The Dreaded Beast Known as Prop 60

I thought it would be appropriate to kick off this site talking about that dreaded beast known as Prop 60 here in California. For those who are unfamiliar, let me give you a brief rundown.

  • Prop 60 is funded by one special interest group known as the AIDS Health Foundation (run by Michael Weinstein).
  • Prop 60, as also pointed out on the CA vote-by-mail ballot, will cost taxpayers millions of dollars to fund.
  • Prop 60 is opposed by dozens of local Democratic and Republican organizations throughout California, in addition to workers, doctors, public health experts, civil rights organizations, and the adult industry and its performers (the very industry that this measure is meant to “protect”).
  • Prop 60 would allow anyone in California to sue performers, workers, distributors, etc. if a condom is not visible in the scene. If sued, performers and other industry members could have their legal names and addresses posted publicly during the legal process. In addition, the proposition gives out a 25% reward to those filing the lawsuit, regardless if there any viable evidence that any laws were broken.

There’s more I could list here, but I think DontHarassCA.com has done a great job at outlining the important issues (by the way, I highly recommend you give it a read to educate yourselves on exactly why Prop 60 is so problematic). Instead, I want to focus on the type of rhetoric used to trick people that Prop 60 is about safety (when in actuality, it is not).

Is Prop 60 about protecting the adult industry? No. And, in fact, it puts the very people it’s meant to protect in danger.

Is Prop 60 about the greed of AHF’s Michael Weinstein and stigmatizing the adult industry? Yes, and moreover, it’s about shame.

When we look at the campaigning that AHF is doing for Prop60, the tone used is one of moral and ethical superiority. AHF encourages people to vote “yes” to protect adult performers from disease. They claim producers refuse to provide a safe workplace for their performers and that as a result of this, thousands of workers have been exposed to disease.

This is problematic for a variety of reasons (separate from the fact that it’s not true – performers have to get tested for HIV/STIs every 14 days and use other preventative options as well), but my biggest gripe is that this proposition is masked as a way to “protect the safety of performers.” Performers in the industry have stated that the proposition does the exact opposite of its intention and Weinstein chooses to ignore them. He assumes that the people in the industry need to be “saved” and passes on that mentality on voters, which further perpetuates the idea that people in sex work have less value than those who are not.

To those who are on the fence about Prop 60, I encourage you to do your due diligence and research the topic. Read the actual language used for the proposition. Visit the DontHarassCA.com website to get the facts. Google ‘Prop 60’ to see what non-industry news publications and advocacy groups are saying about the proposition and then compare it against the AHF’s stance on the topic. Pay attention to the language used in their campaigning and think about what emotions they’re trying to appeal to.

Traci and I have been doing incarnations of our workshop, Cache Confidence, for the last six months where we’ve been discussing demystifying and destigmatizing the adult industry. In our discussions on the topic, we noticed a common thread throughout our conversations: shame.

Whether it’s sex, body, or even sexuality, we know shame is something that affects our self-worth, our relationships, and how we view the world. Whether it causes a person to be self-loathing or to believe they are morally superior to others, it’s an emotion that can cause a lot of real world damage.

Prop 60 is not about protecting the adult industry or about accountability to protect adult performers. The language is framed that way to make the industry seem like a landscape of sexual and ethical deviance, and thus, trying to appeal to a voter’s sense of “moral duty.” It is this type of veiled perceived moral superiority from Weinstein that is the most infuriating. More frightening than his greed to capitalize on being the “condom police” is his intention to further ostracize the adult industry from society. Prop 60 helps no one – except himself.   

The adult industry is filled with passionate, intelligent, and creative people who are speaking up about the dangers of Prop 60. We are often marginalized in the real world because of our profession, but the kicker is this: the adult industry exists because there is demand for it. Consumers (i.e. voters) support the industry with their wallets and yet vilify us in the public eye, but we all have the power to stop the shame cycle.

So let it start with this – vote “no” on Prop60. Why? Because it hurts adult performers and you believe our opinions carry weight and value. You view us as equals and believe we have the intelligence and aptitude to make decisions about our safety and well being.