There are also the logistics of it. Condoms aren't made for the long days of shooting. Picture: AFP

Washington - It's not news that porn influences sexual behavior.

But evidence shows that, in some cases, porn is stepping in where sex education is failing. Specifically, when it comes to condom use. A study published in 2016 suggests that, among a small sample group, viewing sexually explicit material in which participants wore condoms led to an increase in condom use.

There seems to be a logical question that follows: Should porn adapt to be more educational? Should there be a push to show safer sex in porn? And can porn actually work as positive sex education?

It might seem like an obvious "yes." But dig a little deeper, and there are issues when you try to conflate porn with sex education.

"Since porn is entertainment, it only has responsibility to entertain consenting, educated adults who are interested in that kind of entertainment," says Liara Roux, a sex worker, indie porn director and producer, and online organiser.

There's also the fact that, even though plenty of young kids are watching porn, the industry isn't necessarily set up for them.

"The porn industry is made for adults. It's not made for kids," says Laurie Betito, a sex therapist who has partnered with Pornhub to create the site's Sexual Wellness Center. The initiative, which is in its second year, was created as a place for people who view videos on Pornhub to receive sexual education in the context of the porn they were viewing. Sex workers and performers write the posts, detailing everything from BDSM to anatomy.

"It's amazing how little education there is out there, and how often people turn to pornography to get any kind of education," Betito says.

But she and advocates of sex workers such as Roux are quick to remind folks that the porn industry isn't about education. It's about fantasy - and anyone watching should be able to put what they're seeing in context.

Roux says that movements such as this are set up only to derail the porn industry. "There is fair criticism to be made of any media, but any cultural criticism of porn is filtered through a vast, extremely well-funded, faith-based, nonprofit complex that calls all pornography 'sexual exploitation,'" she says.

And while the porn industry already has regulations in place for regular STI testing, Roux and other outspoken opponents of ballot initiatives such as Proposition 60 argue that government involvement in the industry will only lead to lawsuits and harassment, which aim to restrict porn overall. Because most porn performers are also producers, they have financial stake in the content they create. If they're more susceptible to lawsuits, their capital is at risk, which means it could be harder to produce porn.

There are also the logistics of it. Condoms aren't made for the long days of shooting. "Condoms don't work for porn sets because porn sets aren't sex between couples," she says. "They are sets with equipment, hot lights, and intensive time and energy demands."

In fact, a 15-minute scene can take an entire eight-hour day to film. "Skin to skin contact is more easily lubricated and maintained," Roux says. "Pain from the friction and additional stop-and-start time to continuously check, re-lube and replace condoms make already-exhausting work even harder."

Folks should be learning safe sex in schools or from their parents - not from porn performers.

Betito puts it best: "You don't look to the 'Fast and Furious' movies to teach proper driving techniques," she says. "So it's a little strange to ask the porn industry, which promotes fantasy, to be responsible for teaching healthy sex practices."

The Washington Post