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Should Porn Stars be REQUIRED to Wear Condoms?

Sex

Pro-safe-sexers say yes, pro-rights activist say no. Where's the line on safe sex in adult films?

For the most part, the sex industry tries its best to stay out of the public eye, but every so often something happens to thrust the porn industry into the forefront of public conversation and news media. Whether it's the case of a celebrity being caught with an adult performer, an estranged hotel-room murder mystery, or another dreaded outbreak of HIV among porn stars, as is the case that prompted this article.

During the past week, at least one adult actor/actress tested positive for HIV, which has reignited the debate on whether or not adult performers should be required to use condoms in adult films. The argument has gained so much support for condom use in adult films that the state of California is working to get the issue put on the ballot.

As Americans, we naturally don't like to be "required" to do anything, regardless of the situation. We may all agree on something, but thanks to our fabulous constitution we revel in our right not to have rules enforced upon us. And, as is the case with legalizing abortion and medical marijuana, the people who oppose it aren't necessarily affected by the rule or law against it.

The common sense answer is yes, people should wear protection when they have sex. But "should wear" and "required to wear" have completely different meanings and come with different fallouts. To get a better understanding of how normal Americans feel about this issues I polled a few people on Facebook and started a discussion around the office. While most of the responses are from people under 40 years old, the results are almost equally divided with each side having their own legitimate reasons for coming to their conclusion. Here are a few responses to the question: Should porn stars be required to wear condoms?:

"Yes, to promote sexual health!"

"No, nobody should be required to do anything, but everyone should be responsible about it."

"Yes, morally. No, legally."

"Yes, employers have a responsibility to their employees' safety."

"Major porn companies should be encouraging viewers to use condoms explicitly in a variety of ways not the least of whites should be using them in their films."

"No, I've heard porn stars say they mostly have sex with other porn stars because of the fact that they're tested so regularly."

"If an agency wants to require condoms, fine. But requiring the whole industry to wear condoms is unconstitutional."

From what I've gathered, those who are pro-condom use in adult films are advocating for the promotion of safe sex in adult films and the protection of the health of the adult actor/employee. Those who are against the law are advocating on behalf of individual freedoms and constitutional protection. Either you're pro safe-sex or pro individual liberties--now that's one heck of a battle.

Those who know me will attest that I have been and always will be an advocate for safe sex and condom use, but I'm also smart enough to know that you don't fix a problem by treating the side-effects of the problem. Let's look at a few of the reasons why I think it's obviously a waste of time and money to make condom use in adult films mandatory.

HIV cases in adult films are low compared to the rest of the public. Did you know that there were roughly 22 cases of HIV in porn stars between 1998 and 2003? TWENTY-TWO! That's all. I'm not trying to suggest that 22 is a low number, or that it's not worth fretting over. However, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that approximately 50,000 people contract HIV every year. So for the five years that the porn industry saw 22 new infections, the rest of America saw 250,000. Of those affected in 2009, 2,223 were under the age of 20 and a staggering 17,347 new infections were reported in people over the age of 40! And all the porn industry saw was 22 new cases in five years? I think it's time to stop lobbying for protection for porn stars and start lobbying for protection of adults over 50 and children in schools who aren't being taught safe-sex.

It defeats the purpose of porn. Porn is suppose to serve, to some regard, as fantasy. Some use it as a way to share a sexual experience with their partner, or to get turned on and jumpstart desire.  Or because it's a fun, sexy thing to do. The men and women who watch porn tend to do so in order to experience something that they are lacking in their own lives, even if just for that moment. The simple act of seeing a condom in an adult film can subconsciously trigger the viewer's mind to turn away from pleasant thoughts of fantasy toward unpleasant associations with the need for condom use. It can cause the viewer to wonder whether or not the person they are watching in the film has a disease, and if they do have a disease then why are they still doing porn? Or maybe the man in the film insisted on wearing a condom because he's not really into the person he's having sex with. These questions and random thoughts can pull the mind away from the film and ruin the fantasy.

It ultimately comes down to the person taking the risk. Everyone who thinks condoms should be mandatory in adult films always seems to start their argument with, "Yes, they…" As if by lumping the entire population of individuals who make up the porn industry into one group somehow depersonalizes the issue. Well, it doesn't. It's not "they" who are the problem. In fact, "they" get tested way more often than the general public. "They" either chose to work in the industry or choose to stay working in the industry. "They" typically have to sign a waiver before each film that indicates that they know what they're doing, that they understand the risks, and it turns out that many of them are willing to participate anyway. "They" have a choice in what films they do, who they sleep with, and whether or not to use a condom. And while "they" are much more familiar with STDs, much more educated about the risks of safe sex, "they" continue to do what they do because "they" either love their job or love the money, and whether we like to admit it or not, WE love to watch them in action.

Bottom line: It should not be mandatory to require porn stars to use condoms in adult films. It is a great idea, but it should not be a requirement. Yes, there are risks, but there are people who knowingly take those risks while at the same time make almost every effort to stay clean or at least stay on top of their status. If the goal is to create an awareness campaign that works, then what should be mandatory is safe-sex education in schools and safe-sex discussions on television and on news programs for ALL ages of Americans.

 

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