A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests
John Manuel-Andriote is the latest to weigh in on the LA condom law battle. He uses his article on the Huffington post website to address the issue of depictions of bareback sex in m/m films. he notes: In a 2005 meeting in San Francisco, sponsored by the city’s Gay Men’s Community Initiative, a group of 70 men discussed sex, including porn videos. They spoke frankly. “Twink barebacking is reprehensible, using kids, paying them to risk their lives,” said Titan Media vice president Keith Webb of the growing number of porn movies depicting unprotected anal intercourse. Such films “fetishize internal ejaculation,” he said.
‘Several of the men pointed to Treasure Island Media’s 2004 title Dawson’s 20-Load Weekend as an example of irresponsible gay filmmaking for its celebration of what most rational people would deem suicidal behavior. The company’s website boasts of a worldwide demand for the movie, tantalizing buyers to pony up $49 with promises of forbidden scenes of a “fresh young man” who “goes from being a barebacking newcomer to a true Power Cumdump as he takes on man after man after man.”
‘Treasure Island cameraman Nick Stevens defended the movie in the forum. “Our movies are for models to have sex the way they want,” he said. “Why should we not film that?”‘
OK, so a forum including market competitors to TIM objected to their films. Err, well they would wouldn’t they? It’s also interesting to see that TIM did engage in this debate back in 2005 and the market has meant ever more companies have re-focused to bareback production since. This all seems to support Stevens and his assertion that it’s the way folks – not just models actually – want to have sex, and the kind of sex they wish to bear witness to.
Manual-Andriote uses his piece to assert that ‘safe sex is hot sex’ (if you need telling something is hot, and you tried it not realising it was hot, it wasn’t) and argues that ‘endangering other men’s lives for the sake of a fantasy has no place in the life of a truly proud gay man or in his erotic entertainment.’
The final statement is crucial in explaining the gulf between the barebackers/reckless risk takers and ‘condom Nazis’/community safety activists for it pre-supposes that the films represent ‘fantasy’ which clearly they do in many respects but perhaps the most authentic element of the film is the bareback sex, the visible ceremonial display of semen strewn bodies and buttocks. Yes, a film like Dawson’s 20-Load Weekend seeks to place on barebacker on a pedestal – a champion among deviants, but bareback – and TIM – more generally offer up bareback as a depiction of true desire. If condoms represented true desire, they would arguably be embraced.
If the pro-condom lobby want to succeed in shifting attitudes they must recognise that the safety/fun equation has to shift. Men used condoms when the risk/harm element outweighed the fun aspect. In the modern world of HIV/AIDS treatment, that equation was re-calibrated and so too were the condom habits of men. Draconian laws can not, and will not therefore succeed in truly removing bareback sex. It will merely serve as an Orwellian attempt to define contemporary condom truth.