Soapbox

Prop. 60 provides stronger enforcement of porn industry condom rule

Derrick Burts
Derrick Burts

In a recent editorial, The Bee sympathized with the plight of adult film workers. That’s nice. But it’ll take more grit than sympathy to reform the rogue porn industry that routinely abuses its performers by exposing them to sexually transmitted diseases, fails to provide them with workers’ compensation when they get sick on the job, and even bullies them into paying for the cost of testing (“How hardcore do we want to be in policing porn?”; Editorials, Sept. 12).

I know because I was a porn performer briefly in 2010. After a short time in the business I got HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Did I get any sympathy or real support from my bosses? Not at all. They kicked me to the curb and moved on to the next young performer. I was just another expendable pretty boy in the industry’s ruthless drive for profits.

Proposition 60 on the Nov. 8 ballot provides a workable road map for protecting adult film performers. It’s a road map to strengthen the ability of Cal-OSHA, the state’s workplace safety agency, to make sure the porn industry’s bosses see to it that their performers wear condoms during sex scenes.

The Bee said – sympathetically – that it should “not be too much to ask” the porn industry to comply with the condom rule that has been on the books since 1992. But asking the industry to be a good boy hasn’t worked. More than 90 percent of porn films don’t use condoms because the bosses bully the performers into not wearing them and use loopholes in the rules to avoid prosecution. That’s where Proposition 60 comes in. It gives Cal-OSHA more teeth to enforce the condom rule.

The Bee claimed that Cal-OSHA is already working with the porn industry to provide workers with “updated safety regulations.” That’s not true. The porn industry’s stated goal is to scrap the condom rule that all major health and physician groups, including Cal-OSHA, insist is critical to protecting workers.

The Bee claimed HIV infections among adult film workers are not so bad. But STDs are rampant in the industry, and experts say condoms protect not just performers but their partners and the wider community.

The porn industry is brutal, almost medieval, in its treatment of its performers. I ask myself: Why are we even arguing about enacting practical rules to protect the health and safety of workers from an industry’s illicit and dangerous business model? It makes no sense.

Derrick Burts is an HIV-positive advocate and former adult film performer. He is married and has a child. Contact him at derrickburts@gmail.com.

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