As international news outlets have been reporting, women in China are no longer allowed to "seductively" eat bananas during live web streams. This comes after Chinese authorities concluded the act was too "erotic" and "inappropriate" for men to witness. Umm, okay?
Clearly this news begs some questions, namely: Why are young women eating bananas live on the internet? And why is it such a problem it warranted a ban?
In case you've been living on a remote island sans wifi for the past several years, live streaming on social media has become kind of a big deal. With more and more streaming services like Facebook Live, Twitch, Azubu, and Periscope popping up, users can film themselves in realtime doing whatever the hell they want—playing video games, drawing cartoons and hanging out (depending on the site)—all while chatting with viewers at the same time.
Oh, and viewers can also give streamers money, like tips. That's key.
Not surprisingly, the combination of live streaming plus money tempts some streamers into borderline porn-y behavior like undressing, dancing, and flashing private parts. In order to prevent stream sites from turning into full on cam-girl-porn-hubs, most sites have rules in place. For example, the gaming platform Twitch's Code of Conduct forbids "pornography and other sexually explicit conduct." It also forbids nudity and "conduct involving overtly sexual behavior and/or attire." If you break the rules you get banned.
Currently, China has roughly 200 million registered users on various live stream sites including Douyu TV, Huya.com and Yy.com—which is a problem for a country that loves internet censorship (see: The Great Firewall). Indeed, back in April, The Ministry of Culture reportedly announced it was investigating some of the sites for hosting pornographic content.
In order to get around these "no porn" rules, many female users have gotten creative in keeping their male viewers entertained—and that's how we ended up with young women seductively eating bananas on live web streams. And by "eating" we mean straight up sucking on a banana in a fully sexual fashion. LOLz.
Apparently the Chinese authorities weren't pleased with these ladies' ingenuity and decided to explicitly ban the eating of bananas on live streams, according to the BBC, which translated a Chinese report from New Express Daily. They also reportedly banned wearing stockings and suspenders, because everyone knows wearing suspenders is too sexy for this world.
Jokes aside, if true, this whole thing is clearly ridiculous. For one, I would imagine that monitoring every live stream for banana eating would be challenging. Not only that, but who gets to decide what's provocative and what's not? What if a girl is hungry while playing video games and just wants to eat a banana and someone deems it sexy? While the ban is reportedly just for seductive banana-eating, it's still humans making judgement calls.
Plus, as users pointed out on Weibo (China's social media network), the ban is only for bananas and yet there are plenty of other foods and objects women can suggestively eat and or suck on: Cucumbers, carrots, cherries, popsicles, candy canes, lollipops and ketchup to name a few. Is China going to ban every single food in the world?
In conclusion, bananas are not the issue. As New Express Daily points out, approximately 75% of the viewers for live streams in China are men and 60% of content creators are under 22 years old. This means you have a lot of Chinese men watching a lot of presumably young women doing stuff. It doesn't matter if they're eating bananas or reading a book, viewers can find a way to sexualize it.
Like the old saying goes, "If it exists, there will be porn of it." There's no stopping it.
Taryn Hillin is Fusion's love and sex writer, with a large focus on the science of relationships. She also loves dogs, Bourbon barrel-aged beers and popcorn — not necessarily in that order.