If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from living in the UK it’s that government initiatives that prohibit people’s rights surrounding sexual content tend to have some form of ulterior motive up their sleeves.
It was certainly the case when our then Prime Minister, David Cameron, legitimized internet censorship through the guise of protecting vulnerable minors from pornography. It was also the case when pornography produced in the UK got hit with even more censorship in the name of adhering to ratings regulations (made even more problematic as the bans seemed particularly damning of female sex acts).
And now California is sadly following suit—trying to push through a state-wide ballot initiative that operates under the seemingly positive pretense of simply requiring performers to visibly wear condoms in adult films.
This ballot is known as Proposition 60 and it needs to be stopped.
What is Proposition 60?
On a surface level (we’re talking bare bones) Proposition 60 requires:
- Adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse.
- Producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations.
- Producers to post condom requirement at film sites.
If the current initiative passes then additional workplace health and safety requirements placed on adult film productions in California and additional ways to enforce those requirements will be put in to place, targeting producers directly (though distributors, talent agents and performers could also be held liable if they have a financial interest in the films themselves).
This initiative is backed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and its CEO Michael Weinstein (himself a figure of controversy), the California State Association of Occupational Health Nurses, the California Academy of Preventive Medicine, the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, the American Sexual Health Association, Beyond AIDS and the California Communities United Institute.
Those opposed to the initiative include the California Democratic Party, the California Republican Party, the California Libertarian Party, the San Francisco Democratic Party, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Transgender Law Center, Equality California, the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, the Erotic Service Providers Union, the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee and the Free Speech Coalition.
On the surface Proposition 60 may not sound terrible. In fact some might even consider it a positive thing. Safer sex practices are generally seen as essential, after all, and we’re all encouraged to use condoms and other barriers. Heck, I’m pretty much the queen of safer sex practices and always use condoms (despite being in a monogamous relationship for 10 years) as well as promoting them whenever possible.
I have a bajillion things to review and yet I just ordered a bunch of condoms to add to the list because safer sex practices make me wet.
— Emmeline Peaches (@EmmelinePeaches) September 23, 2016
However, as my own country has demonstrated, things are rarely so black and white.
The proposition may state that it’s about requiring provable condom use from performers and subsidized testing and ‘medical monitoring’ from producers but its method of enforcement are where the insidious implications of this proposition becomes painfully clear:
(e) To hold liable all individuals and entities with a financial interest in the making or distribution of adult films who violate this Act.
(f) To require adult film producers to provide notice of filming, to maintain certain records regarding filming, to post a notice regarding the required use of condoms for specified scenes, and to fulfill additional health requirements.
(g) To discourage noncompliance and encourage compliance with the requirements of this Act by requiring adult film producers to be licensed.
(h) To extend the time in which the State of California may pursue violators of the Act.
(i) To enable whistleblowers and private citizens to pursue violators of the Act where the State fails to do so.
I highlight sections (e) and (i) because this is where shit essentially hits the fan.
Y’see while Proposition 60 may have been in place since 2012 this new initiative is essentially trying to ‘crack down’ on those that it considers to be offenders and it’s trusting anyone to enact this initiative. This means that anyone can essentially bring legal action against producers under the pretense of being a well-intentioned ‘whistleblower’ whereas their motivation may have very little to do with the well being and autonomy of those in the adult industry.
In fact this is likely to be the norm, as Proposition 60 is perfectly primed to allow anyone who opposes (or obsesses) over pornography and its performers to punish the industry through the use of this proposition. It’s essentially a law that justifies the exposure and harassment of performers and puts their very safety at risk.
How is This Possible?
While Proposition 60 would like the public to believe that their is a clear cut line between producers and performers the adult industry is actually much more complicated, with performers often transitioning to become content creators themselves or maintaining both roles in tandem. One need only think of cam girls to gain an easy example of this.
In fact a lot of performers who produce content too are usually those most conscious about worker rights, safer sex practices, and the autonomy and individual worth of performers. And yet these individuals are the ones whose careers and personal choices are at risk due to the wording and implementation of Proposition 60.
If Proposition 60 comes in to effect then any whistleblower will suddenly have free reign to bring legal action against these individuals and to jeopardize their privacy and safety. This is because anyone who faces charges under Proposition 60 must disclose the address at which filming took place, the dates on which it took place, the producer’s name and personal contact information, the name and contact information of any talent agency involved, and ‘Any other documentation or information that the Division or Board may require to assure compliance with the provisions of this Act’ (so pretty much anything they want if it is considered necessary to the case).
I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you why this is a bad idea but, to hammer the point home, this law basically allows strangers to expose the legal name and contact details of producers and performers in the industry on a whim to do with what they wish. Not only that but if the producer is found to be liable then the whistleblower can receive up to 25% of any penalty paid, essentially getting rewarded for putting performer’s safety at risk.
The Voices That Matter
While I am no fan of the UKs own attack against the adult industry, there is a particular irony when it comes to Proposition 60 which is downright sadistic (and not in the ‘consensual kink’ kind of way). How truly deplorable it is that a Proposition that functions under the farce of ‘protecting’ adult performers is paving the way for their identity, career, and overall safety to be cruelly and relentlessly harassed.
Supporters of Proposition 60 may believe that all adult performers are poor, exploited, weak-willed individuals that need the state to rescue them from the tyranny of corrupt producers but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. One need only look at the list of ‘Vote No’ supporters to see that adult performers are strong, vocal individuals who have their own voices and certainly deserve their own rights.
So, what do those that truly matter in this debate—the performers and producers—have to say about Proposition 60? I’ll allow them to speak for themselves:
“California’s General Election is Nov 8th. Prop 60 claims to protect porn performers by mandating the use of condoms, however the fine print creates legislation that limits our safer sex choices, threatens our privacy, and exposes us to anti-LGBTQ harassment. (It’s not really about condoms.) Learn more at StopProp60.com
Adult performers are capable of advocating for our sexual health. Safer sex needs are different for everyone. We exercise our rights through: barriers (condoms as well as gloves and dental dams), STI testing, and choosing sex acts based on risk-assessment. Learn more with our #PornStarsForPublicHealth videos.
There are an estimated 2,000 active porn workers and about 18 million CA voters. We cannot do this alone. We need you to vote NO.” —The CrashPad Series.
“To you: Prop. 60 claims to be about worker safety – but it is really about creating a new private right of action. Under Prop 60, California will become the first state in the nation to allow and incentivize ANY RESIDENT to sue a worker for how they do their job, creating the potential for a lawsuit bonanza that will fill up the courts and sidestep a government agency, costing California millions.
To workers: Prop. 60 will put an already marginalized workforce at greater risk of harassment and violence, allowing any resident to gain access to workers’ legal names and home addresses through uninsurable lawsuits. For a workforce that already faces alarming rates of discrimination, stalkers, violence, and murder, this cannot stand. Adult workers have tirelessly spoken out against Prop 60., as it will compromise their safety and livelihoods. Listen to them.
These are the professionals—the people actually working in the industry. They are the ones directly affected and almost everyone is speaking in unison: Proposition 60 is not about condoms, doesn’t care about performer safety, and endangers everyone involved. Listen to those who know what they’re doing, who do it every day. Trust in their authority and allow them to retain control over their body, their protection methods, and their privacy.
What Can I Do To Help?
If you wish to help there are plenty of ways to do so.
California residents can have a strong impact by voting NO on Prop 60. Make sure you register to vote and save the date.
California residents and those outside California can donate to #NoProp60 campaign so they can keep up the good fight. As it stands there is a huge funding difference between the Yes and No camp. You can change that.
Even if you’re outside the USA you can still join the Free Speech Coalition which is the industry’s trade organization and a huge campaigner for the No camp. Show your support by becoming a member here.
If you can’t vote and you can’t commit to a monetary donation then fear not! We live in an age of amazing digital action which allows everyone to get involved. So if you want to help via this method make sure you:
Share the #NoProp60 campaign on social media
Update your avatar with the #NoProp60 logo
Follow: @VoteNoProp60 @FSCarmy @APACsocial
Share relevant articles.
Tweet at your favourite porn stars, Facebook at them, show them your support, share their posts and get the word out there.
Even if you disagree with the issues being discussed in Proposition 60 I think we can all agree that bodily and personal autonomy matters and is something well worth fighting for.
So if you’re compelled to take action then please do so. If not then I at least hope this article has caused you to reconsider and engage with the adult community.
Until the next review,