Condoms in Porn Could Convince People to Have Safer Sex IRL

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Condoms may not be the stuff that wild sexual fantasies are made of, but a new study is claiming maybe they should be in your porn anyway — you know, to promote safer sex in the real world.

Researchers at Columbia University recently carried out an experiment in which 265 randomly selected gay men were surveyed about their porn viewing habits over a course of three months. The participants answered questions about "the amount, compulsivity and proportion of condomless anal sex and anal sex with condoms."

The majority of men (92%) reported having watched porn that featured unprotected anal sex — a somewhat surprising number when you consider gay porn is typically more condom-friendly than straight porn. (For the most part, the heterosexual porn industry does not use condoms, instead relying on regular STI testing.)  

Nevertheless, 48% of those men said watching condomless porn had "contributed" to their subsequent decisions to engage in unprotected sex themselves. Meanwhile, 70% of respondents said that "viewing the explicit material led to acting out the things they saw."

In a press release, study authors Eric Scrimshaw and Martin Downing said these results could have broad implications for people's sex lives as well as the standards and practices of the porn industry.

In Scrimshaw's words:

Actually one type of pornography was associated with higher rates of condom use: Men who viewed more pornography containing condom use engaged in fewer condomless anal sex encounters. Even those who took part in compulsive pornography viewing were not more likely to engage in condomless anal sex.

Downing added that "these findings have important policy and HIV prevention implications."

Source: Giphy

This isn't the first time research has suggested there is a correlation between the sex acts portrayed in porn and the sex lives of its viewers. A study published online in the journal Culture, Health and Sexuality in June determined watching condomless pornography was associated with a "higher likelihood of being in the riskiest category of having a penetrative hookup, without a condom, while intoxicated."

While the Columbia study exclusively focused on gay porn, the condom issue is probably the least severe in that segment of the porn industry. Unprotected (aka "bareback") sex is more of a niche genre than it is a mainstream practice, partially because gay porn actors are often just assumed to have HIV.

"Nearly all the top-tier [gay porn] studios maintain a strict condom-use policy," Out magazine reported in 2007.

The straight porn industry, however, has something of a fraught relationship with prophylactics. When a law passed making condom use mandatory for Los Angeles County porn shoots back in 2012, a number of entertainers and studios protested the decision — arguing that as long as the performers are taking care of their own health, nothing else should matter.

"We make sure that we test all of our performers for both HIV and STDs before they engage in any sexual activity in our movies," Vivid Entertainment founder Steve Hirsch argued in a Huffington Post op-ed at the time.

So we arrive at something of a quagmire: Research says the porn industry can use its influence and power to promote safer sex practices. But is it really such a good thing that Americans are getting sex education from porn in the first place? 

Source: Giphy

h/t Daily Beast