mandating that porn actors use condoms during production, and the industry conforms, will legislators and voters for safer sex embrace the industry?

It’s too soon to tell the future of the porn industry. Clearly, the demand for such content isn’t going away. In fact, porn is the biggest content provider on the Internet.

“According to Google’s DoubleClick Ad Planner, which tracks users across the web with a cookie, dozens of adult destinations populate the top 500 websites. Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN or ESPN, and twice the size of Reddit. LiveJasmin isn’t much smaller. YouPorn, Tube8, and Pornhub — they’re all vast, vast sites that dwarf almost everything except the Googles and Facebooks of the internet,” so says Just How Big are Porn Sites?, an article by Sebastian Anthony in Extreme Tech.

There are several situations that could develop. One is that the industry may eventually conform and porn actors will use condoms and legislators will most likely try to find another way to shut them down. Another, Vivid Entertainment will win its case and porn actors will continue with business as usual and engage in high-risk behavior despite the industry’s self-imposed safeguards, such as blood tests, which don’t seem to work so well.

Or perhaps producers and porn actors will opt for safer sex and wear condoms so that their industry isn’t so tainted by the proliferation of STDs. Of course, there’s always the option of the creation of an underground black market for condom-free porn that could have even more dire consequences than what is already happening in the adult industry.

Whatever the case may be and whatever other scenario may play out for the industry, it’s time to face the facts — the industry isn’t going anywhere, though we may delay its growth temporarily. We hope that eventually the industry and legislators will find a compromise that promotes a safe and healthy environment for the actors as well as the neighborhoods these movies are filmed in. While condoms may be a bit much to ask for, forcing the industry underground without any regulatory standards may not be the direction this tumultuous ship should go. 

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