People's Pornography (Book)

Sex and Surveillance on the Chinese Internet

Since its establishment in 1949, the People's Republic of China has upheld a nationwide ban on pornography, imposing harsh punishments on those caught purchasing, producing, or distributing materials deemed a violation of public morality. A provocative contribution to Chinese media studies by a well-known international media researcher, People’s Pornography offers a wide-ranging overview of the political controversies surrounding the ban, as well as a fascinating glimpse into the many distinct media subcultures that have gained widespread popularity on the Chinese Internet as a result. Rounding out this exploration of the many new tendencies in digital citizenship, pornography, and activist media cultures in the greater China region are thought-provoking interviews with individuals involved.

A timely contribution to the existing literature on sexuality, Chinese media, and Internet culture, People’s Pornography provides a unique angle on the robust voices involved in the debate over about pornography’s globalization.


"People's Pornography" offers an unprecedented investigation of pornography and activist media cultures on the Chinese internet. The book will give a wide-ranging overview of Chinese porn cultures and political controversies, which are gaining popularity amongst Chinese web users yet are different from their Western counterparts. By looking at new tendencies in pornography, erotic subcultures, and digital citizenship, the book will offer a timely contribution to studies of Chinese media, internet culture, sexuality and surveillance society. The book benefits from many black and white images as examples.

Katrien Jacobs is associate professor in cultural studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the author of Netporn: DIY Web Culture and Sexual Politics.

Chapter 1: 
The Cyber Yellow Disaster: From the Everyday Gaze to Nation-State Espionage
Chapter 2: 
The Pride and Pettiness of Sex Bloggers
Chapter 3: 
Gender Variations on the Aching Sex Scene: Young Adult Fe/Male Responses to Explicit Media and Internet Culture
Chapter 4: 
Lizzy Kinsey and the Adult FriendFinders: An Ethnographic Case Study about Internet Sex and Pornographic Self-Display in Hong Kong
Chapter 5:
It Runs in the Rotten Family: Queer Love Amongst Animation Fans and Costume Players

'Jacobs doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of her subjects or her audience, and while her book strikes a positive note both at the beginning and at the end, the numerous examples throughout show us that sexual expression in China is in a constant state of conflict between individual and collective desires and the ever-present and increasingly noisy demands of capital'.

Subashini Navaratnam, Pop Matters

'Jacobs' book has a lot more interesting things to tell though. As she says “It shows that despite the total ban on pornography, Chinese people have developed an impressive porn industry and progressive sex cultures"'. 

Maria Manoli, gb times

'A comprehensive documentation of the various forms of pornography and creative resistance to state censorship and social control in China'.

Lucetta Yip Lo Kam, China Information

'The seriousness and conviction Jacobs demonstrates in this work also deserves not only praise but a willingness to critique it'.

Earl Jackson, The China Review
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