Bareback porn

 

Early this past March, the L.A. Times wrote about a new city ordinance requiring porn actors to wear condoms during filming.

The Los Angeles City Council approved the ordinance in January, following several high-profile instances of porn performers becoming infected with HIV. The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has been advocating for the public health measure for years. The ordinance is believed to be the first of its kind. It requires adult film producers, when seeking a filming permit in Los Angeles, to have actors wear condoms. The porn production companies, which are largely based in the San Fernando Valley, opposed the ordinance. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is now collecting signatures for a countywide initiative, said President Michael Weinstein. “This is definitely a milestone in this long battle for safety in adult films, but we still have a long way to go,” he said.

The initiative, which was organized by the AHF, feels they have won an important victory. The porn industry argued that the consumer will not go for it. What will be the end result remains to be seen. Will studios simply opt to move their production to cities with less stringent laws? Or will they ignore the ordinance? AHF stated they will be performing “spot” checks to ensure studios remain compliant, but as one commentor stated, it would be difficult since many films are not staged in studios but on location. 

After the peak of the AIDS epidemic, condoms starting showing up in porn, but not just gay porn but ALL porn. It seemed the industry recognized the impact of their films and was attempting to promote a healthier attitude toward sex. Over the years, HIV has become a chronic, more manageable disease, and bareback films have seen a rise in popularity, mimicking a climate among men who have sex with men who complain of “condom fatigue”. Although safe sex films are mainstream, barebacking has re-emerged by popular demand. Porn studios in Los Angeles argued that AHF’s initiative goes against their civil liberties, stating that if two consenting adults agree to engage in unsafe sex during a movie shoot then that should be their choice. AHF argues that the mandate protects performers who might opt to take roles in bareback films because the pay is higher. 

Some studios based outside of Los Angeles, like Treasure Island Media, have jumped on the bareback bandwagon and have even taken it a step further, showing multiple partner condomless penetration even with exchange of bodily fluids. Some have raised the question whether an all HIV positive cast should be required to wear condoms. If that’s the case, the question that comes to mind is if the cast is already HIV positive is it necessary to show them using a condom or does serosorting in adult films falls outside the parameters of AHF’s initiative? 

My own opinion is no. AHF’s initiative is set up to protect actors not only from HIV but all STD’s including Hepatitis A, B, C, syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlaymdia, herpes and the Human Papilloma Virus.

But let’s take a step back. Is it the porn industry’s responsibility to promote safe sex when the genre was establish to oppose mainstream films? Isn’t porn the punk rock of music?

During the 1960-1970’s there were crops of films that dealt with adult content that weren’t considered porn but were given an X-Rating. Films like Midnight Cowboy starring John Vioght received an X-Rating for its subject matter. The sex in the movie was more along the lines of a late night movie on Showtime but with a great story and good actors. The film, which came out in 1969, went on to win three Academy Awards including Best Film. But it was 1969, well before the peak of the AIDS epidemic. Condoms weren’t part of our social dialogue. Since then, HIV has emerged as the most deadly sexually transmitted disease of our time with over 600,000 deaths since 1981. Isn’t it time for Hollywood to share the burden of responsibility?

Whether you’d like to admit it, you’ve seen a romantic comedy. You know those films with Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigel. We all know the story: boy meets girl, girl falls on the ground, boy picks her up, they laugh and then cut to them lying in bed, breathlessly post-orgasmic. Rarely, if ever, does the script call for these actors to suggest condoms were used. 

Remember movies like 9 1/2 Weeks or Body Heat?

They just don’t make movies like that anymore, possibly because these  films relied on fantasy, domination/submission, passion and arguably the rawness that spontaneous, condomless sex exudes. This is exactly what porn producers are referring to when they argue that the public won’t go for it. Hollywood could make the same claim. No one would pay to see Brad Pitt pull out a condom before he banged Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club. The public just wouldn’t buy it. And yet, by mandating that porn producers use condoms, we’re saying that with regard to certain public health issues, pornographers don’t have the same rights as Hollywood.

Now I’m not condoning condomless porn, particularly since the fastest rising rate of HIV sero-convertors is among men who have sex with men ages 13-29 years old. These young men are probably watching porn. It has been suggested that gay men learn about sex through pornography. 

But what about young females?

My friend Kelly called me one night crying after she was told by her GYN that she had contracted the Human Papilloma Virus and had a highly dysplastic Pap smear. She met a man on eHarmony and had been dating him for several months. Like most girls her age, she thought she was in a monogomous relationship. The truth is she probably was, and like many girls, Kelly decided to go on the pill instead of using condoms. Her boyfriend probably had HPV and didn’t even know it. When I asked her why they didn’t use condoms, she stared at me like I was speaking Mandarin. Many girls like Kelly don’t consider the possibility of contracting an STD when they’re in monogomous relationships. Most girls like Kelly aren’t taught to protect themselves by using condoms and think that if they’re in a monogomous relationship then they’re safe from STD’s. Maybe if Katherine Heigel pulled out a condom out of her purse in one of her movies, Kelly might have thought twice about just using the pill. Come to think of it, the last time I saw  a woman on film pull out a condom out of her purse I was watching Kim Cattrall in Sex and the City. Unfortunately, she’s the slutty one. Kelly underwent a colposcopy followed by a LEEP procedure and now has a normal Pap.

 

Kelly’s story had me worried about my own niece. She’s thirteen and a huge fan of the Twilight films. I watched the last one and thought, wow, Bella married Edward and got pregnant with a vampire baby that started to feed on her from inside the womb. I wondered what kind of message that was sending to my niece – have sex with the wrong guy and get something that can eat away at your cervix like HPV? 

I doubt that’s what the Twilight author, Stephanie Meyers had in mind. But shouldn’t Edward have known better? I mean he’s like hundreds of years old. And imagine how the story would have ended if Bella had been taught to protect herself by using condoms. She might not of had to become a vampire. Regardless of whether or not Stephanie Meyers was using vampirism as a metaphor, a young girl made a sexual decision that changed the course of the rest of her life.

And she wasn’t even watching porn.

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