This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.
Filming May Shut Down Yet Again for Porn Stars
As the year draws to a close, lights may once again go dark on adult film sets across the country. For the third time this year, producers are considering a voluntary pause in filming after a performer tested positive for HIV. The name and gender of the film star was not released, but this story is becoming all-too familiar.
In August, actress Cameron Bay triggered the first shutdown when she announced she had contracted HIV. Weeks later, her off-screen partner, Rod Daily, who is also an adult film star, said that he had also contracted the virus that causes AIDS. Daily’s positive test result did not affect the industry, however, as he was not on or scheduled to be on a shoot at the time. The second shutdown came in September, when an industry-affiliated doctor released positive HIV results from a performer who wished to remain anonymous. This most recent case was revealed at the beginning of December.
All of this happened as advocates in the industry’s home city, Los Angeles, have been arguing for the mandatory use of condoms in adult films. As RH Reality Check has reported, a county-wide rule has been passed and upheld in court, but it is unclear how and if it will be enforced. Efforts to pass a state law requiring condoms in adult films have failed. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been pushing for condoms in films for many years, told the LA Times that this just proves how much we need such a rule: “Are we still going to be having this argument when there’s the 10th shutdown or 20th? Or the 50th infection?”
Campaign Reminds UK Residents That They Don’t Want Chlamydia for Christmas
Sexual health advocates in the United Kingdom have launched a new campaign this week, cleverly named “Nobody Wants Chlamydia for Christmas.” The local campaign in the Blackpool area is aimed at those under the age of 25 and suggests testing for everyone, noting that chlamydia often has no symptoms and that when left untreated it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and, ultimately, infertility. Anji Stokes, the project lead, told the local press, “Christmas is a time for giving but we want to make sure this year that young people are not giving the unwanted gift of [c]hlamydia to their partners. Testing is so simple, you can visit your local sexual health clinic, GP or order the test kits online.” She added, “There are no downsides to testing as [c]hlamydia is treatable and if caught soon enough should not have any lasting impact on your health.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chlamydia is more commonly reported than other sexually transmitted diseases in the United States, where an estimated 2.86 million cases of chlamydia occur each year. Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics.
Women Underrepresented in Kids Movies
‘Tis the season for G-rated family movies, but whether you take your kids to see Frozen in theaters or catch Planes on cable, actress Geena Davis asks that you take note of the alarming lack of female characters onscreen. The Oscar-winner and star of Thelma and Louise, who portrayed a female president of the United States in the television series Commander in Chief, started the Institute on Gender in Media almost a decade ago after noticing how few female characters there were in the movies she watched with her daughter. The institute’s most recent research, conducted by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, found that for every female character with a speaking part in a family film (defined as those rated G, PG, or PG-13) there are three male characters. It also found that whether these movies are animated or feature live actors, in crowd scenes females only represent 17 percent of the characters on screen and this ratio has not changed since 1946.
Davis used this data as the basis for an op-ed in the Hollywood Reporter, in which she writes:
We are in effect enculturating kids from the very beginning to see women and girls as not taking up half of the space. Couldn’t it be that the percentage of women in leadership positions in many areas of society — Congress, law partners, Fortune 500 board members, military officers, tenured professors and many more — stall out at around 17 percent because that’s the ratio we’ve come to see as the norm?
The actress has some ideas that writers and producers could use to quickly fix this issue. First, she suggests that they simply go through their current scripts and change a bunch of minor characters—whether it’s a plumber, a pilot, or a taxi driver—to women. The second step is to specify in all scripts that half of any crowd be made up of women. As Davis points out, fixing gender disparities in the real world is a long and arduous process, but in the fantasy world of film it’s quite easy. “You can’t snap your fingers and suddenly half of Congress is women,” she said. “But there’s one category where the underrepresentation of women can be fixed tomorrow: onscreen. In the time it takes to make a movie or create a television show, we can change what the future looks like.”
Lastly, to leave us all in the holiday spirit, the nice people of CondomCarols, which describes itself as a creative action project to promote sex-positive health and wellness, are tweeting songs about sex. There’s this one song that has a recognizable tune:
Stock up now on condoms and lu-ube, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
‘Tis the season to have safe sex, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Give your partners lots of pleasure, fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la
And a dildo, for good measure, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!
The group also has an epic rendition of the 12 days of Christmas, which is too long to reprint here. But to give you an idea, it includes the line: On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me “four Plan Bs, three dildos, two packs of lube, and the gift of being STI free.”
For anyone who has a good singing voice and a matching sense of humor, the group is looking for people to join them caroling in New York and Boston.