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Readers Respond: Should condom use be a requirement in pornographic films?

Responses: 22


Updated August 19, 2013

Who sets the standards?

Even presupposing there's enough legislative will to address porn directly (as opposed to prosecutorial will, of which there is usually plenty) how will we set the government-approved standard for safer sex? I've seen a fair amount of porn where condoms were used for intercourse, but the oral sex was not only unprotected, but ended with some pretty obvious exchange of fluids. This is obviously not even a particularly coherent safer-sex standard in its own right. But I suspect that backing a particular standard with the force of law is going to create its own problems. And that's all leaving aside the degree to which part of the purpose of porn for many consumers is to portray a fantasy world of sexual excess, where all the women are willing all the time, all the men are hung, and embarrassing and sometimes-difficult safer sex negotiations don't have to be had.
—Guest Architect

persuasion, not legislation.

The inevitable result of legislation or even an industry wide standard would be, you guessed it, underground/illegal fetish bareback porn shoots in which the most disenfranchised people would be coerced into having unsafe sex. persuasion, not legislation.
—Guest wriz

Practice or Portray?

There is a huge difference, to me, between requiring that the porn industry practice safe sex and requiring that they portray the practice of safe sex. I happen to think that the first is an absolutely excellent idea in theory, but a difficult one to execute in practice. The second is huge shades of gray for me... very entwined in the artistic freedom argument not to mention the primary purpose of pornography to begin with, ya know, to get you hot. While the obvious use of condoms doesn't 'de-eroticize' (is that a word?) a huge portion of porn for me - I think it's because a large portion of the porn I'm attracted to to begin with is stuff I can envision myself as really being part of - as in actually participating in. I recognize, however, that for others porn is very much about things that are completely fantasy and never even step near the edges of IRL - and I can understand why the obvious use of condoms would very much 'de-eroticize' that for them.
—Guest ~M


I approve of safer sex in pornography ( and elsewhere.) That said, while I strongly believe that safe health practices should be used in the *actual creation* of smut, just as they should in say the restaurant or hospital industries, I don't believe in thought crime. If the cock is secretly a cunningly wrought piece of silicon, the semen is shaving cream, etc., I have no problems with the *appearance* of unsafe sex. (or of other noxious practices, such as pedophilia or rape. I believe in fiction, and in the power of a consumer to realize that smut is, in fact, more often fictitious than not)
—Guest Lynn Laura

Required, no. Common, yes.

I think barebacking should be treated like a kink: absent from mainstream porn, overtly discussed or focused on as taboo and dangerous in fringe productions.

Volunteerism not Legislation

I think it is praiseworthy if the creators of porn include safe sex practices, for all the reasons you mention. But I'm unclear about how you're proposing to require it. Do you mean like a Hays Code for porn? I'd be surprised if the industry were that unified-- I think the social and economic pressures on the porn industry are quite different from the ones on the major film studios of the past. If you mean by legislation, then I think that would be infringing on artistic freedom. The closest thing I can think of is regulation of tobacco *advertising* for public health reasons. But you're still allowed to show people smoking in movies. And, for that matter, you're allowed to show people lying, cheating, stealing, and killing, even though these are all things that are bad for public health too.
—Guest Jane Smythe


We require driers to wear seat belts, why not porn stars to wear condoms?
—Guest Josh Jasper

What do you think?

Should condom use be a requirement in pornographic films?

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