The porn industry, using its sophisticated, well-resourced public relations machine, sells itself as an avant garde, progressive, counter-cultural force out to empower us all with exciting images of an edgy, fun, creative sexuality. In reality, it is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business that functions like all global industries, especially when it feels under siege. The recent HIV outbreak among porn actors and the subsequent negative publicity about how the business treats its performers has revealed how this industry goes into attack-dog mode by discrediting, defaming, and slandering those who blow the whistle on what goes on behind the scenes.
For years, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been fighting for mandatory condom use on porn sets. The porn industry has mounted a wholesale attack on the foundation, accusing it of fear-mongering, exaggeration, and stigmatizing porn performers. Ironically, one of the AHF’s main critics, porn producer Tristan Taormino—who accused the organization of propagating “negative stereotypes about sex workers” and using “inaccurate information to scare the public” —is now herself a target of a porn industry smear campaign for announcing on CNN that she will no longer shoot condom-free scenes.
What a difference a year makes! In a Huffington Post article in October 2013, Tristan Taormino urged people to vote against Measure B, which made condoms mandatory, because it “will not make workers safer nor will it help stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).”
Accusing the AHF of trying to destroy the porn industry, Taormino argued that she was against Measure B because she wanted to “empower performers to make decisions about how they will protect themselves.” On September 20, 2013, just 11 months later, Taormino stated on her blog that she still wants to “empower performers to make decisions about all aspects of the work they do.” This time, though, empowering them means refusing to work with those who won’t...