California Voters Might Weigh In On Condom In Porn Debate Next Fall

The debate over condom use in porn has reared its head yet again. According to The Washington Post, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said that California voters will likely be presented with a ballot measure on the subject next November. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has been pushing such an initiative, saying, "The No. 1 way that young people learn about sex in this day and age is pornography on the Internet...They're transmitting actual diseases, and the audience knows it."

Although sexually transmitted diseases are an undeniable threat to the health of all Americans, blaming porn for an increase in STDs is like blaming The Fast and The Furious for traffic accidents. Sexual education is a scientifically proven key to decreasing infection rates — not restricting what you can and can't watch two strangers do to each other on the internet. At the same time, regulations that keep performers safe are imperative (and there have been HIV outbreaks in recent years), but this current push has been viewed by some in the industry as punitive towards porn actors themselves, particularly because one stipulation of the proposed legislation allows any state resident the ability to sue over violations of the condom mandate.

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All that said, those whose voices need to be heard most in this debate are actual porn actors. While we can theorize for days about what porn does or doesn't influence young people to do or not do, these folks are the ones putting their bodies on the line every day to create the fantasies that we consume. Porn actor and sex work activist Conor Habib has spoken publicly about condom use in porn, saying that although he always uses condoms on set, it should be up to the individual performer and not required by law. Business Insider reported that Stoya finds condoms make her job more painful. She unequivocally stated: "It’s my body. I decide what goes in and on it." James Deen is also against regulation, saying that he has yet to contract any STDs in his line of work, and "the idea of someone accusing my industry of needing further regulation is very insulting."

Although there are a few porn actors who are in favor of the suggested law, most find it violates their freedom of expression and their right to bodily autonomy, and, at the very least, it's time legislators took their perspectives into account.

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