Every now and then, the Chinese government would declare war on the spread of porn on the Internet. They never succeeded, but they fight on nevertheless. Last Sunday, China launched yet another online raid, and this time it has a fancier name “Cleaning the Web 2014.”
The campaign is aimed to “create a healthy cyberspace” by doing “thorough checks on websites, search engines and mobile application stores, Internet TV USB sticks, and set-top boxes” for pornography. But one particular form of sexually explicit content seems to have received special attention from authorities – slash fiction.
Slash fiction is a genre of fan fiction that focuses on the interpersonal attraction and sexual relationships between fictional characters of the same sex. In China, slash, or dan mei (耽美) in Chinese, goes beyond fan fiction, and is used exclusively to refer to male-male slash. Believe it or not, slash is more popular than one would expect in China, and sex scenes are a big part of Chinese slash stories.
In light of the new online porn-cleaning campaign, many Chinese book-sharing or book-hosting websites took off their slash collections, including jjwxc.net, the biggest and most popular self-publishing website in China. Websites dedicated to slash content, such as dmxsw.com, were shut down entirely. Twenty or so writers of slash fictions were reportedly taken away by police, all of whom were female.
Yes, female. The majority of readers, as well as writers, of slash in China are straight young girls who identify themselves as “rotten women (腐女).” A popular saying among netizens goes “The one who can win over rotten women will rule the world of online publishing” – that’s how big and important the group is.
Why young and straight girls in China love erotic stories between men is a question worth its own extensive study, but what we are sure about now is that the latest crackdown on slash has led to an outcry among China’s passionate rotten women. “Why pick at slash while there are far more sexually-explicit romance fictions about heterosexual relationships? Why target at slash while gaming companies are showing semi-porn pop-up ads? Why close slash websites while AV sites are everywhere?” Many of them angrily asked.
In their eyes, slash is but a victim of the country’s system-wise discrimination against homosexuality. As one female netizen 咖啡呆丶LM commented: “This is not cleaning the cyberspace. This is pure discrimination. I may never see a rainbow flag fly above China in my life time.”