Chinese Same-Sex Slash Fic Targeted in Porn Crackdown

April 24, 2014
By

12China’s cyberpolice do not only target political dissidents; they also have the Sisyphean task of scrubbing the Internet of pornography. In the latest crackdown on “all online texts, pictures, videos and advertisements with pornographic content,” however, the government has ensnared some rather unlikely pornographers: creators of slash fanfiction and comics, mostly young women.

Much like yaoi manga in Japan, same-sex slash fanfic (dan mei) is largely created and consumed by young women in China. But while slash fans elsewhere are free to indulge their obsession, in China they’re labeled deviants and the creators are accused by police of “advocating homosexuality, violence, and gore.” In 2011 authorities tracked down and arrested 20 women and teenaged girls who had posted stories on slash clearinghouse danmei.org. Fans fear that history is repeating itself with the latest “Internet cleanup,” as eight fiction websites have been shut down and their staffs arrested.

Other sites have preemptively removed their slash categories so as not to catch the eyes of the government’s Chief Pornography Identification Officers or their fellow citizens, who are encouraged to report online porn to authorities. But despite the danger of government surveillance and retaliation, some slash fans — who embrace the title “rotten women” — are speaking out and alleging discrimination, particularly on microblogging site Weibo. Some large porn sites have been left untouched, they say, while fan-generated dan mei continues to be targeted. One Weibo user asked: “Why the special legal treatment of homosexuality? Straightness is love and same-sex is smut? The majority shouldn’t have the power to call the minority ‘abnormal.’ It’s all romance.” She may have answered her own question — with fans espousing such “dangerous” ideas about minority rights, it’s easy to see why the authoritarian government might view them as a threat.

We need your help to keep fighting for the right to read! Help support CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by visiting the Rewards Zonemaking a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!

Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.