Research and images compiled by Selene Zhang and Katrien Jacobs
Is There Female Life on Caoliu?
The Caoliu Community (t66y.com) was founded in November 2006 and is one of the biggest community websites in China for amateur pornography. In April 2007, it officially acquired a domain name and address and located its server in the American State of Colorado. Since January 29th, 2007, the regulation of its membership has been through “invited registration”. This means that existing members can invite others by using an invitation code. For the purpose of this research, it was hard to find out exactly what the membership numbers are, but according to the 2014 Wikipedia entry the membership was 200,000. . During that same year, an online research project by lai18.com about the website shows that there are over 30,000,000 viewers per day, 400 films uploaded and 100,000 videos downloaded daily . The author also stated that; “ “Under the PRC’s strict control of pornography and its implementation of a strong moral policy, the rise and flourishing of Caoliu Community, as well as its business operational model, has become a legend.”
Since the reform era in China, sex toys and adult video industries have gradually popped up all over the Internet despite the PRC’s unrelenting anti-pornography policies. (Jacobs, 2012)  The government push towards “eliminating pornography and illegal publications” since 1949, is creating a paradox in Chinese society and the Caoliu website has been continuously attacked and shut down by the government. But somehow the owners have still managed to survive these attacks and have kept the site alive in a transient form. The orderly and ad free Caoliu environment and its rich and free of charge resources have attracted high-quality users who would support and protect the site. Members and users have created a generous, democratic and perhaps even utopian community, especially in the fastly growing "selfie and technology" area, where topics are no longer constrained to porn. People are free to speak their minds about the country and social issues in the wider world like “The more autocratic, the more lonely” ““P2P’s big risk ” There are no inexplicable deletions of posts, no flame wars, no trolls, nor flattering astroturfers of the Chinese government.
One of the Caoliu members, Day vv, said online that “the censorship round from 2nd - 4th November 2015 was one of the most unbearable actions from Chinese government”. Song Rui (宋睿) added: “compared to other ‘fake pornography’ websites that are trying to trick us and grab our money, the Caoliu Community presents a kind of sincerity that is unique.” “It is the best Chinese website ever,” announced by one of the users, “If it was closed, I would die”. In addition to these words of praise from the determined porn users, a few terms like “1024”, “good people, peace life”(好人一生平安) have been invented and are frequently circulated by the male cohorts. Men use these terms proudly in other forums to indicate that they are active user in the Community.
But Is there Female Life on the Website?
We can find two main sessions on the Website: Movies and Leisure. The Movie session mainly is occupied by male users who exchange commercial porn movies from Japan, China, Europe and the USA. Additionally there is a session of amateur or DIY porn uploaded by members.
When looking into the gender ratio of people posting amateur porn, these activities are still dominated by males and one can hardly find a video made by women. According to a data search in 2015, the top 6 topics keywords in the Sexual Explicit Photo Session are “Girlfriend, Selfie, Young Lady, Body Shape, Lover, Wife.” We can see that the male members are possessive, macho and “cocksure” in how they describe their female partners, using terms such as “nice fruity pussy”, “she admits mine is bigger than her husband”, “small nurse wants me”, “with beauty in hotel”, etc. Men frequently gesture the number “91” during the sex act, to refer to the website’s name, and in order to indicate that they belong to the community and also control the resources.
Moreover, the film style of these amateur movies does not diverge from “male-stream” porn in that the female is cast as a willing and silent model, which the male has agency. The camera is mainly turned on and held by the male; frequently the female is asked to move or pose, or to praise her partner. Commentary on the videos refers to the female in the third person pronoun, for instance debating whether “she” is pretty, wet or desirable. Because it is a male-dominated environment, there are few women shooting and sharing their private sex lives online. Finally, in terms of ethnic diversity or interracial love, we can find sex videos but they are mostly posted by Chinese males who brag about their sexual lives with girls from South East Asian countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, etc .
Traces of female agency in the Community
There are indeed also traces of female involvement or agency in the community, in spite of the dominance of males and the rather subdued identity of females in the videos. Some women tend to act and perform confidently and with pride, sometimes even aggressively taking over control, getting totally immersed in the sex act and expressing their happiness. As shown in one of the videos the girl was asking the viewers “whether they really enjoyed this” and “what about the positions” several times. The young man in the video was a freshman doing his bachelor degree, according to the title, and was happily being controlled during the whole sex process.
Moreover, in other areas besides the Movie area, a lot of female users are getting popular by actively posting their sexual explicit photos in the Leisure area, entitled, "Holding the Flag of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre."
Here we can find two different perspectives and attempts of Chinese women to belong to this community.  Firstly, there are women uploading selfies and showing off their nudity confidently. They get popular because of their open and outgoing personalities. In the post named “Wild selfie, heavy taste, be careful to get in” we find 17 photos of a fat naked woman, around 35 years old, proudly showing off her body in a pavilion in the outdoors. ,The responses are very positive, “so fat so beautiful”, “I love to grab this kind of fat body”, “fucking you would be very a unique experience for me” and “thanks for sharing”. Other fat women are getting a positive and warm welcome in Caoliu Communit. This reveals an inclusive and somewhat female-friendly atmosphere in the Community as mentioned before, where people tend to be kind, generous and positive towards different ages or body types of women.
Another famous woman posts a series of nude photos for her own artistic purposes: “My work is just going to be better and more stimulating” announced a female user named 荒野小蛮腰of. In 2013, her nude photos in Hengshan street in Shanghai were wildly circulated online. In the set of photos, she gradually undressed from the daytime to the evening. Later on in the "Holding the Flag of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre area" she posted another two series of nudes posing in different streets of Shanghai without being bothered by the passers-by. Therefore she attracted even more eyeballs and controversies about her work. Later the police found her and she explained to the public: “The reason for making these nude photos of myself is because I’m having a grudge against the society. It is my challenge to traditional concepts and morality.”
And finally, it is also the case that there are female sex workers who want to attract clients. We can find many sexual explicit photos with words of temptation such as “I dare to play”, or “I finished my shower and took these photos. I’m ready to go out now. It’s not convenient to be at home.” Responses to these kinds of posts are like “I want this woman!” “You’re so delicate!” “Beautiful and fruity!” “I want to fuck this delicate small pussy!” The wording of the women’s posts selling themselves is more subtle and milder than in other online websites, but they have the function of prostitution. Male users can send a message to get in touch with the women posting in these Caoliu forums.
A new forum for wider female audiences
The frequency of women visiting the Caoliu Community varies from one time in her life to daily, but the daily members are very restricted Since the membership is restricted and hard to get, female users tend to find other online platforms such as Zhihu.com to comment on the Caoliu Community. Zhihu (zhihu.com) is a Chinese ask-and-answer website established in 2011. It is a newly emerging interactive community which features Chinese entrepreneurs and public intellectuals among its users, increasingly providing Chinese netizens with space for rich discussions. Since the site is not yet heavily surveilled by the government, many people admit that Zhihu is a new version of Caoliu Community.
Women can discuss topics such as “18+”, “AV”, “Caoliu” and the environment of the website is generous and open just like the Caoliu Community. When talking about their porn tastes, Chinese women place their preference more on European and American movies. “I probably watched more than 2,300 porns! My taste varies all the time but I don’t like ugly Japanese men. Mainly I surf European products.”(Wang Xiao Hang, 2016-02-12). At the same time, Chinese women show their aesthetic appreciation of other women: “Woman’s body is beautiful, with big breasts, narrow waist, prominent hip, round legs”, “I enjoy looking at the meeting and lingering of two wonderful bodies, and being aroused is my expression of an appreciation for the girls.” “It is not my sexual orientation, but come on, the vagina and breasts are really beautiful.”
To finish, we can take a look the intense dialogues about women’s presence on the Caoliu Community. Some are very much in favor of a higher female involvement, will others "would want to throw a dead pig into their bedrooms. Please feel free to check out some of the comments below.
Question: What is the feeling of women visiting the Caoliu Community or other adult websites? I don't quite understand. Maybe those who like to watch it are lesbians?
Wu Xiao Dong(169 agree):I think it’s just because your kind of person exists, we women are repressed under various “moral codes” instead of enjoying our desires.Women are also human, have desires. Men can watch then why do you dare to despise women? Whatever other people want to watch, or have watched, you have no right to interfere!By the way, why can’t women appreciate each other? You think you can discriminate against them if they are lesbian?I want to say “hehe”(contemptuous smile) to those who says bad words about women.Hope one day I don't need to answer these kind of questions.
Anonymous (13 agree):Woman’s body is beautiful. Big breasts, narrow waist, prominent hip, round legs.I enjoy looking at the meeting and lingering of two wonderful bodies, and being aroused is my expression of the appreciation for the girls. (please see Xart)There’s no relationship to my sexual orientation. I believe that the vagina and breasts are really beautiful. I alo still like dicks when in practice.I like to surf on the Caoliu Community. It broadens my horizons.
Qilin (34 agree):I don’t know whether you are satisfied with all the curses you have received so far.I’ll add one more.Why can man watch AV but not woman?Why are women so low and coquettish?Hope you have a dead pig on your bed.
Feitu:I’m bisexual. I enjoy to watch gay porn.Answer by Chen Shuo:Maybe you didn’t go on Chinese Adult websites very much. You don’t know that there are female sections, including lesbians and Boy’s Love, etc.Answer by AiWen:Of course I watch it to masturbate!Answer by Annymous:If I don’t go to Caoliu for a long time, I feel something is lacking in my life.
Miao Xiao Jiu:I love to watch European and American ones. I don’t like Japanese AV.
Anonymous:I have the feeling of being in my senses. I feel like I’m being touched.
Anonymous:I can’t masturbate when looking at naked men but I can when there’s a bound or horny naked woman.Answer by Lan Yangyang:To be frank, it’s really regrettable that I didn't find Caoliu earlier. I first got its information from a gay online QQ group. I was curious. Later I started to watch GV, AV, SM, masturbation, etc. I feel that the best porn is comics. I love to watch men moaning there.
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Research and images compiled by Selene zhang