In her latest blogpost, feminist, sociologist and sexologist Li Yinhe drops her usual serious, scholarly tone and describes the frustration that she faces working around the Chinese internet censorship regime’s restrictions. The Net Nanny, she says, is driving her absolutely bonkers:
Yesterday, I found myself suddenly unable to send emails, but had no problem receiving emails. After looking through my email settings multiple times, I could find absolutely nothing wrong and as a last resort, I decided to call up the 263.com customer service. On the other end of the line was a polite male voice, who requested that I give him the error number, which I did. The troubleshooting took no time. He asked, “Can you see if your email has the following three English letters — ‘s’, ‘e’ and ‘x’?” I was flabbergasted beyond words. This was a business email discussing the publishing of the works of renowned German sexologist Erwin J. Haeberle in China — of course there was the word “sex” in it. Be that as it may, we finally spotted the reason, and I was able to send the email as soon as the word “sex” was deleted from the email.
My God. Mamma mia. I really don’t know if I should cry or laugh. Our internet censors have gone crazy, but they really shouldn’t be driving us commonfolk crazy too.
I also heard recently that they’ve started to block the term “brother-sister” (兄妹). Now here’s the riddle. Why are they blocking “brother-sister”? Most people would have no idea, but, haha, let me tell you, they’re afraid people are talking about incest between brothers and sisters. If we were to take their logic further, there’d be way too many terms to ban — “mother-son” (母子), “father-daughter” (父女), “grandparents-grandchildren” (兄弟), “brothers” (兄弟), “sisters” (姐妹) and so on. because any of these terms can be followed by “incest”.
Here’s my proposal. Since we’ve banned the English word “sex”, we should also be banning the Chinese character “性”, and let’s see what the results will be. [Editor’s note: The character “性” means sex and is also a suffix for -ability, eg., “probability” 可能性]. There is a new disease in China today — internet censorship neurosis. China’s internet censorship has now gone full blown neurotic. Save the internet, save the Chinese language. [Translation by Shanghaiist]
Original text in Chinese:
昨天，电邮突然发不出去了，但是能接收，查来查去查不出信箱设置有什么问题，最后只好打电话到263客服，接电话的是一位彬彬有礼的男士，他让我报上了错误号码，然后一针见血地指出：请查看一下，您的邮件里有没有s, e, x三个英文字母，他这么把sex分别按三个字母发音念出来，我还真一下给蒙住了，赶紧去我要发的那封信上找，这是一封商谈出版德国著名性学家黑伯乐的《人类性行为》一书事宜的信，信里当然提到了sex，电邮发不出去的原因找到了，把sex删去，邮件马上发了出去。