As I posted last night, the overwhelming weight of AHF's money chest and their ability to buy useful boosters like Darren James and Derrick Burts were probably the chief factor...but one element that hasn't been covered is the appeal they made to be the universal "saviors" and "protectors" of the wayward porn girls against the evil, bad "capitalist" money grabbing "pornographers" who care more about their dicks and their money than girls catching sexually transmitted infections.
Also, there was the notion that the proponents for mandating condoms in porn were simply standing up for the functional liberal right of government to intervene with adequate regulation to tame a unruly and wild industry that eats women for lunch and spits them out "diseased" and rejected...just like the "sex traffickers" whom were similarly targetted by the statewide Proposition 35, which also passed last night. Those who oppose them are simply evil right-wing "libertarians" who want to privatize everything just to cover their "male privilege" of drowning women in tainted spooge. (Of course, the few women who defend noncondomized porn are simply dismissed as paid shills of the Capitalist Porn Conspiracy, or simply selfish, stupid elitist sluts who put their own pleasure above the "suffering" of real victims.
Now, if you think that this sounds exactly like the rhetoric of extreme antiporn/anti-sexwork "feminist" activists like Gail Dines, Shelley Lubben, and Shelia Jefferys, then you would be correct...but only to a point. There is a segment of slightly less virulent liberal/"progressive" feminism that doesn't go nearly as far as Dines in demonizing sexuality as inherently the will of The MAN, yet nevertheless goes pretty damn far in the paternalistic and restrictive view that it is perfectly fine and liberal to deny sex workers and porn performers their right to a choice of protecting themselves in the name of "safety" and "just regulation".
One such paternalist feminist is Amanda Marcotte, the renowned feminist liberal writer long associated with the blog Pandagon, and most recently a regular columnist for the pro-reproductive rights group RH Reality Check. Marcotte fashions herself to be a progressive "pro-sex" feminist who just loves to bash men -- particularly, the conservative kind -- for their convenient conspiracies to hold women down and repress their sexuality. And yet, she is also just as capable of occasionally going Andrea Dworkin on how men use pornography and sex work as an additional means of depraving women. And, she can be absolutely vicious in demonizing women who don't meet her exacting "sex-positive" standards, as her dissing of large and artificially enhanced breasted women shows. (Marcotte has also been zinged by plenty of feminists of color for her ceaseless appropriation -- some would call it outright theft -- of their struggles in order to maintain her "progressive" credentials...the 2002 "burqa" controversy with compatriot Jessica Valenti being another example.)
Anyways....Amanda decided to intervene herself into the Condoms In Porn debate with an essay for Pandagon (now integrated into the Raw Story site network) published in January of this year. Titled "Wah!", it pretends to debunk all of the arguments against mandating condoms in porn, and it utilizes pretty much all of the same talking points that Measure B proponents have appropriated during their campaign. I will present the essay in its entirity, for the purpose of breaking it down point by point. If this was the argument that sealed the passage of Measure B in LA County, then I'd say that we who oppose it should comprehend it better, so that we can debunk such nonsense when the next Measure B comes forth....as it inevitably will.
So, L.A. is once again looking at the question of whether or not to require condom use in porn filmed in the city. This was a question I was initially agnostic on, figuring that it was probably a complex argument and I should give both sides a listen before deciding. In taking that approach, I have discovered that the anti-condom arguments are some of the most piss-poor, illogical arguments I’ve ever seen. I was forced by the badness of these arguments to agree that mandating condom use is clearly the path, since it’s the only side that actually bothered to make an argument that wasn’t smoke and mirrors. Let’s take a look at each argument from the anti-condom side and see why they’re just so terrible:
But, I get ahead of myself...let's actually go over Marcotte's points, shall we??
1) It’ll cut into porn profits. This is really the only argument that the porn industry—like any industry fighting against labor protections—cares about. Everything else is hand-waving (though I will address it, because the hand-waving has sucked in many liberals, mostly men, for reasons that should be as obvious as they are embarrassing). This is a value judgment argument. The question is whether you value the health and safety of the porn actors more than the ability to move units of the producers. I tend to side with people over profits, and have yet to hear a conservative make a compelling argument for why they value profits over people.
Also...the implied depiction of porn consumers as mostly down-low right-wing men who simply hate on "independently sexual women" (or lefty porn-addicted men who just pretend to be feminist just to get them some free superior feminist pussy) kind of ignores the essential fact that plenty of porn consumers happen to be WOMEN, that not a few producers of porn are WOMEN, and that the overwhelming majority of women in porn just so happen to pursue their craft and protect themselves adequately enough to the point that they simply don't need condoms forced down their throat. Or, they already use condoms as one option in many to protect theselves. Surely, a professed liberal like Marcotte would actually be willing to listen to and respect actual professional porn performers who know their bodies and their jobs and are more than capable of controlling their own bodies for themselves, right??
I mean, if Sandra Fluke shouldn't be castigated by Rush Limbaugh as a "slut" for fighting for her right to have her insurance pay for her birth control, then why should Amber Lynn be castigated for defending her right to decide what goes in her vagina?? Besides, Amber Lynn is closer to Amanda Marcotte politically than Sandra Fluke, anyway.
Finally, since porn in California is a legal industry, they have as much of a right to pursue profits off their creative talent as Hollywood movies, TV, and sports teams do. I don't see Amanda hating on MMA athletes for the lack of headgear or movie stuntmen for the lack of "protection" when they risk life and limb performing stunts...or calling on them to be forced to sacrifice their livelihoods for the sake of "protecting" them from career- and even life-threatening injuries. There is already a movement for doing away with the profit motive...I believe it's known as "socialism". Since you are not a socialist, Amanda, you probably aren't qualified to run any smack about the evil of profits. Oh, and don't you make royalties from your many books??
2) The customers want this. This is the male entitlement argument. (Yes, I know women watch porn, but the porn industry that we’re talking about has a male customer in mind.) I know this will get me lambasted as some sort of man-hater, but I do think that men really aren’t entitled to any form of gratification they want, regardless of who they hurt. No one is. The law already recognizes this when it comes to porn. There’s a lot of customer demand for stuff that’s illegal or at least should be: high school girls, little kids, actual rapes instead of fake ones, serious injuries or even death inflicted on women, pictures where the subject explicitly did not give consent. There probably are some customers who will be sorely disappointed to see visible evidence of safety precautions on screen, but I’m honestly skeptical that they’re going to be so angry they just decide to boycott jerking off to porn. I remain strongly unconvinced that seeing a little latex in a porn is a greater tragedy than contracting HIV on a porn set.
As for Amanda's notion that porn consumers will get used to condomized porn ultimately....well, the evidence of what happened to porn production companies who tried going condom only after the initial HIV scare in 2004 proves otherwise. And, considering the abundance of bareback hetero porn that is now stored in millions of porn consumers' 3 terabyte hard drives, and the resulting underground trade that would immediately prosper and flourish through Bit Torrents and message boards once bareback porn production ceases, I figure that there will be no shortage of unwrapped dick available for those who still insist on it.
What will change, though, is that performers themselves will be forced to make the decision to: (1) either accept wrapping up and face the risk of either friction damage to their vaginas and anuses or allergic reactions to latex, or the real risk of condom breakage and inadvertant STI's because the testing and screening regime that had done so well to pAnrotect them will be totally eliminated and replaced with "Just shut up and take the condom, bitch, and trust us that your partner is clean"; (2) take their chances underground with fewer protections and greater chance of getting into really abusive and exploitative situations; or (3) simply leave porn and find some "rescuer" sugar daddy or mama to replace the income they have lost from not being able to shoot porn vids.
Now, I guess that Amanda figures that there will still be a market for wrapped porn as well, and there are some companies who still are condom only that do make a decent profit (Wicked, VIVID, Kink.com).But, those are still niche markets of specific subgroups of porn consumers that specifically ask for such content; simply inventing a forced market of condomized porn by criminalizing bareback will work just as well as tearing down freeways in order to force automobile drivers to switch to mass transit. Which is to say, it won't.
Amanda might also want to be reminded that the guy she references in the last link of that graph who represents the supposed threat of rampant HIV infection (namely, Derrick Burts) was not only not so responsible in his personal life (see Rentboy.com), but actually admitted that he was originally infected in a gay male porn shoot in Florida. A condom only gay male porn shoot in Florida, that is.
3) They’re just going to take porn shoots elsewhere. Really, liberals? This is the best you can do? This is actually a standard argument business always makes against labor protections. This threat has various degrees of seriousness to it, but even in serious cases, it’s an empty argument. It basically deprives the government of the right to protect people within their jurisdiction because they don’t have the right to do so in other jurisdictions. Governments should have a right to say, “This behavior is so wrong that while we can’t ban it everywhere, we can ban it here.” Often, once one jurisdiction does it, others soon folllow, especially with regards to safety regulations. Plus, I’m a little skeptical of the notion that the entire porn industry in L.A. will decamp to another location. They aren’t in L.A. just by accident, you know. The one thing the porn industry needs—more than latex-free dicks, even—is a steady supply of young people who don’t have a lot of money but put a lot of effort into their looks. The steady stream of people who come to L.A. to make it and then don’t is a gold mine for the porn industry. You’re not going to find that in Minneapolis. It helps if they can be convinced that doing porn could be the entryway into a career they want. The porn industry grasps this, which is why they take any porn actress who has a bit part in any Hollywood movie and trumpets the hell out of it, to keep the crossover dream alive. You’re just not going to have that in any other city. Look, the porn industry isn’t fighting this tooth and nail because they have a lot of options. They know that L.A. has them over a barrel on this, which is why they’re fighting so hard.
Alas, even that has now become diversified as the Internet, mobile phone, personal computer equipped with built-in webcam, and super duper fast wireless Internet has enable average folk to bust through the Porn Valley monopoly and create new avenues and venues for porn production. It's no longer San Fernando and Glendale that monopolizes porn production; it's also Phoenix, South Florida; Las Vegas, London, Budapest,Berlin, Moscow, Beijing. Hell, even Frisco is beginning to make somewhat of a comeback as a center of porn production.
Moreover, thanks to that same technology, any guy with a working 4G phone and access to his friendly paid website/tube site can download within seconds nice videotape of himself and his girl (or his girl only) banging other hot guys and girls. (Did I say "guy"?? Wait, I mean "guy and gal"!!) And, since that can be done within the privacy of home, where US Constitutional protections like the First Amendment do apply, the ability of government to intervene and control such matters is somewhat limited. Only a fascist or Maoist government would go through the trouble of jailing THOUSANDS of people for the "crime" of sexing without a condom...which is probably why the defenders of Measure B would prefer first using porn performers in LA as a test run for a national tour.
In addition, thanks to social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, prospective porn performers do not even need to hop planes to Hollywood (either CA or FL) in order to audition to do porn shoots. Sending their PornTube vids to prospective agents will suffice quite well...and it's cheaper than the plane ride.
Remember, Clones, private businesses can be regulated only if they are incorporated. If they are not, it gets a tad harder for any serious liberal to say that government meddling in intimate personal affairs is justified merely by a "threat" of harm. It is up to the person favoring the meddling to prove that the harm actually exists, and that it is bad enough to justify the meddling.
And besides, the real reason why the LA porn industry is fearing Measure B and fighting it tooth and nail isn't because they don't have options elsewhere (though those options do carry expenses and other risks that can cut into their bottom line). They are fighting this law for the same reason decent liberals like Amanda Marcotte fight against the "three strikes" law or pro-mass transit agencies fight against highway funding that gives preference to freeways and automobiles: to protect themselves and their livelihoods against being scapegoated against crimes that they are not necessarily responsible for. It's not only the principal of the matter, it's also the principle of protecting legal free speech.
I need not add the fact that the LA porn industry are made up of flesh and blood PEOPLE, right??
That would be the SECOND most batty justification for the condom mandate, in Amanda's mind. Here comes the winner:
4) Freedom of speech. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t really think that freedom of speech covers the right to avoid safety precautions for workers. Regular Hollywood has to follow labor laws with regards to their actors, and they have to deal with unions, to boot. The porn industry is exploiting the fact that the world doesn’t care very much about the people that work for them, and I’m glad that L.A. is stepping in and saying porn actors deserve the same kind of labor protections that we extend to other professions.
Secondly....if Marcotte was really serious about extending "the same kind of labor protections" to porn that are taken for granted by less stigmatized unionized workers, she would be supporting an explicit porn workers' union pushing for increased rates, better and more hospitable venues for shoots, royalties and residuals for performers who see their videos reused again and again without a cent of profit sharing, and especially health insurance to cover the off periods should a performer do get sick from an STI or anything else.
Third...it takes real ovaries for a woman who readily dismisses and disses the actual experiences and concerns of real live porn performers whom have lined up against Measure B and the condom mandate to even think of running smack about how "the porn industry is exploiting the fact that the world doesn't care about the people who work or them". It's really quite obvious that YOU really do care about them, right, Amanda??
5) It’s supposed to be a fantasy! Amanda Hess got a pretty standard version of this in her recent piece on the controversy:
“We’re selling a fantasy,” says Lisa Ann, 39, who enjoyed her own mainstream moment when she was cast as a Sarah Palin-type in Hustler’s spoof of the 2008 elections. “It would be great to teach young people to put a condom on during sex,” she says, but she’s not sure how much the porn industry should be responsible for educating teenagers.This is a bad argument for two reasons. The most important is that it’s a strawman. The regulations aren’t being written in order to “teach” condom use to teenagers. They’re protection for the actors on-set, to keep them from contracting STDs and especially HIV. But it’s also bullshit by its own measure. Porn producers are trying to have it both ways. Their main marketing strategy is that they aren’t fantasy, but are real. The sex is real, and they have frequent close-ups and particular emphasis on ejaculation being caught onscreen in order to make it clear that this is real and not a fantasy. Comparing this to explosions and car chases in real Hollywood movies is missing the point; everyone knows that the car chases and explosions are special effects. The whole point of porn is to say, “This is not a special effect, but actual people having actual sex.” The reason people choose porn videos over drawings or fictional sex scenes is the realness of it.
Ahhh...nu-huh. No. No, no, no. Fucking HELL TO THE NO.
First...let us dispatch this "Porn sex is intended to be REAL sex!!!" meme before it metasizes into something really gross. Porn sex is real to the extent that it depicts real people engaging in sex. But, that doesn't necessarily make it completely "real" in that it depicts sexual acts people would normally do. Rather, porn, like most art forms, is an extension of, an exaggeration of, real sex as experienced by its viewers.
That is....the performer who engages in professional sex scenes is an exaggerated vision, a fantasy extension, of the ideal of what an ordinary person wishes he had: the viewer who doesn't have the sexual chops of the performer or the ability to perform the positions or the stamina to endure 2 or 3 30-minute to an hour long scenes a day, where the guy has to maintain an erection in the midst of hot lights, a screaming director cutting in and changing positions, and a loud film crew overseeing every stroke and poke and suck and lick. (And, he has to look authentic even if he's not up do it, pun not intended.) It's no picnic for the girl, either, because she may have to block out other issues on her mind and focus on looking like the guy or gal boinking her is giving her the time of her life, and that the resulting orgasms are absolutely THE BEST EVER. ..And let's not also forget all this has to be done within a certain time period for editing and printing and distribution, or no one gets paid.
True, there is related advertising that takes advantage of the divergence between the ideal and the reality (see the erectile dysfunction, penile enlargement, and sexual enhancement drug spam, as well as the old tried and true "ADD 5 INCHES TO YOUR DICK, ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!!!!!1111ONE111!!! ads accompanying the tube site free porn. But even that does more to exemplify the dissonance between the reality of the viewer's actual sex life and the perception and assumption of instaneous and everlasting horniness of the performers and the scene he or she's watching (and hopefully, if the scene's successful, masturbating to). The actual sex is secondary to the scenarios and plots of these fantasies, that are obviously so way out and far fetched to occur for real. No teacher I know of will ever look like Lisa Ann or dress "slutty" like she does for My First Sex Teacher or Big Tit MILF Boss, and I guaran-DAMN-tee you that the real Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska probably did not pall around the Alaskan State Capital building showing off her cleavage and fucking the entire staff. That's why it's called "satire", folks.
And as for the "money shot"...that's more about actual proof of the man's orgasm and his arousal, as well as pregnancy protection, than any attempt at reality. And even that is mostly an exaggeration.....not many men watching porn will blow out like Peter North, you know.
Aaaaaaand....how ironic that Marcotte goes to that card, because if Measure B passes, and porn shoots are forced to follow the standard for "barrier protection" that the California branch of OSHA is currently preparing to impose on porn, then the only form of intercourse that would be protected would be....internal penile-vaginal sex. Talk about attempting to make porn more "real"!!
About that crack about the goal of the condom mandate having nothing to do with teaching "teenagers" how to use condoms, though?? Well, let's hear from one of the principal boosters of the condom mandate, Dr. Peter Kerndt, representing the LA County DPH (via Ernest Greene's seminal 2009 BPPA essay):
“The portrayal of unsafe sex in adult films may also influence viewer behavior. In the same way that images of smoking in films romanticize tobacco use, viewers of these adult films may idealize unprotected sex. The increasingly high-risk sexual behavior viewed by large audiences on television and the Internet could decrease condom use. Requiring condoms may influence viewers to see them as normative or even sexually appealing, and devalue unsafe sex. With the growing accessibility of adult film to mainstream America, portrayals of condom use onscreen could increase condom use among viewers, thereby promoting public health.”But, it's only all about protecting the brainless and stupid slut performers....right, Amanda??
The sense that porn is real means that it does have an impact on the viewers. Anal sex, Brazilian waxing, and facials have all become more common in real sex because of porn. I’m not judging that—to the extent that porn encourages people to experiment and have more fun in bed, I’m all for it, though some of the practices that have taken off have questionable value as pleasurable—but it is inarguable that porn has a normative effect in a way that stuff that doesn’t present itself as real doesn’t. Whether that should be used for good is up for grabs, but again, while this is all an interesting conversation, it’s also completely moot. The regulations aren’t about directing the message, but about protecting the workers.
It is hilarious, though, how Marcotte always goes back to the "It's all about protecting the WORKERS!!!" card as her lifeline....because we all know that only men in porn get STI's and then spread them to female performers through such nasty, misogynistic acts like anal sex and deep throating and facials and....ewwwwwwww....creampies!!!!
And we now come to the final point of Amanda Marcotte's fiat for mandatory condoms:
6) Condoms are uncomfortable. The argument is that since the actors are having a lot of sex, condoms “chafe” in a way that they miraculously don’t for us ordinary people. I think this is grasping at straws, personally, because a lot of ordinary people do in fact have bouts of condom-use sex that are intense and long-lasting and don’t seem to have this problem, at least if they use lube. But I also have to point out that the porn industry standardly asks women to cram multiple cocks into them, to have anal sex whether they’re up for it or not (and to make sure they’re up for it with fasting and heavy duty enemas—the kind of stuff that you don’t have to do when having ordinary people anal sex), or to have sex with machines. If keeping the actresses physically comfortable was important to them, porn would look completely different and probably be far less profitable. Which is why #1 is really the only argument in play here, and one that liberals who think you’re killing a puppy if you venture even the slightest criticism of the stuff they jerk off to should stop being so defensive and really think this through. No one is telling you that you’re a bad person for looking at porn. We’re just saying that the industry should be forced to take more precautions when it comes to the health of its workers. The utter indifference to the health of porn workers suggests that a lot of people think of them as second class citizens who can be used for sexual gratification and then disposed of. And if you do believe that, then yeah, I think you’re a bad person.
For the women, there are just four words: rubber rash/friction burn. Not only do I have to work harder for him to feel anything, the scene takes much longer to get through, with the changing out of condoms, needing to give the guy a break and suck him again, and the total passion-killer that is on-set condom use. It's hard enough to create a real connection, so the scene doesn't feel to the viewer like we faxed it in, on a set as it is. If all of our energy is focused on our working parts, there is none left over to actually connect and show a spark, which is what the people at home want to see...Or, to put it differently: Porn sex may be an exaggeration of real sex, but it is still sex between two (or more) human beings who have to connect with each other for the scene to work. Putting a condom between them not only screws up the chemistry (literally as well as figuratively, but it adds more time to the taping of the scene...and when time equals money, that can be a major buzz and erection killer for viewer and performer both.
...I know it sounds harsh, but it's not porn's job to set a good example to the viewing public. It's an entertainment medium like anything else out of Hollywood, and mainstream entertainment is not held up as needing somehow to set a good example. It's a shame that our country does such a piss-poor job of educating its young people so that they're driven to view porn to try to get a clue about sex. Except when a movie is expressly done as education-the Guides, Tristan Taormino's movies, etc., their job is to arouse and entertain, period...
It's really lovely, too, how Marcotte, who has spent nearly 1000+ words denying performers of their personhood and voice -- all in the name of "protecting" them, no less!!! -- now finds the time to be concerned about their being "physically comfortable"...and responds to that by drowning them with lube. As if there's absolutely no issue between mixing the wrong kind of lube with the wrong kind of condom. As if lube by itself will save a disasterous scene. Of course, the real message that Marcotte has for women performers who don't share her view of "rescuing" them with condoms is for them to just "Shut the hell up and wrap up for womanhood; you're selfish pleasure is killing other women and spreading deadly infections!!!" How in the hell is that any different than a stone cold radical antiporn feminist dissing a straight woman for sleeping with "the enemy" or a fundamentalist Christian ripping on a monogamous gay man for his "sin against God"??
Actually, it is NO different...except that at least the fundamentalist and the principled antiporn feminist is sincere in their principles. Amanda Marcotte, on the other hand, wants to be portrayed as an enlightened progressive hip sex-positive feminist; but her core attitudes towards real sex workers and actual pornographers as well as towards men whose only crime is to defend their sexual arousal towards these women, convicts her as exactly the opposite: a pretender. In short: Amanda Marcotte is Gail Dines, Jr....except without the principles.
But...I guess that to far too many liberal folk in Los Angeles County, that's good enough for them to buy the snake oil that is Measure B. Maybe authentic pro-sex/pro-porn progressives will learn to spot the BS and respond a tad quicker and more forceful next time around...and rest assured, there will be plenty of next time arounds.