What Fighting the New California Porn Law Taught Me About Porn Stars — And Politicians

Jun 26, 2014
AB1576
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A terrific post by Mike Stabile on The Eros Blog — 

For the past year, I’ve been working with performers and producers to fight AB 1576, a new California law that threatens to change the porn industry forever. Among a litany of other regulations, the law would make it illegal to shoot a porn film without a condom, effectively pushing the industry back underground and making production much more dangerous.

Adult film stars deliverying a petition to Isadore Hall’s office. L to R: Alex Chance, Mia Li, Anikka Albrite, Charli Piper and Nina Hartley.

Adult film stars deliverying a petition to Isadore Hall’s office. L to R: Alex Chance, Mia Li, Anikka Albrite, Charli Piper and Nina Hartley.

I’ve attended Assembly hearings and spoken with legislators about the bill, I’ve talked to lobbyists in Sacramento, and with interest groups like the ACLU, and with journalists like Dan Savage. Mostly, though, I’ve talked with performers. And I’ve come to one conclusion: for an industry based on looks, porn has an image problem.

Think of it as short-skirt syndrome. No matter how progressive, how enlightened about sex work, or how much they claim to support women’s rights, there’s an assumption that any woman who makes a living with her body isn’t in control of her mind. In fact, it’s the opposite.

The bill comes for it’s first hearing in the Senate today. Even the most tapped in insiders don’t know how it’s going to go. But based on six months of fighting it, here’s what I can tell you:

Porn Stars Know Their Bodies Better Than You. Much Better.

Everyone — press, politicians, feminists — act like porn stars have never thought about STI’s, HIV or sexual health. To them, they’re just bobble-heads who lay back and think of Rodeo. But talk to a porn star and she’ll list out the off-set risk factors, the window-periods for tests, set protocol and condom preference.

Everyone assumes that female porn stars secretly WANT condoms, but can’t use them. But talk to most porn stars and they’ll tell you they’re not meant for use in a three-hour shoot, and that ‘condom abrasion’ — a painful condition that leaves a vagina inflamed or torn — can leave them more susceptible to STI’s in their personal life. Yet those behind AB 1576 tell the women it can’t exist — because they’ve never seen a study about it.

Science Doesn’t Matter. Emotions Do.

In October, I spoke with a journalist from a liberal news site about two performers who tested positive for HIV. It was fairly easy to show that they contracted it in their personal lives — multiple rounds of testing showed that no one they’d worked with on set had the virus — but despite this, the article suggested it was probable they’d gotten the virus on a set. I asked one journalist if the science was somehow not convincing. “Oh, I understand the science,” she said. “But it’s just the way I feel.” In the months since, I’ve heard this more times than I can count.

More at Eros Blog…

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