Three Arguments Against Requiring Condoms for Porn Performers

In general, I am in favor of the increased use of condoms in adult films.

The thirty day rule is far from perfect. It has, unquestionably, decreased risk for porn performers. It also has its flaws.

Testing alone is not a foolproof way to prevent disease. That's particularly true in what can be, but is not always, a high risk environment.

However, adult film performers have made some compelling arguments against requiring condom use in their workplaces. I may not agree with their conclusions about regulation, but I can't deny that they make some valid points. Surprising to no one else as much as me, it's possible that these arguments could win me over.

1
Requiring condoms may reduce the emphasis on testing

Chlamydia screening smear test
undefined

There is no arguing that the adult film industry in California has put into place powerful safeguards around testing. They've created their own testing body that implements regular testing for performers. In many ways, by doing so, they've made themselves safer than much of the general population. In the world of unpaid sex, many people don't get tested for years! 

There is a legitimate concern that requiring condom use would decrease the focus and emphasis on regular testing. That would be a shame. Condoms are great, but they don't protect against everything. Furthermore, even if they were required, it's unlikely they'd be required for oral sex. That's another thing that is a potential risk. 

Testing helps performers make informed choices about their health. Condom requirements may encourage rote behavior over information. 

More »

2
Increasing Condom Use in Adult Films Could Potentially Make Sex Riskier

Lubricant
(c)2014 Elizabeth Boskey licensed to About.com, Inc.

 In general, condoms make sex safer. In fact, for the population at large, consistently using barriers during sex is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of an STD. That's likely true for adult film performers as well. 

However, people who work in porn have a lot of penetrative sex. Sex with condoms is substantially more chafing -- even with the use of lubricant. The condoms reduce the risk of exposure when they're used, at times when they are not being. When they're not being used though, the damaged caused by the increased friction could make individuals more susceptible to other infections. That could be during oral sex encounters or during sexual encounters outside of the work setting. 

More »

3
Requiring Condoms in Porn Could Push The Industry Underground

Woman emerging from mud
Woman emerging from mud. Henrik Sorensen / Stone / Getty Images

To me, this argument is the one that simultaneously makes me the saddest and seems most cogent. Performers are legitimately concerned that if California starts requiring condom use in pornography, the industry will go underground. If the industry goes underground, it's likely that existing safeguards will go with it. There will be less testing. Performers will be at increased risk. 

If we lived in an ideal world, maybe things would be different. If sex work was regulated at a national level by OSHA, rather than criminalized, maybe performers would have more leverage. Unfortunately, in most places, sex work is part of the underground economy. Adult film performers and other sex workers have few if any protections. It's entirely understandable that they would be concerned about losing the few they have fought so hard for. 

The California adult film industry moving underground would definitely be a bad option. It's not like those jobs would go away. 

Adult Film Performers Are The Experts in Their Own Lives

I have strong opinions about the importance of reducing health risks for sex workers. However, I also recognize that sex workers are experts in their own lives. That's why I applaud those who have contributed their voices and expertise to the discussion. The industry can be degrading and exploitative, but so can the government and legal system. Safety doesn't only come from the outside, and many outspoken performers have made a compelling case against regulating condom use on the job.

In Their Own Words:

Continue Reading