The adult industry has never been an easy fit for either the political left or the political right. We were the advance troops of the sexual revolution, and are thus the first to take fire under a backlash — whether it comes from the left or right (and often both). From the early days of the legal industry, we’ve made for strange bedfellows.
Perhaps predictably, those in the industry tend to be as pragmatic as they are political, knowing that our presence in the cultural landscape may be tenuous, and that local district attorneys and regulators can often be as important as POTUS to our survival.
Over the past week, many have asked me what the industry can expect from a Trump presidency. I don’t have that answer, nor do I want to venture into larger discussion of what Trumpism means for the country. But there are reasons for the industry to be concerned … and be vigilant:
In July, the national Republican Party adopted a resolution to its platform calling porn “a public menace” and “a public health crisis … destroying the lives of millions” and linking it to child exploitation and human trafficking. These are not casual phrases, but part of a broader campaign, begun in Utah, marrying religious conservative concerns about sexuality with language put forth by anti-porn feminist Gail Dines.
In August, Trump signed a Presidential Pledge, saying he would make enforcing federal obscenity laws a “top priority” of the administration, and his Attorney General. The pledge states that he does not believe that adult material deserves First Amendment protections.
While many in the industry have argued that Trump — a man whose wife posed for nude photos and who appeared in a softcore film himself — only did it to rally the base during the election, his presidential appointment show otherwise.
- Domestic policy for the Trump transition team is being led by Ken Blackwell, of the Family Research Council (FRC). The FRC believes that pornography is a “major threat to marriage, family, children and individual happiness.” It believes porn is addictive, causes rape and sexual perversion, and has fought for bans on access to pornography, similar to what exists now for child pornography.
- Rudy Giuliani, a vice-chair of the transition team, and a likely figure in the administration led the massive crackdown against adult entertainment in New York’s Times Square, nearly eliminating adult retail outlets, movie theaters, and dance clubs from the city.
- Edwin Meese, the former Attorney General who pushed for an led the Reagan’s crackdown on pornography, is now part of Trump’s transition team.
- Jeff Sessions, the likely Attorney General in the Trump Administration, blamed the military’s sexual assault problem on the availability of pornography on military bases. While on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sessions sponsored a resolution calling for the vigorous enforcement of federal obscenity laws, citing the Meese Commission as its basis. The resolution passed.
While some may hope that Trump is a secret social moderate who will not pursue obscenity, the above actions point in the exact opposite direction.
Beyond Free Speech, we also face challenges to the Affordable Care Act, which have helped many of our performers secure healthcare, funding cuts to HIV/AIDS and STI prevention services, which could raise the cost of testing, and a rollback of rights for the LGBTQ community. Could producers or cam studios be required to determine immigration status? Unfortunately, we don’t yet know.
What we do know, is that we will do what we have always done, which is to fight against intolerance and shame and censorship and bigotry, and for freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of existence.
Eric Paul Leue
Executive Director, Free Speech Coalition