Gay couple kissing contest on the busiest shopping strip in Chengdu attracted many exciting females. 

Slash fiction falls victim to China’s latest crackdown on online porn

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, the biggest and most popular self-publishing website in China. Websites dedicated to slash content, such as, 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.”

Homophobia among younger generations in China is on the decrease – many post-80s and post-90s generation even think that being gay is cool and a unique way to rebel and to express individuality, but homosexuality is still generally unacceptable among older generations. A lot of the times, to come out means breaking parents’ hearts and bringing shame to the entire family.

For example, a recent China Daily report estimated that there may be as many as 16 million women on the Chinese mainland who are married to homosexual men due to social as well as family pressure on homosexual men.  As one 27-year-old gay man mentioned in the article, he did not want a heterosexual marriage, but may be forced into it one day because he did not want to hurt the feelings of his parents.

Nevertheless, there are always people who are willing to take and stand and make a statement. A few gay couples in Guangzhou recently put on a public kissing show in the hope of calling attention to LGBT rights.