No Love for Sex Work

By Charlie Vargas

Proposition 60 undermines the civil rights of all amateur and professional sex workers in California.

Under proposition 60, pornography filmed anywhere in California, would require all performers engaging in vaginal or anal sex to wear a condom. Performers already practice an identical law passed in 2012 known as Measure B, which requires condom use during the filming of vaginal or anal intercourse filmed in Los Angeles County. This law is currently regulated by California’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which responds to concerns and complaints about production companies that disregard this law on top of the industry’s biweekly testing of performers for STDs and STIs.

Precautionary measures are necessary but the proposal oversteps its bounds and violates freedom of choice. The law implies that sex workers in the industry may not fully understand the risks of their own job. It demeans performers and portrays them as unclean, unsafe and incompetent all while stripping them of their choice to abstain or use a condom.

Proposition 60 would make it mandatory for producers to enforce condoms with the penalty of a fine if they fail to enforce it, but they are also subject to a lawsuit by the state and by any citizen who has no financial interest in the film. According to section 6720.6 part d) of the proposition, “If judgement is entered against one or more defendants in an action brought under this section, penalties recovered by the plaintiff shall be distributed as follows: 75 percent to the State of California and 25 percent to the plaintiff.”

To make matters worse, this proposed law does not clearly specify who could be sued. Section 6720.8 opens a path to sue any individual whether they’re professional or amateur for filming intercourse without a condom. So, anyone who decides to film their own adult content could face legal repercussions for not wrapping their tool on camera. The law accomplishes legal leeway by using vague definitions such as “adult films” which is defined as, “any recorded, streamed, or real-time broadcast of any film, video, multimedia or other representation of sexual intercourse.” The vagueness of “any” in this definition opens the door for not just producers to be sued but for performers in professional or homemade adult content to be sued individually as well.

The legislation endangers performers financially and also undermines their privacy. As a consequence of a court trial, a performer's personal information would be publicly available. In an interview with abc7 news, Ela Darling, President of the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee commented on the law and its potential privacy and safety dangers for performers.

“I’m terrified of what might happen,” she said. “I have people who threaten to rape me, people who threaten to slit my throat, and people who threaten to kill my dog.”

The law would not reduce STDs or STIs. Instead, the bill demands a forfeiture of rights, endangers performer safety and increases lawsuit susceptibility. Harm not withstanding, choice and privacy should be a natural right for every individual. The industry is responsible for the well being of their performers. There is no need for legislative intervention. Proposition 60 is anti-sex work coercion.