Reading Reflection on Chinese boys’ love fans: An insider’s view by Erika Junhui Yi in the latest issue of TWC, I was struck not just by how extreme reactions to BL can get, but also how little info sometimes gets through to English-speaking media fandom about fandoms in different places that use different languages.
Yi describes how BL fans are sometimes stigmatized in China because BL often involves explicit sexual content, and homosexual content at that. For instance, she says that “in the massive censorship crackdown launched in 2010, thousands of BL fan forums, Web sites, and personal blogs were censored, along with pornography”.
Censorship is bad enough. But then there’s this:
These media reports, along with the Internet censorship, made BL fandom a target of attack. Perhaps the most outrageous action taken against BL fan girls happened in 2011. The police in Zhengzhou Province arrested 32 slash fiction writers whose work had appeared on a Web site specializing in homoerotic content. The arrested writers were all women, and most were in their 20s (Xin Kuai Bao, March 22, 2011, http://www.ycwb.com/epaper/xkb/html/2011-03/22/content_1068001.htm). This news caught the attention of other BL fan girls, most of whom had also created some kind of fan work, making them vulnerable to legal action.
If this was talked about in English fannish circles, I completely missed it. Was it discussed? Google is being no help at all. The only thing in English I found that mentions this episode is an academic article on BL in China, Forbidden love: incest, generational conflict, and the erotics of power in Chinese BL fiction (paywalled, alas. Comment if you’re looking for access, someone may be able to help). A bunch of Japanese friends I mentioned it to did know about the incident, though. Turns out it was even slashdotted in Japan.
It’s things like this that make me think we need better ways to make sure that at least the very important info about troubles and incidents in non-English-speaking fan communities gets over the language barriers. I’m not sure if English-speaking fans could have been of any help in this particular incident, but 32 fic writers getting arrested seems like something that should have made more waves than it did.