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Cleaning up the Industry

Posted by A birch tree on April 12, 2008

So some of you might be asking “Damn, man, what the hell is up with your porn and sex industry fixation?” I know I am, as I look over my notepad of post ideas and realize that three-fifths of the things the chirping finches want me to write about involve some aspect of that brand of fuckery. Well, fear not; I have one last porn-related post to do before I move onto other things. I hope to have at least one environmental post this weekend, two if I’m really motivated and really lucky, and I hope to shift my laser-like focus off of the sex industry and begin to burn away at some other pressing topic of feminism.

So bear with me; I just have to get this last thought out.

As you probably know, I’ve been involved in a bit of a debate recently on-line about legalizing prostitution and the alleged empowering effects of pornography and stripping. I wrote a little bit yesterday afternoon about the idea that legalization promotes safety and good health and generally speaking, happy fluffy bunny feelings for everyone.

It occurred to me, as I talked about it on the phone to my wife, Ari (I’m coming home soon, my love!), that the PPFs are not, in fact, fighting to make the sex industry safer by legalizing it. In order to make it safer and remove the abuses, you can’t just say “Alright, pimps, open season! Have fun!”. You actually have to have, you know, rules and shit. Because porn is as legal as it gets in the USA, and we still have tons of nasty shit going on inside that industry.

Nobody’s made any “clean up the industry” proposals, just “don’t call them whores” proposals. In fact, I suspect that any attempt to write laws or in any way legislate a more woman-friendly sex industry would be met with howls of outrage. In fact, I further suspect that due to the seedy nature of the industry, any actions taken to ensure women are safe would actually destroy the industry, because the industry makes most of its money from putting women into painful and dangerous situations.

Now, of course, certain industry pundits with a conflict of interest assert that such problems are rare, exaggerated, and possibly made up out of whole cloth.

Well that’s great news! If those problems don’t exist, then they should have no qualms whatsoever with actually writing up some legislation to regulate the industry! If there are no problems, we’ll waste some government money for a few years, but we’ll be able to say “Well, shit, guess we were wrong, there really are no widespread abuses here.”

So here are some ideas, in phases, that I think it would be a good idea to pass into law to make the pornography and strip club industries safer. If they work there, we could even apply them to some kind of legalized prostition. Then everyone will be happy.

Right? Somehow, I doubt it. Let’s find out.

Basic Proposals

These are the root of everything; it all starts here. These are the basic, less-radical, mostly administration-related laws. Surely nobody would ever have a problem with these.

  • Define the Sex Industry and Sexually Oriented Businesses as being under federal legislative jurisdiction under the Marshall Doctrine of interstate commerce. States can regulate their own businesses in supplement to the federal government, but cannot pass legislation that conflicts with or diminishes federal sex industry regulations.
  • Create an executive-branch law enforcement agency, the Sex Industry Regulation Enforcement Agency. This agency is given federal jurisdiction over all sexually-oriented businesses, from adult bookstores to strip clubs to porn production studios. Their job is to enforce all of the following regulations and investigate claims of violations. It will be necessary to hire not only experienced investigative and law enforcement personnel, but also counselors and victims’ advocates. The sensitive nature of this government agency will require that all internal departments be staffed with an equal number of qualified men and women.
  • Create a congressional oversite committee. A bipartisan committee comprised of equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans, men, and women will oversee the actions, progress, and efficiency of the SIREA. They’ll control the budget, set internal policies, and make sure all departments are in compliance with both active legislation and said policies.
  • Require all sexually oriented businesses to be properly licensed. A license will be issued to a business only after it can demonstrate compliance will all of the following regulations. No business may operate without said license; penalties for doing so will include prohibition from ever obtaining a license, heavy fines, and jail terms as appropriate, depending on how well the business was established before its discovery. Opertating without a license will be considered prima facie evidence of abuse of performers and other protected employees. A branch of the SIREA will be devoted to tracking down unlicensed businesses and shutting them down, particularly internet-based businesses.
  • Government inspectors from the SIREA will make random, undercover inspections during business hours to ensure all regulations are being followed and that no women are being abused in any way. Any establishment found to be actively abusing, tolerating abuse, or neglecting to address abusive conditions will be put on probationary status, at which point SIREA agents will be on-site at all times. Further violations will result in loss of license, prohibition from applying for a new license for a number of years, and jail terms.
  • Mandatory drug testing for all participants. Random drug testing that hits every employee at least biannually. Actresses, strippers, bouncers, directors, producers, janitors, everyone. There will be no one involved in the sex industry who is under the influence of any mind-altering substance. Alcohol on-set, or being drunk while on-set, will be similarly illegal. Anyone testing positive for a mind-altering substance will be barred from the industry for a period of at least three years, and anyone who hires such a person during the time of their prohibition loses their license.
  • As mentioned above, there will be no alcohol on-set at any time.
  • All relevant laws shall be made applicable to these establishments. For example, assault is a crime. No one can consent to having a crime committed upon them. Therefore, any instance of a person being slapped, punched (including “donkey punched”), pinched, hit, or otherwise assaulted, regardless of whether or not a claim of consent is made, will be treated as assault per local, state, and federal penal codes.
  • Mandatory and thorough background checks. All participants in the industry will be subject to thorough background checks by either the SIREA or an independant third-party contractor. No one with any felony convictions, sex-related convictions, or drug-related offenses will be hired or licensed. Furthermore, any underage people attempting to obtain employment in the sex industry will be barred from doing such for a period of at least three years, and any business or establishment who, in spite of the background check, either through intent to committ fraud or through negligence, hires an underage performer will have their license immediately revoked and responsible parties will be subject to arrest on federal felony charges of attempted or completed sexual abuse of a minor. All participants in the sex industry will be legally consenting adults.
  • All performers will own their performances. All performers in pornography who are in any way recorded or photographed during a strip performance, burlesque performance, or any other performance in a sexually oriented context, including bachelor party performances, will be granted sole and total ownership of all copyrights and other rights to such performances. The master copies will be their sole property, and no reproduction, in whole or in part, will be produced without their express notarized written permission, and such permission can be withdrawn at any time. No contract will ever include the stipulation that a performer give up these rights, nor can such rights be sold to any person until the performer has been out of the industry for a period of at least three years.
  • Out-of-state hiring regulations. If a sexually oriented business hires a performer for a performance to be given out of state, travel arrangements will be made through the SIREA. Any attempt to engage in contract negotiation after the performer has arrived on-site are illegal and will result in immediate license review, and any attempt to withhold return travel accomodations as part of an on-site contract renegotiation, legal or otherwise, in state or out, will be prosecuted under federal kidnapping laws.
  • All sex will be safe sex. Condoms will be clearly and prominantly used in every scene and act of sexual interaction. Furthermore, all unhygenic or dangerous sexual practices (ie: Ass 2 Mouth, in which a performer is penetrated anally and then orally in quick succession by a single penis, or bukkake, in which a large number of men deposit great amounts of ejacuulate onto the face and nearby mucus membranes of another participant) are illegal, and presence of such acts in a performance will be grounds for license review or revokation.

Societal Protections

Numerous studies have linked the sex industry to violence and other antisocial behaviors among its veiwers. So, to try to reduce or eliminate that, here’s a few suggestions:

  • Alcohol consumption cannot be shown as in any way related to the sexual act.
  • Simulated rape scenes are prohibited. Scenes involving unconcious people, or people who say “no” at the beginning of a scene but submit and/or pretend enjoyment at another point in the scene are classified as rape scenes.
  • Infantilizing indicators will be prohibited. This includes all infantilizing behavior or attempting to bestow the markers of immaturity or childishness onto any performer. Primary school uniforms, hairstyles associated with underage persons (pigtails, bowl cuts), lack of pubic hair, spanking themes, school and schoolteacher themes, and other underage themes will be prohibited. Any theme that states or suggests the character, if not the actor or actress, in a scene is underage are also illegal.
  • All actors in pornography will have at least 2/3rds of their body in frame during all sex scenes, unless the face is also visible. This prevents objectification via disassociating body parts from the essential humanity of the performer. All performers will be portrayed as fully human.
  • Removal of Dominance Indicators. As one of the contributing facors in the studies of pornography and violent antisocial behavior is the abundant presence of dominance indicators, in which one party is portrayed as subliminally dominant over the other. As pornography is about sex and sexual pleasure, not reinforcing patriarchal dominant pardigms (at least, in the words of its proponents), these indicators are unecessary and harmful, as well as easily eliminated without destroying the flavor of the performance (if the above claims are true). These indicators are hereby prohibited. They include, but are not limited to:
    • One performer kneeling while the other towers over.
    • Facial cumshots
    • Physical violence, such as hair pulling, scratching, or the use of a penis or penis-like appendage or object as a bludgeouning instrument.
    • Verbal violence, such as name calling, vulgar sexual instructions (ie: “take it all, you cunt”), or quasi-rapist phrases (ie: “You know you want it, bitch” or “I know you like it rough!”)
    • Men of less than average appearance as judged by societal consensus (expressed through media, et al) being paired with women of great culturally-defined beauty, unless the reverse is present in equal quantities.
    • Scenes of racial dominance, especially when coupled with racist language or themes.
    • Clothing dominance, such as scenes in which one party is fully clothed while being serviced by another party, who is completely naked.
    • Performing or simulating unhygenic acts such as urination or defecation onto another party (see also “all sex is safe sex” and the ban on dangerous or unhygenic practices).

There. That should be enough to really get started cleaning things up. Or at the very least, getting a lot of people pissed off over things that, if pornography is really just about sex and not dominance, and/or is not making most of its money through exploitative and unethical business practices, should be pretty much universally agreeable.

Feel free to add your own in the comments section! I’d be really interested to hear them!

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2 Responses to “Cleaning up the Industry”

  1. rychousmama said

    This post is just awesome. Ignore that Red Robin idiot that posted over at Twisty’s. His comments about “ohhh, you’re aligning yourself with right-wing fundies” is a bullshit scare tactic that a lot of pro-pornstitution folks use. If you want some really strong and grounded arguments against pornography as hate speech read Richard Delgado’s and Jean Stefancic’s “Must We Defend Nazis?: Hate Speech, Pornography, and the New First Amendment.” One of my favorite books and it shows how the 14th Amendment (implying the right to be treated with dignity and not discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, etc.) is just as important as the 1st Amendment. Anyway, keep bloggin’ 😉

  2. stormy said

    I am sorry, but I had to chuckle. All of your suggestions for the ‘don’ts’ are the current industry’s ‘dos’.

    Somehow I don’t think the ‘sex industry’ will be trampling over themselves to embrace your sensible suggestions.

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