Last week, the indefatigable AIDS Healthcare Foundation launched the latest salvo in its long running battle to pressure California's occupational health and safety agency to enforce the bloodborne pathogens standard on porn sets: Lodging a complaint against porn magnate Larry Flynt with Cal-OSHA and supporting the charge with a five-foot stack of Flynt-produced DVDs.
California is one of only two states where it is unequivocally legal to make hardcore porn. The state also has some of the toughest occupational health and safety laws in the country. The bloodborne pathogens standard stipulates that workers are entitled to condoms or equivalent protection on the job. Condoms are the norm in gay porn, and in the straight porn industry in Brazil, but straight porn producers in California routinely ignore the law.
The porn industry is always trying to tell us how mainstream it has become over the years, and indeed, the industry is very mainstream when it comes to signing multi-million dollar distribution deals with major satellite TV companies and hotel chains. But when it comes to protecting the health of workers, the industry wants to cling to its outlaw status instead of taking on the responsibilities that other employers shoulder as a matter of course. If you're a regular movie producer and you want to depict an actor running through a burning building, it's up to you to figure out how to do it safely. My story on condoms, OSHA, and porn appears on Slate's Double X.
[Photo credit: ClixYou, Creative Commons. Slogan reads: For love, wear a condom.]