Politics, News

California voted “no” on Proposition 60 with huge implications

This year, California voters overwhelmingly voted NOT to require pornography actors to wear condoms. This is important because of one unfortunate reality: many of us learn about sex by watching "flicks".

As a Black Muslim woman, part of me is slightly terrified about what the next four years will bring. Though we can’t stop Trump from being president (we for sure can’t, right?) there are a number of propositions from across the country that also matter a great deal.

Altogether, there were 157 propositions voted on in more than half of the U.S. this year. As a result, Nevada legislature will minimize regulations on the energy market and eliminate legal energy monopolies. DC residents also voted to vie for statehood.

The presidential election is decided by the electoral college, so one could argue that your vote does not matter, but when it comes to state propositions, your vote–and your understanding of local laws–matters.

This year, California voters overwhelmingly voted NOT to require pornography actors to wear condoms. This is important because of one unfortunate reality: many of us learn about sex by watching “flicks”.

Let’s own it: a lot of us in the United States got our misguided sex education from pornography. This is evident in the prevalence of rape culture, the increasing demand for rape porn, and the youth themselves. Pornography has already been proven to negatively impact an adolescent’s mind in some virtually irreversible ways. Thankfully, there are many pornographic films that seamlessly feature actors wearing condoms, but that may be a thing of the past.

Porn featuring unprotected sex is typically supported on free sites.  Since most teens don’t have 1. money 2. a private place to keep anything sexual, free sites like RedTube, PornHub, and others are the natural default. Many of the videos on these sites are uploaded by users who try their hardest to mimic the professionals. This means that more of those participants will likely stop using condoms if they haven’t already.

The implications of rejecting condoms in this way amount to supporting male dominance in the bedroom. Between the obsession with underaged girls, the involuntary bondage, and rape fantasies, porn is already warped. Consensual kinkiness is cool, but the majority of videos of PunishTube and others focus on causing unwanted pain. Similarly, many men pressure women into unprotected sex so they can really feel it, disregarding the woman’s desire to avoid pregnancy or prevent a sexually transmitted disease.

I certainly acknowledge the stance of sex workers on this issue. Like most propositions, this one was funded by special interest groups. A great number of people from oppositional groups were against prop 60. This 13-page document is more complicated than its proponents would have us believe. There is also a law on the books requiring condoms, but the enforcement is loose at best. My concern is that so many voters were uninformed and voted no based on their own desire to maintain a culture of deviance rather than because of the corruption behind the bill’s origins. My comments are not about the sex workers who want to avoid stalkers, nor am I referring to the actors when I say this. I am specifically referring to the industry’s fascination with and proliferation of rape culture.

Some porn enthusiasts vehemently advocated for Prop 60. Others simply support the use of barrier methods more fervently than hetero-dominated sites. This aggressive enthusiasm was widely ignored. Emerging companies like NoFauxxx even advocates in their site that we must involve the purposeful use of condoms to “eroticize and normalise the use of safer sex supplies in our true sex lives.” On that front, queer porn is light years ahead of hetero porn.

Too much of the pornography industry is male-focused. POV porn often attempts to embarrass and dehumanize women. Men congratulate each other for being violent towards their female partners. General devaluation of women is the norm. Rejecting the idea that men should wear condoms in consideration of a woman demonstrates the patriarchy’s persistence in porn. Rape culture won’t necessarily disappear by putting on a condom, but it could be a step in the right direction.

A lot of voters walk into the booth without adequate information about the details of an election cycle. How many of us can cite all the policies proposed by the person we voted for? Sadly, soundbites often outweigh reality. Without knowing the messed up background of the proposed legislation, so many people still voted no.

Is that still a victory?

With all of the U.S. political system madness on the horizon, we have to realize that there are local issues where our action can make a serious impact. Let’s pay much more attention to propositions like this so we are not inadvertently helping our first orange president destroy the world.

Proposition 60 was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. The general sentiment behind its rejection, though, is something we should more openly consider.