California Was Right To Reject 'Condoms And Goggles' Regulations


The government gives plenty of warnings to suicidal people who are thinking of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

More than 1,600 people have jumped to their deaths from the span since it opened in May 1937, according to the Los Angeles Times. Over the years authorities have added signage, emergency telephones providing instant access to counselors and most recently approved a suicide barrier that will make it more difficult for people to jump.

However, the fact remains that people determined to kill themselves will find ways to do it. Short of enclosing the bridge in a bubble, there's no way to completely stop bridge suicides. The best a responsible society can hope for is that efforts to make it more difficult to jump will cause suicidal people to think twice.

That applies to the porn industry, too.

On Feb. 18, California's Occupational Safety and Health Standards board voted 3-2 to reject an attempt to force porn performers to wear condoms, dental dams and goggles. The meeting room, which was packed with more than 100 adult industry performers offering testimony, erupted in cheers and applause when the board read its decision, The Guardian reported.

“These regulations were based in stigma rather than science, and would have severely hurt adult performers,” said Eric Paul Leue of the Free Speech Coalition, a trade association lobbying on behalf of porn industry interests. “We look forward to working with Cal/OSHA on sensible regulation that respects performers choices.”

Leue was echoed by Ela Darling, one of the porn stars who spoke at the hearing.

“This law denies bodily autonomy to an already marginalized population, and it denies us our voice,” Darling said.

Leue can invoke science while making an argument diametrically opposed to science, and Darling can use all the sexual politics buzzwords in the book. It still does not change the fact that adult sex performers are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Equally, the government doesn't have a great track record when it comes to attempting to regulate what people do in their bedrooms. That applies even when the bedrooms in question are crammed with cameramen, mic boom operators and directors.

Porn industry lobbying groups and performers say the current system, which tests performers every two weeks, adequately protects them from harm. It doesn't. While it's better than the previous system, which tested actors only once a month, it's been proven that the two week testing window doesn't keep performers from getting infected.

In 2013, the Los Angeles porn industry was shut down three times from HIV scares, with five different actors and actresses testing positive for HIV, according to the Los Angeles Times. All of them were registered with Performer Availability Scheduling Services, the system that manages testing and availability through a private database.

Performers are listed as available or unavailable to directors and casting agents who consult with the database, The Guardian explains. To protect medical privacy, it doesn't offer any additional information. It's up to the performers themselves to decide when and if they'll go public with the news of a positive HIV test. Some choose not to. Others announce their test results in the most public way possible, by broadcasting it to their tens of thousands of followers on social media.

After 2013's HIV scares, the porn industry shut down three more times in 2014, again due to positive HIV tests from actors.

“I don’t really worry. I just think it sucks for that person,” porn actor James Deen told a Daily Beast interviewer in the midst of another industry shutdown in 2014.

The interviewer wrote that to Deen the HIV scares seemed, "like a mild annoyance."

And so it is for most adult actors and actresses, until they're the ones who contract HIV.

It all comes down to personal responsibility. Like the Golden Gate Bridge's determined jumpers, adult performers are given plenty of opportunities to think about the consequences of their actions. No one is making any moral judgement or criticizing their lifestyle decisions, least of all government employee safety boards.

They're just arming performers with the facts. If those actresses and actors still want to perform without condoms, anything that happens is on them.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: The Guardian, Daily Mail, LA Times (2), Daily Beast, Business Insider / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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