Post Classifieds

Adult film industry must mandate safe sex

By Ryan Gilbert
On September 8, 2011

The adult film industry hasn't been able to get it up for a week, ever since a performer who has not been publicly identified tested positive for HIV during a voluntary visit at a health facility outside of California. The Free Speech Coalition, a Los Angeles-based adult film industry trade group, recommended the industry-wide shutdown last week, but has since lifted the moratorium after the performer was retested with negative results.

I'm sure the performer and those who make their living in the adult film industry have had their "whew, close call" moments and are thankful to be going back to work. But their collective sigh of relief hasn't hushed the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and others from urging health and safety officials to mandate condom use in adult films and force filmmakers to submit to periodic inspections.

I applaud the activists who are gathering signatures for a petition to put a measure on Los Angeles' June 2012 ballot that would legislate this mandate and limit the city's filming permits to companies whose performers use condoms. It's time to wrap it up.

I'm sure some will consider this proposal a meddling and offensive example of government overreach. I'm also convinced that some will indulge in their Orwellian-inspired paranoia, and think of this quarrel as one that will inevitably result in a "slippery slope" decision with more civil liberties and freedoms being snatched away from good, hardworking Americans. Apparitions of President Obama and other government teat-sucking liberals celebrating in the streets might race through some minds. However, industry self-regulation hasn't been handled effectively, so it's time for government to be a proverbial cockblock.

Adult film performers and producers have adopted a mindset that accepts voluntary testing every 30 days as an appropriate method of HIV and STD prevention. This isn't just nonsensical – it's alarming and possibly unlawful.

According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, the California Occupational Safety and Health Act (Cal/OSHA) has jurisdiction over virtually all employers in California, including those in the adult film industry. Cal/OSHA "requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employers" and has a "bloodborne pathogens standard" that "requires employers to use feasible…work practice controls to protect workers from coming into contact with blood or other potentially infectious material." Judgment aside, we can agree that health classes taught us one thing: you don't screw around with semen and blood.

Workplace precautions and obligations are not extraneous to us, even those of us who still passionately defend self-liberty and autonomy. Medical professionals are required to wear gloves when handling blood and bodily fluids. Construction workers are required to wear hard hats, face shields and safety-toed footwear. We expect those who cook our food to wear gloves. We expect our firefighters and police officers to wear protective gear. We're all required to wear seatbelts when we're driving. You can see where I'm headed with this. Most people who argue and complain about government overreach annoyingly do so at their convenience, as if they're calling a customer feedback hotline. That's their prerogative. I'd prefer to address the issue with a bit more accountability.

According to CBS News, Americans spend around $10 billion a year on adult entertainment. That's not pocket change, and it's especially important to recognize the influence adult films have on young people. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, "WARNING! Adult Content! Must Be 18 Years Or Older To View" is saran wrap shredded by an adolescent's hungry libido. Is it credible for them to be learning anything from watching pornography? No. But it is reasonable to accept that impressionable young people are picking up certain social signals from these videos.

The National Health Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has stated that rates of smoking among youth is "unacceptably high," and it promotes that less young people will be inclined to smoke if there are less youth-friendly films depicting their lead characters with cigarettes. By the same token, there's no harm in one of the social prompts coming from adult films being "use a condom when having sex."

The adult film industry is a capitalist's wet dream. The demand is there and the money is flowing in. Condoms are cheap, easy to supply and are effective at preventing HIV and reducing the risk of transmitting STDs. If the industry covets "professional" designation, then it must hold itself to true professional standards of health safety and decency. 

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