The Rubber State: Porn Finds the Condom Bill Ill-Fitting

May 29, 2014
AB1576
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California has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the country; as of 2013, 8 percent of our state was out of work.

With so many Californians already unemployed, I am appalled by a bill that passed the California Assembly Appropriations Committee last week that would contribute to thousands more lost jobs here in the Bay Area and statewide, including, perhaps, my own. Assembly Bill 1576, which was introduced this year by Assembly member Isadore Hall, D-Compton, would require mandatory condom use in adult films produced in the Golden State. This is not the first time Hall has pushed for more latex in porn; he was also behind a similar mandate, Los Angeles County’s Measure B, in 2012.

But this bill is about so much more than bareback sex.

Sydney Leathers

Sydney Leathers

Anti-porn activist Gail Dines told the Washington Times recently that a “Gulliver strategy” should be employed to take down the porn industry. “Tie them down piece by piece with legislation,” she said.

I don’t think this bill is about protecting adult performers from STIs; I think it’s part of a multipronged strategy — the so-called Gulliver strategy — to shut down the porn industry in California. Politicians have painted sex workers as victims in order to pass legislation such as Measure B and Prop. 35 that further criminalizes sex work, and I worry this is happening with AB 1576.

Local performers and producers are concerned about the bill because, as San Francisco-based performer and director Lorelei Lee says, porn production jobs will vanish. “If this law were to pass, the likelihood that you would actually see more condoms in your porn is zero,” Lee says. “Larger companies will probably move out of California, which displaces a lot of people’s jobs — not just performers but editors, janitors, and crafts services people as well.”

The bill “doesn’t take into account the system that we already have,” says Mickey Mod, another Bay Area performer. Performers are currently required to be tested for STIs every 14 days and be verified through the Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS) secure database. The new state mandate would require a slightly less comprehensive STI test every 14 days, as well as mandatory condoms for vaginal and anal sex. Though Mod believes the current system is adequate, 2013 saw five performers test positive for HIV, resulting in three industry-wide moratoriums on production.

It’s exciting to see lawmakers discussing the health and safety of sex workers, but I fear that lawmakers are not listening to the workers whom AB 1576 would actually affect. Independent and mainstream performers alike have been tweeting up a storm and road-tripping to Sacramento to speak out against the bill, yet it passed the Appropriations Committee in a nine-to-three vote.

Supporters of the bill claim that it is a move to keep performers in the industry safe, but Lee says, “The workers who will be affected by this bill did not have a voice in creating it, and the people it says it will protect, it will actually harm.”

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[…] I don’t think this bill is about protecting adult performers from STIs; I think it’s part of a multipronged strategy — the so-called Gulliver strategy — to shut down the …read more     […]

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