Corrupting the Minds of the Youth...

A few years back, when I was young and open minded, I was visiting a female friend in her dorm room at university when we heard some strange sounds coming from next door. I was sort of curious as to what was going on, but she just said it was a group of guys watching a "huang si" movie (ie porn). My young and impressionable mind was confused, I was under the impression that more than anything else, porn was banned from China. I believed those fellow defenders of China that would say that said the great firewall was more likely to block porn sites than it would block CNN, BBC, or other famous news sites. Well, I'm no longer so young and impressionable, so get ready for another rant (quite possibly the most controversial ever on this site)...

I was very surprised to come across the headlines yesterday, China Battles Online Porn. The article starts out:
The Chinese government is launching a new crackdown on online pornography, complaining it has "perverted China's young minds," a state news agency said Friday.
Perverting the minds of China's young? Come on now! On the front page of Sina's sports website there is a section called "Sexy Lace" which includes some very racey images to say the least (curiously, the site is prominently sponsored by Nike). Granted, young kids shouldn't be able to access porn, but much like yesterday's rant, this move is ignoring the main target. Porn is everywhere on the internet and I'm all for preventing young kids from seeing it. At the same time, when a kid goes onto sina to check his favorite NBA or soccer team's score, he's going to come across pictures like this and this. It isn't even like these are hidden at the very bottom, its right in the middle of the page, next to the domestic soccer news (perhaps they put it there for a reason though, who the hell is going to look at the latest CSL news anyways?). There are plenty of similar websites out there, but the example of Sina is interesting because of its popularity, a website that has 38 million subscribers, has reached 300 million unique visitors a day, and is publicly traded in the US.

This campaign bothers me because of the whole idea that people in China are "traditional" and those in the US are "open" (kaifang). Sex is treated as one of the ultimate taboos in China, something that nobody talks openly about and no real education exists. Yet the reality is that the same stuff goes down in the US as in China, its just in the US it is more public and hopefully thus more open to scrutiny, whereas in China it is kept completely hidden. I'm not a fan of stereotypes, but I do believe they often have some degree of truth in them, yet the open vs. conservative stereotype has little, if any, truth to it. In China, you regularly see young couples kissing and holding hands on the street, far more than you do in the US (possibly because in the US young people have more privacy) and in general public displays of affection are far more common in China.

Most of all, underage pregnancies go ignored in China and yet is a common problem. Accompanying a friend to an abortion in China is hard enough as it is, seeing a hallway full of pregnant 12-15 year olds and then also 30 somethings who are getting an abortion because they already have 1 child would make one almost suicidal. It is an utterly depressing scene.

Perhaps if the focus wasn't so much on cutting down on pornography (especially when it ignores so much) but instead on actually opening up and discussing things like sex ed, premarital sex, and abstinence, then some of these problems can be dealt with. The desire to be a "traditional" society and putting blinders on to the fact that you aren't any less "kaifang" than anywhere else will be of huge benefit to society. These campaigns are like putting a band- aid on a broken leg, on the surface it may help a little, but internally the problems abound.

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