Sex & Relationships

The Real Reason Porn Stars Are Saying No to a Condom Mandate

Porn performer and sex worker activist Siouxsie Q makes a passionate case against Prop 60.

Photo Credit: Firma V/Shutterstock

Editors Note: Siouxsie Q is an actress in pornographic films and outspoken sex workers’ rights activist. She is opposed to Prop 60, a California ballot initiative that would require the use of condoms on all porn sets. If a condom is not visible, the mandate would allow residents of California to file lawsuits against anyone who makes money off of the film, gaining access to adult performers’ legal names and home addresses in the process. Here she makes her case against it.

It’s getting down to the wire.

With just days before the culmination of the most high stakes election I can recall in my lifetime, I have been in a feverish race to the finish line with the No on Proposition 60 campaign.

As one of the most widely opposed issues on the California ballot this year, the Prop. 60 journey has been nothing short of a David vs. Goliath story. One man with a seemingly bottomless campaign finance war chest and an unyielding desire to control a workforce he refuses to speak with versus a ragtag community of working class artists fighting for their lives.

Wrapped in rescue rhetoric that purports to be about worker safety, Proposition 60 is a classic Trojan horse initiative (pun very much intended). Proposition 60 will mandate the use of condoms in each and every adult film production in California and financially incentivize any resident of the state to enforce that mandate by filing lawsuits against anyone who makes money off of the film, thereby easily gaining access to adult performers’ legal names and home addresses--a terrifying prospect for a community that already faces disproportionate amounts of violence and discrimination.

These days, more than 75% of adult film performers have some kind of financial stake in the content they perform in, be it via webcamming, our personal websites, or affiliate marketing. All the ways in which performers have been able to take back their power as workers by owning the means of production and distribution now make us liable under Proposition 60.

The adult film performer community has historically had few resources and allies in our corner, and yet, Proposition 60 is so poorly drafted and so insidious that we have managed to get all the state’s major parties, as well as more than fifty of the state’s major newspapers on our side. They are joined by civil rights groups such as Equality California and the Transgender Law Center, medical groups including the San Francisco Medical Society, and AIDS Project Los Angeles, and even strange bedfellows like the Quakers and ABC News Anchor Dan Ashley. We even have the blessing of former Star Trek cast members Wil Wheaton and George Takei, who have expressed their support for the No on Prop. 60 campaign, solidifying that we are on the right side of history.

In these final days I have been working no less than 14 hour days coordinating voter outreach efforts at farmers markets and college campuses, as well as on the airwaves and social media.

Adult film performers are working round the clock, speaking out about the dangers of Prop. 60 on podcasts, Periscope, YouTube, and Facebook Live. While the Yes on 60 camp has been able to sink $5 million into their campaign, our side has raised a meager $500k, much of which came in small donations of $100 or less. We have had to use the power of earned media and grassroots organizing to move the dial in our favor. Several months ago, we received the disheartening news that the Yes on 60 camp had released a poll stating that voters were more than 70% likely to vote yes. Now, we are neck and neck, with the most recent LA Times polls projecting just 40% of voters planning to vote yes, 40% planning to vote no, and 20% still undecided. Each Uber driver, barista, and waitress I talk to, every podcast listener, Twitter follower, and fan we educate about Prop 60’s dangers is chipping away at that 20% and though I know the odds are stacked against us, I can’t help but nurture tiny embers of hope burning inside my chest.

Fueled by inspirational movie soundtracks, caffeine, and a very real fear for our livelihoods and physical safety, the adult film community has come together in a way that even long time adult industry veterans such as Nina Hartley (a performer and educator with a background in nursing, who signed the official ballot against Prop. 60) says she’s never seen before.

It’s like living the final scenes of Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Newsies all at once. It’s exhilarating, and it’s exhausting.

But as we get closer to election day, it’s also getting ugly. Kobra Kai never fights fair and neither does the Yes on 60 campaign. As they haven’t been able to garner the support of the workforce they claim to protect, their campaign messaging has shifted towards painting us as pariah’s of disease that pose a risk to the general population, when in fact the opposite would be closer to the truth. Adult film performers test more frequently than almost any other demographic. Sets that use our comprehensive testing protocol haven’t seen a transmission of HIV in over 12 years, meanwhile over 600,000 transmission of HIV have occurred in the general population. Epidemiologists have said that if everyone tested as frequently as we do, our country wouldn’t see the rates of STI’s it is currently seeing.

The Yes on 60 campaign has also launched an insidious attack on San Francisco Supervisor and State Senatorial candidate Scott Wiener, one of our community’s fiercest allies. They’ve recently released homophobic, sex negative, and misleading campaign mailers urging San Francisco residents not to vote for him--perhaps in an attempt to dissuade future politicians from advocating on our behalf. Scott says their bullying tactics won’t work on him, and his support for our community remains steadfast, as does our support for his campaign.

On election night, I will be huddled close with my community, with all my fingers and toes crossed, praying for a miracle as the votes are counted.

No one ever expected us to come as far as we have. No matter what happens on Tuesday, our community has made history this election. We have stood up to those who wish to speak for us and control our lives in a way that would compromise our health and safety. We have come together and forged a united voice that has changed hearts and minds of people who may have never thought twice about our community in the past.  

As Rocky Balboa says, “Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up,” which is why we will be stomping the pavement until the very end.

When the polls close on November 8th, I hope we sweep the leg, use the crane kick, seize the day, and win outright like the champions we have shown that we are.

But in a way, we’ve already won.

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