Pornography and Measure B
Posted by Lauren
November 15, 2012
This post is part of a series about reproductive justice and the media done in partnership with Women, Action, & the Media.
Pornography is defined as any material that depicts explicit sexual organs or erotic behavior. Pornography is an art that has been around since ancient times. Sexuality is so innately artistic, after all. Feminism persistently argues that, “The personal is political” and yet again this catchy tagline seems to fit just right. Pornography is incredibly personal — the question arises of the role of the political in this massive enterprise. On election day, Big Brother seemed to intrude just a bit on the pornography industries turf, but with the best intentions… or so they say.
In America, every second over $3,000 is spent on pornography. Did you catch that? Every second. Every second over 28,000 people are looking at porn on the Internet (which is just a few thousand less than my entire college campus). Every half hour in America, a new pornographic video is produced. America loves porn and can’t seem to get enough of it. Porn is a multi million-dollar industry and a monumental representation of sexuality in our culture. (Just take a look at anyone’s Internet history!)
Measure B, a.k.a. the Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, was a highly debated issue on the most recent voting ballot in Los Angeles. It stipulates that in any pornography made in Los Angeles county, barrier methods (i.e. condoms) would have to be used on screen. It passed with 56% vote.
Of course, as a pro-choice Feminist, safe sex is something I stand for through and through. However, Measure B is a difficult issue for a number of reasons.
Proponents of Measure B argue that it reinforces safe sex practices to the viewers. The idea is that if the porn stars are wearing condoms, the viewer will want to wear condoms. (But could anything really make condoms sexier?)
Opponents to the bill dispute this position saying that pornography performers already are extremely safe in sexual encounters. Opponents of Measure B generally agree that the addition of condoms to the set may kill the fantasy for viewers, thereby hurting the LA Porn industry financially in the long run. Furthermore, Opponents of Measure B contend that this is nothing less than governmental intrusion upon civil liberties.
To say the least, this is a “hard” issue to debate.
Measure B at first glance seems to be a positive safety and health concern. Condoms are statistically and historically a fantastic form of contraception. It must be noted though that condoms aren’t perfect, they only are“Safer Sex” (The only “Safe Sex” is no sex). Condoms don’t protect from all STI’s and are less than 100% perfect in pregnancy prevention. Furthermore, for someone working in the industry using this form of contraception multiple times a day for hours on end — let’s say things can get a bit uncomfortable.
Those in the adult film industry are already required to be tested for STI’s every 14 to 28 days. Kylie Ireland, a porn star of nearly two decades and over 480 films, said in an interview on the subject, “I’m so clean, I squeak!” In the past ten years, the porn industry has had a ZERO percent HIV transmission rate. Measure B is a seemingly positive preventative action, but to many it is just on the line of mirroring Orwellian Big Brother censorship extremes.
James Deen, who I have recently learned is a pretty “big” player in the porn industry, gave a fantastic interview on the recently passed Measure B. Deen questioned that as Measure B is a legality issue in relation to, “fluid transfer”, does that include kissing? Next should the government ban pornographic kissing or require a device to kiss through? Furthermore, Deen noted that porn brings in a huge amount of money to the LA area. If sales begin to drop because the viewers don’t like what they see, surrounding towns and cities will welcome this industry with open arms for the enormous tax revenue. Deen compared himself to a stunt man for movies. In real life, seat belts and speed limits are always encouraged. Although in an action packed car chase in a movie, for the sake of entertainment, the situation is quite different. Deen advocated that in the real world condom use is necessary, but what the pornography industry creates is entertainment and art.
Currently Measure B is in play and actors in the adult film industry in LA must use a condom while on set. There are rumors of producers and directors attempting to appeal this measure, but we still have yet to see. There will likely be a legal battle over this measure before all is said and done.
Is Measure B actually in the best interest of safety for those involved in the industry? Or is this Big Brother dabbling into the most personal of issues? There seems to not be a, “firm” answer to this question yet. So continuously question the world around you! Answers to difficult questions such as these are rarely black and white!