October 22, 2012 08:56pm
Condoms, Porn, Measure B
Source: Adult Industry News
by: Will Jarvis
Why, I wonder, aren't the mainstream movie production companies and Hollywood studios joining with the porn community in open opposition to Measure B? If the government can tell porn companies what can and can't be in their movies today, they'll be telling mainstream Hollywood what can and can't be in their movies tomorrow.
And where are the womens' groups, the advocates of the rights of women? Measure B takes away a woman's right to choose what she does with her own body, forces her to do something she might not want to do. Why aren't the womens' groups up in arms over Measure B?
Maybe they think this doesn't affect them. But it does. It's not all that big a step from telling us what we can and can't do in our movies to telling us what we can and can't do in our lives. Measure B should be a concern of all of us.
Still, if a movie has a script, it is the writer who gets to decide which scenes have condoms and which scenes don't. It's the writer's call. That's the bottom line. Any interference by the government in the writing of a story is censorship. The First Amendment says the government can't censor, and that means the government can't tell a writer to put condoms in the script.
But, you may ask, didn't you earlier insist that the choice of whether or not to use a condom rested with the actresses and actors, that they got to make the choice? I did, and I stand by that. Let's reverse the position of our generic actress on the condom issue. Let's say she's one of the actresses working in porn today who insists on using condoms. That's her decision to make as an actress. So if there are scenes with condoms in a script and scenes without condoms, this actress can be hired for one or more of the scenes with condoms. Another actress who is opposed to condom use, or who doesn't care one way or the other, can be hired for the other scenes.
The writer writes the script, the dialogue, the action; he or she creates the characters, describes the sex scenes, and so on. The producer and director then cast according to the script. Just like a Hollywood movie for mainstream consumption.
And that brings us to a short story I wrote that was published in the book "Plural Loves" titled "Just Like a Hollywood Movie". It featured three bisexual characters, two men and a woman who lived together in a polyamorous relationship. (Polyamory is today what used to be called "group marriage" back in the swinging 1970s.) the female character is a former adult movie actress. In one scene, a flashback to the 1990s when HIV testing became a regular practice of the porn community, the actress has an HIV test, and wants her two lovers to be tested also. One of them doesn't want to. Shortly before this, he got drunk in a bar and picked up a guy who he then had unprotected sex with. Itís an emotional scene when he reveals this to his lovers, and when he does take the test and it comes back negative it makes the relationship of the three main characters stronger.
I mention this short story because I want to make it clear that I am not against condoms. If you're having sex with strangers, condoms are a good idea. A friend of mine, just about a year after being diagnosed with HIV took his own life. HIV is a serious matter. It is not something to be taken lightly. But, the risk of HIV transmission among porn performers is low, very low, and the HIV and Std testing done monthly within the porn community greatly reduces the possibility of an infection spreading.
So, yes, this is serious. Nobody wants to get AIDS. But government mandated condoms are not the answer. If the person or persons you are having sex with don't have any STDs or HIV, you can't get any STDs or HIV from them. Testing works well for us in the porn community. And it allows us to use or not use condoms in scenes as appropriate to the particular story being told. Sometimes condoms are appropriate; sometimes they are not.
Yet some would try to force condom use on the performers, including some in government. But, as we have established, a producer or director or anyone should not force a sex worker to do anything sexually she or he does not want to do.
And the use of force rule applies to government as well; the government cannot force its rules on sex workers, not if those rules would make sex workers do that which they do not want to do. The rules must go both ways.
Our modern laws regarding sex work trace back to England in the eleven-hundreds including a Proclamation by Henry II in 1161, one of many attempts to use law to control what women did with their own bodies, curb sexual appetites, and curtail the spread of "vice". In other words, 'Even though you're not hurting yourself or anyone else, we don't want you to do what you're doing for no other reason than we don't want you to do it. And we've got the power to make you comply, so you will comply or suffer the consequences.' Doesn't that seem like the use of force, or at least the threat of force, to you?
The same thing's still going on today, nearly a thousand years later; governmental and religious organizations want to control what women do with their own bodies. Politicians run for office on promises to restrict abortion rights, prosecute pornographers, and ban, or burn, books. This is use of force run amok.
Nearly a thousand years ago, the Romans built brothels on the banks of the Thames River across from London. These Bankside Brothels, as they were called, were the target of religious and secular authority from the early 1100s to the mid 1500s. Some of these laws were good, like the law against forcing a woman to be a prostitute, or the law that said that if a woman was a prostitute but wanted to leave the profession she should be allowed to do so. There were also laws, from time to time, and that changed over time, regarding wages and other operational matters of these brothels.
(Credit where credit is due: The information related here about the Bankside Brothels comes from an excellent book titled "Gutter Life and Language in the Early 'Street' Literature of England " by James T. Henke; Locust Hill press, 1988.)
So I'm not saying that all laws regarding Red Collar work are bad, but that any law must apply to not only the sex workers and those who employ them but also to the government that issues such laws. And this means that no government or governmental agency can use force, or the threat of force, to make a Red Collar worker do that which she or he does not want to do.
Sex work is unique. It is different from Blue Collar and White Collar work; it has its own rules. The unique nature of sex work must be recognized by the people and by the government for any meaningful laws to be applied.
How does Red Collar work differ? What makes it unique? Let me give you an example: Two adult movie actresses who were relatively new to the business met with a producer. He described the movie he wanted them to be in and also discussed with them the various sex scenes each would be in if they accepted the roles in the movie. The last scene the producer described involved the two actresses with each other. While neither actress was opposed to doing same sex scenes and had already done a few such scenes, they stopped the producer when he got to this point. 'We can't work with each other,' said one actress. 'Don't you know we're sisters?' said the other. (Or words to this effect; I'm not quoting verbatim here.)
The producer did not know this. Each actress had chosen a different surname for her "nome de plume" (or should that be "nome de porn")? To avoid this confusion in the future the two sisters adopted the same surname and went on to successful careers, starring in dozens of movies over the next ten years.
Try that excuse for not working together at, say, the accounting firm. The boss says, "Fred, you're working with Bob on the Sanchez account." Fred can't say, "I can't work with Bob. He's my brother." Well, he can say it, but he's gonna need a better excuse than that to avoid working with Bob. Yet in sex work, being a sibling of another performer is sufficient reason.
The unique nature of sex work is something that those outside of sex work don't understand. And when these outsiders try to enforce rules that make sense in Blue Collar and White Collar environments on Red Collar workers those rules just don't work. I'm not suggesting that the establishment of a pornocracy (that's a real word; Google it). Is necessary to advance the rights of Red Collar workers, but a simple understanding between sex workers and those who make the laws that govern sex work is necessary.
Porn performers are often likened to their brothers and sisters in mainstream acting. Often this is good but it is not always accurate. It's important to compare correctly. The comparison doesn't apply where condoms are concerned. Hollywood can fake it. We can't. We actually have to do, y'know, the thing we do. If it's a martial arts movie, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan can do their own stunts. Most actresses and actors, however, don't do their own stunts. Porn actresses and actors are more like professional athletes; we have to be physically capable of doing certain physical acts for the cameras.
Because our acts are choreographed (that is to say they are set forth in the script, and by the director on the set), we, the actresses and actors in adult movies, are probably closer to professional wrestlers than to mainstream actresses and actors. What the wrestlers do is fake, in one sense, but it's real in another sense, in the sense that it requires actual physical ability to give a good performance. Good porn performers, like good wrestlers, are convincing in what they do; the audience believes what they are seeing, believes, at least for a time, that what they are seeing is real.
For most porn fans, seeing a condom in a porn movie is like seeing the wires holding up the actor playing Superman in a super-hero movie; it spoils the illusion, the fantasy. Is the porn movie fan really going to believe that the big-boobed, blond who just swallowed a triple dose of the secret aphrodisiac formula and has thus become a raging nymphomaniac with an uncontrollable urge to fuck every red-blooded male in the city is going to stop and think calmly and rationally about using a condom? Or is going to wait for a guy to put one on? In a scenario like that, a condom would be ridiculous.
Okay, that plot's ridiculous too, but the point is that this character should appear to be out of control to make the scene convincing. The audience will buy it if the actress sells it, that is if she convinces the audience, at least for the course of the movie, that the character she's playing really is an uncontrollable nymphomaniac who'll fuck anyone and everyone.
Porn fans, or gropies (if rock stars have groupies, porn stars have gropies.) generally do not want to see condoms in porn movies. It's a turn off for them. Not for all, but for most. And forcing producers of porn to make movies that the audience doesn't want is stupid.
Let's revisit will's Widget Works. The company produces Blue Widgets, Red Widgets and Green Widgets. The blue and red widgets are selling fine but there's been a steady decline in sales of green widgets over the past six months and the company can no longer afford to produce green widgets. The company wants to make red and blue widgets because these widgets make a profit. But there's a new law going into effect that mandates only green widgets. No more red, or blue or any other color. Only green widgets. But the customers don't want green widgets. The sale figures prove it. What's will's Widget Works to do?
Fortunately, in the real-world, the porn community has the Us Constitution on its side and can show that the mandatory condoms law is unconstitutional.
Remember the "New" Coke, or Coke II as it was sometimes called? Seen any cans of "New" Coke on the store shelves lately? I haven't. "New" Coke came and went. Quickly. Anybody seen a Yugo or AMC Pacer on the road lately? Anybody still driving one? These vehicles also came and went quickly. I'm not saying they weren't good automobiles, but nobody seemed to want them.
The mandatory condoms proposal, if it became law, would force porn producers to make only "New" Coke, a product that few people want. The Law wouldn't even give the producers the option of making "Classic" Coke and "New" Coke; it would mandate only "New" Coke. Mandating only "New" Coke, or only green widgets or condoms-only porn movies is insanity.
The fact that we really have to do the physical act means that how we do it should be up to us, the performers.
And that brings us back to the choice of doing anal sex, or same-sex sex, or using a condom or not. No one outside of porn knows what it is like to be a porn performer therefore no one outside of porn can dictate to that performer what she or he can or cannot do.
The choice, as always, rests with the individual.
Send your comments, criticisms and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2012 will Jarvis. All Rights Reserved.
The moderately mythic will "Taliesin" Jarvis is a popular part time porn performer, pagan pundit, practicing polyamorist and prominent prosex partisan, as well as being addicted to atrocious alliteration.
He chronicles the wondrous and whacky world of porn, polyamory, swinging and other alternative sexualities in words and pictures.
Visit him at www.willjarvis.com and www.paganpleasures.com/talbio.htm and on Facebook