Mon
Jan 9 2012 8:22am

The Porn Industry to Get an Order of Protection?

Timothy Olyphant in Justified

If you read any steamy contemporary romance, chances are good that you’ve seen mention of the hero finding and unwrapping a condom while sexing up the heroine. For the author not to mention it, it seems, smacks of unsafe sex, even if it gets to be an eye-rolling amount of mentions if it’s a particularly racy book (for example, Fifty Shades of Grey’s Ana and Christian must go through a gross of condoms a week). Interesting that this detail is obligatory whereas we don’t hear about the characters brushing their teeth, or going for an annual physical or any other health measure.

And the porn industry might soon have to follow in the footsteps (...or other-steps) of contemporary romance and wear condoms during film shoots. The porn industry has rigorous STD testing, but the AIDS Healthcare Foundation says that’s not enough. In response, porn star Ron Jeremy says, "We don’t mind wearing rubbers, but no matter how you slice it, the viewers don’t want to see them.”

So contemporary romance books have to show the details of tearing open the packet and putting it on, or be accused of being unsafe, but in live entertainment it’s not required? Without making judgments one way or the other, doesn’t that just seem—odd? Is that the difference in entertainee expectations? Are porn viewers more into the fantasy and romance fiction readers more embedded in reality? What do you think?

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9 comments
Karen Booth
1. Karen Booth
Great question, Megan. I think the difference is the visual. If you're watching it, there's no escaping the presence of the condom if it's there. When you're reading, you know the condom is there, but you don't think about it beyond that (at least I don't). That's probably testimony to exactly how unsexy we find condoms--it should be there, I want it to be there (as reader and author), but I don't want to picture it. That would take away the best component of mindblowing sex--abandon.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
@Karen, thanks for commenting--for me, I find reading it to be just as unsexy as watching it. I understand I am reading fiction, I don't have to be assured the h/h are safe every single time. I think after awhile it interrupts the story's flow.
I wonder about having to use it in porn, though--think of all the chafing! And they are rigorous about testing, so maybe it's about trying to make condoms cool for viewers? I'm torn (hopefully unlike a condom).
Nicole Leapheart
3. BoxyFrown
Reading about my characters stopping to "sheath themselves" is a little annoying, especially because if the characters are doing the dirty, then they are probably HEAs who won't be screwing around on each other anyway. Sometimes there are these passionate spontaneous scenes in books that are disrupted with condoms. In a porn, I am fine with seeing a condom, or not. Depending on the type of porn, I don't see how they can use condoms...without getting too specific ;)
Lynne Connolly
4. Lynne Connolly
The difference is that we are writing romance. That means there's character development, and the reader wants to care about the hero and heroine.
Donning protection means that both characters, especially at the commencement of a relationship, respect themselves and each other. The hero is "protecting" the heroine, and making her feel safer with him.
In porn, it's all about the sex. The characters don't matter so much.
If I'm reviewing a book and there is no mention of protection, then my liking for both characters tends to go down a notch.
Karen Booth
5. chris booklover
The adult film industry 's main argument - which appears to be fairly well supported by the evidence - is that most viewers do not want to see condoms. If condom usage is mandated by law in Los Angeles, the industry will simply shift its base of operations to Orange County or Santa Barbara or Las Vegas or any of a number of alternative locations. That is why the L.A. City Council opposed the measure, and the City Attorney fought to keep it off the ballot.

It's far from clear that universal condom usage is, in fact, "realistic." While it is true that most people are now aware of the dangers of unprotected sex, there are bound to be times when it is inconvenient to use a condom or one is simply unavailable. And if you look at recent sex scandals involving prominent people who are intelligent and worldly wise, it's obvious that a fair amount of condomless sex is occurring. Many safe sex advocates seem to want the hero and heroine to be role models, which is very different from a demand for realism.

It's hard to read a contemporary novel in which condoms are NEVER mentioned, because it makes the characters seem irresponsible. On the other hand, it can hardly be denied that condoms (a) reduce spontaneity, (b) interrupt a story's flow, and (c) eliminate the fantasy of mind-blowing sex, since very few people include condoms in their idea of the ultimate sexual experience. I'm not sure that there is an easy solution. Some authors have the hero and heroine use condoms initially and abandon them once they are in a committed monogamous relationship. That is probably the best we can expect.
Pamela Mason
6. PamelaMason
What a post to make my inaugural reply to!

One extra factor to take into account is the audience: Visual porn is geared much more to men, while romance books are targeted to the female audience. Following that logic, I can see why the prevailing argument is that the viewer doesn't want to see the condom, since it's distracting to the guys.
Since I'm a woman, I'll say yes, it can be distracting when the condom thing happens like a never ending loop. Once, twice... really, I know by now this will be a committed relationship between hero / heroine, so they'd better be prepared for the consequences.
Sandi Logsted
7. sandlog
Go Pamela! My thoughts exactly. I know the few videos the hub & I have seen with condoms, didn't detract from the action for me all that much. But then again, I'm probably getting an entirely different thing out of it than he is.
But even in my books, sometimes the condom thing becomes ridiculous. There should be one scene at the start, where our couple decides on condoms, and one later on, after they make a committment to each other (or get that clean bill of health) to go bare. Other than that, I'd be very happy if we can just infer that the two intellegent people having that relationship we are reading about have brains enough to use them.
Sandi Logsted
8. sandlog
PS - Thanks for the photo of my favorite US Marshal.
Heather Waters (redline_)
9. redline_
Thanks for weighing in, everyone!

@sandlog -- Anytime! Raylan's our favorite US Marshal too (...or, okay, one of them--I do love In Plain Sight's Mary and Marshall too), so you'll surely see more of him on H&H.
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