Porn Stars Get Behind Personal Choice by Opposing Condom Mandates

by Michelle Minton on October 25, 2010

in Nanny State, Personal Liberty, Precaution & Risk

The most recent case of porn actor testing positive for HIV has renewed calls (or at least media attention to the calls) for a condom mandate in all adult films produced in Los Angeles County.

Last year, activists at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation petitioned California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health and unsuccessfully sued the county Department of Public Health to put a condom mandate in place claiming that it was an issue of worker safety.

However, the decision should be left up to the production companies and the actors themselves to determine the best way to protect themselves, their companies, and their reputations.

While this latest case has certainly caused some concern among adult performers in California, most of the calls for a condom mandate are coming from outside observers. Furthermore, many actors, such as the renowned adult actress Nina Hartley, have come out against taking away the choice from performers:

“As someone who is still working on the camera myself, I don’t feel any safer with condoms,” she said at a hearing in downtown Los Angeles in June.

Many of the actors in the business oppose the proposed mandate for condom usage. Some even claim that condoms make exposure to HIV and AIDS more likely due to “rubber rash” and friction burns, especially for female performers.

Ernest Greene, a longtime director and Hartley’s partner, explains on his blog:

[A single scene amounts to] over two hours of intercourse in various positions with constant stops and starts during which male performer’s erections rise and fall, condoms frequently tear or unravel and the degree of latex abrasion on the internal membranes of female performers’ vaginas lead to micro-abrasions that make them more vulnerable to all kinds of STIs. Most condom-only female performers eventually abandon condom use, not under pressure from producers, but rather because of the constant rawness and end-on-end bacterial infections produced by countless hours of latex drag.

In addition to problems with enforcement, there’s also the problem of personal choice and freedom of expression. In the end it is the individual actor’s choice to get into the adult entertainment industry and their choice whether or not they wear a condom.

At the same June hearing with Nina Hartley, an adult film actor who goes by the name Jeremy Steele, put it best when he said:

“There is no way to make the industry risk-free. Making things safer does not make it safe. If you’re worried or paranoid, you should not be in this industry.”

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