Law and Sexuality

A commentary and resource on Law and Sexuality by Professor Chris Ashford and guests

#noprop60 RIP Condomless Porn?

tumblr_obr9ht2la11r7l6vro1_500Whilst the Trump v Clinton Presidential race may have secured a blip on your radar; California is seeing another political race that will re-shape the legal landscape of that State and have an impact not just across America, but also the world.  It may even impact on you.

Proposition 60 is a ballot measure that – if passed – will require condoms to be used in pornography produced, distributed and streamed in the State of California.  Whether the porn you watch is gay, straight, trans or queer it will be affected.  The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Bill is likely to have long-lasting and global implications if passed.

Consumers are choosing bareback porn and industry screenings and health developments such as PrEP have made the porn industry arguably safer than it has ever been before, but all that counts for nought under this proposed law.

Anal sex is clearly covered in the text of the Bill but so poor is the drafting that it’s unclear whether other forms of sexual activity are or are not covered.  Watching folks give blow jobs whilst wearing protective eye goggles will certainly add a new dimension to the porn industry.

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Of course the porn industry is opposed to the new law, but so too are many performers and LGBT groups.  Moreover, the law has united both the Democratic Party in California and the Republican Party in the State against the law.  Such is the ballot measure system, that even if the elected politicians in the State are opposed to the law – and they are – the law will still come into effect if a majority vote in favour of the ballot.

Ahh you might say, the elected officials will just make sure that the law won’t actually be upheld.  Not quite.  In a move that will leave constitutional lawyers and believers in democracy scratching their heads, the law – which is drafted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and their director, Michael Weinstein – will appoint AHF and Weinstein to apply the law if the elected government fails to.  It’s an astonishing anti-democratic power grab.

Professor Hadar Aviram (UC Hastings College of the Law) has provided a brief and neutral overview of the law in the following video which is well worth a look:

I’m not quite so neutral about this law.  It’s bonkers.  When I was over in San Francisco last month, I picked up the local LGBT newspaper, the Bay Area Reporter (BAR) just as I have so many times before.  I was greeted upon arrival at the Castro Metro station with posters for PrEP and these posters were repeated in BAR, funded by the local city council.  As I continued to flick through the paper, I was also greeted by a large AHF campaign advert opposing PrEP.  I think it’s pretty hard for those of us outside the USA to conceive of an AIDS Charity campaigning against PrEP.  This is an institution that believes the only answer is condoms.  A dogmatic fixation on one approach at the expense of ‘what works’ and reflects the real lives of people helps nobody except the AHF.

Being America, both sides in the campaign have produced videos.  Here’s one ‘yes to prop 60’ advert which is so OTT that it’s slightly comedic.  Not, I presume, the intended effect.

Meanwhile, the No to Prop 60 campaign, which seems to be gaining momentum on social media, has produced this video, focusing on the issue of worker harassment:

The practical effect – let’s be clear about this – of passing this proposed law will be to wipe out most of the porn industry in California.  It will relocate to other states or move abroad where that’s an option.  Smaller queer producers will simply have to pack up.  Large studios such as kink.com with a significant physical presence in the State will be forced to pack up and move.  Those videos that are streamed live into your UK home from California will end abruptly as the studio finds a new multi-million pound base.  Studios such as Treasure Island Media which have historically been shaped by, perhaps as much as they have shaped the cultural space of San Francisco and California, will be forced to find a new home.  It will cost California millions of dollars in lost revenues and cause untold misery and upheaval for many.  Other industries in music, design and printing will also be affected.  This is a moralising anti-porn measure dressed up as an occupational health law.  Don’t be conned.

x240-eguNor can we even dismiss this Proposition as so clearly a bad law that it won’t get passed.  This was the Proposition 8 argument.  Prop 8 was passed in November 2008 and defined marriage in the State of California as being between a man and woman.  It swept away same-sex marriages overnight as couples woke to discover they were in a new legal limbo.  Polls suggest that most California voters back Proposition 60.  If that translates into votes, the porn you watch is at best going to change, at worst, it will disappear.  When and if that happens, you can bet – like Prop 8 in 2008 – a lot of people are suddenly going to be finding that they need to learn about Prop 60 and wish they’d been part of the movement to oppose the measure.  This time, you can still make a difference.  Check out the no campaign here.

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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