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Viewers pour into sexy streams

FOR an increasing number of people, the cyber world is a place to unwind from life’s daily stresses. This can take the form of playing games, chatting with friends, shopping or planning a holiday.

Many others though are going online for stimulation of an entirely different sort.

An individual who goes by the name of Fries and Ketchup on the social media site claimed in a recent post that her husband spends hours watching livestream broadcasts featuring buxom women. “Sometimes I get up early in the morning, and I find him still looking at boobs,” this user wrote. “We have had a lot of fights about this. Sometimes I find comfort by telling myself that my husband is just a loser who has no class. But mostly, it makes me feel inadequate about my flat chest and about myself.”

Indeed, livestream broadcasts featuring young women with pretty faces, busty figures and sexy outfits are captivating the attention of countless viewers.

Ray Pei, a 26-year-old airline ticket agent, said he’s addicted to online broadcasts. Although Pei says his favorite online streaming channel is devoted primarily to video games, he also admits to being drawn in by broadcasts featuring attractive females.

“Who doesn’t like ogling pretty girls?” asks Pei. “Sometimes they don’t actually play the games well, but people don’t really care about the games when they can watch pretty faces and beautiful figures.”

Some viewers send gifts and money to women they like. Boris Ni, a friend of Pei’s, says he’s spent hundreds of yuan  on his favorite female broadcast stars. Many websites offer a range of virtual “gifts” — such as digital roses or perfumes — which viewers can buy to support their favorite personalities.

“I know that most of them practically live off our contributions,” said Ni. “So when I see a broadcaster I particularly like, I send her a gift.”

It’s not unlike spending real money for online games such as “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” or “Clash of Clans,” he contends.

“If no one is willing to spend the money, how can developers continue making good games?” he asks. “It’s the same with livestream broadcasters.”

In Ni’s assessment, viewers can be divided into two camps, the “losers” and the “rich.”

“The ‘rich’ are the main income source of the broadcasters,” explained Ni. “Many of them are born with a silver spoon in the mouths. They spend vast sums to promote the broadcasters they like.”

By contrast, “losers” don’t spend any money, he said.

“As far as I know, most of them are students or migrant workers,” he says. “They don’t have money. They don’t have girlfriends, so they spend their time watching girls online.”

Pei concedes that he is in the latter camp. Since graduating five years ago, he has changed jobs three times and hasn’t decided what he wants to do with his life.

“I’m now working in a low-paid office job with very long hours,” he said. “I don’t have many choices. It’s a difficult time for people like me who don’t have special talents.”

His girlfriend of two years also recently dumped him because her parents didn’t think he had good prospects.

“I think watching girls online is just like fans chasing idols,” he says. “But fans need money to buy albums, collect disks, go to concerts or buy photos at conventions; whereas watching girls online is free.”

But some claim the relationship between online fantasy and real life may not be as innocent as Pei suggests. Pornography is outlawed in China, but that hasn’t stopped livestream broadcasters from cashing in on sexual innuendo. In certain cases, the bolder the broadcaster, the more money they can earn.

To get started with livestreaming, one needs little more than a webcam, an Internet connection and a little bit of imagination. Many film themselves narrating sports games, singing, playing a musical instrument or dancing. Viewers can message broadcasters with comments or requests.

“Some people ask for particular songs or dances,” said Ni. “Some make rather vulgar suggestions about showing more skin. The women may feign disgust, but they usually do what’s asked.”

It’s easy to see how all this can overstep the boundaries of public probity.

Earlier this year, a livestream broadcast on entitled “Making Babies” attracted thousands of viewers. It showed a man and woman engaging in sexual activity. The police were notified and the stream was shut down. The two participants in the broadcast were subsequently arrested on obscenity charges.

After this incident, the Jiangsu Province Public Security Bureau warned Nanjing-based that its servers might be shut down permanently if more such incidents occurred.

The website quickly rolled out new, stricter content rules. But barely a week later, a woman livestreamed a broadcast of herself changing clothes. The woman claimed she thought she had turned off her camera, but this didn’t stop tens of thousands of viewers from seeing her nude.

Feng Qiang, a mental health counselor, said that many people turn to such broadcasts to escape real-life pressures. The anonymity of livestreaming allows people to view, or engage in, activities they wouldn’t dare do in real life.

“It’s a way of relieving stress,” said Feng. “These people may be experiencing difficulties in their daily lives or be frustrated by personal relationships. Spending time online, especially for those who are mentally weak, is the easy option.”

Feng said the basic standard of judging whether an “obsession” is healthy or not is to gauge its impact on normal daily functioning.

“If a person can no longer manage their life, then he may have a developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder,” he said. “That would require therapy or medication.”


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