A life-size rubber doll named Roxxxy (AP/Paul Sakuma)

Sex doll-sharing service foiled by China's Communist Party

Taqu's whoopie mannequin-rental project suspended operation after just two days, thanks to Chinese authorities


Gabriel Bell
September 20, 2017 5:33PM (UTC)

Chinese company Taqu has announced that, after a mere two days in full service, it has suspended its sex doll-sharing service after authorities determined that elements of the project violated state regulations, according to the BBC. Taqu — which is called Touch in English — offers a wide range of sex-positive products and services to over 500,000 active users in the sometimes conservative Communist nation, though this particular "Girlfriend Sharing" program was perhaps its most . . . interesting (?) effort.

As Gizmodo reports, the company released a statement on the suspension of the service and the removal of its interface on the Touch app, through the Chinese social-media site Weibo. Through Gizmodo's very helpful translation, Touch says, "Because our third-party marketing staff failed to comply with related regulations, certain promotion campaigns were suspended by regulatory agencies, considering the widespread controversy, we decided to stop the project."

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The statement goes on, striking an oddly conciliatory tone: "We sincerely apologize for the negative impact caused by the project, especially its negative impact on online discourse at a time of major meetings . . . In the future, Touch will continue to put corporate social responsibility as a priority while actively exploring healthy and harmonious sexual lifestyle."

Touch added quietly sex-positive messaging about the intentions of the "Girlfriend Sharing" project. "Ever since the project began, we’ve used the slogan 'Shared girlfriend — your heartwarming companionship,'" Gizmodo's translation reads. "We hope to introduce expensive silicon sex dolls to the public, in order to provide love and companionship." The statement concludes, "Sex itself is not vulgar. Making more Chinese people experience the pleasure of sex is still the goal we strive for," which is rather nice.

In a more direct statement to Motherboard, Touch spokesman Zheng Ying said, "Because of the renting dolls, the police call us and said it's vulgar, and give us a punishment." He added, "After careful consideration, we decided to voluntarily shut down the lease of the doll business. Because our company is a listed company, we must be careful." He mentioned that authorities had fined the company 2,000¥ (about $340).

Regardless, the company will continue its work. "But the Taqu app will go on," Zheng told Motherboard, "we will find a new way to popularize the sex interest culture . . . and we think everyone have [the] right to talk about sex."

As one might guess, the "Girlfriend Sharing" program allows users to select five varieties of sex dolls for delivery and keep them at home for a daily fee of $46. According to Motherboard, selections included "Greek bikini model," "US Wonder Woman" (yes, the superhero), "Korean housewife," "Russian teenager" and "Hong Kong car race cheerleader." After use, the dolls are returned to Touch, where the "lower parts" of the silicon-based figures would be removed and cleaned before the "girlfriends" would be returned to service. As well, users can keep the lower half of the dolls and order only a new top half. These ladies are modular!

For all the (somewhat icky) positivity expressed in Touch's statements, Gizmodo notes a somewhat sinister marketing ripple behind the "Girlfriend Sharing" program. A previous statement from the company read that the dolls have "perfect bodies, are totally submissive and can meet the needs of the single home boy." It added, "With one touch of a key, you are no longer single!"

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Male singledom in China is actually a broad cultural concern. Thanks in part to the effect of China's now revised "one-child" policy, death rates and selective abortions, there are 1.18 men to every one woman in the country, according to the nation's most recent official survey. With an estimated population of almost 1.38 billion, the result is millions upon millions of lonely men — just the kind of market where a sex doll-sharing program might not only succeed but eventually find acceptance.

For the moment, however, a generally conservative culture and an actively conservative government have forestalled the dream of timeshared bonkable mannequins.


Gabriel Bell

Gabriel Bell is Salon's Deputy Culture Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @GabrielJBell

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