Meet 'Abstinence Bar,' the Homegrown Chinese Version of #NoFap

Meet 'Abstinence Bar,' the Homegrown Chinese Version of #NoFap

WUHAN, China — A new article by a Chinese academic sheds light on “Abstinence Bar,” China’s homegrown version of the #NoFap semen-retention movement, which also endorses the scientifically discredited, Medieval/Victorian idea that cis men lose a kind of masculine “vital energy” whenever they ejaculate.

The article, titled “Wiped Out: The Young Chinese Men Trying to Quit Masturbation” by Zhou Lang, assistant professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, was translated and republished today by Chinese cultural analysis publication Sixth Tone.

According to Lang, “cut off from sites like Reddit, Chinese netizens have built their own version of the #NoFap movement centered on a Baidu forum: Jiese Ba, or ‘Abstinence Bar.’ There, its six million members are passionately re-stigmatizing masturbation or, as they put it: ‘quitting porn and masturbation and retrieving healthy, positive energy.'"

Lang has spent six years researching Abstinence Bar, which he sees as a reactionary movement prompted by China’s growing acceptance of sex.

Lang’s research shows that the majority of Abstinence Bar’s members are teenage males.

Kidneys and Karma

“As with #NoFap and other, similar Western communities,” he wrote, “many draw from history and tradition. Among young Chinese, rationales for quitting masturbation can be broken down into two overarching categories: physical and spiritual health.”

The local twist to the #NoFap rhetoric, based on debunked medieval notions about the relationship between masculinity and semen — savagely mocked in Stanley Kubrick’s "Dr. Strangelove" — is provided by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) notions.

According to TCM, Lang wrote, “masturbation burns through kidney essence, leading to kidney deficiencies and a host of other disorders.”

TCM’s theories about sex “dictate sexual intercourse not be too frequent and semen — the essence of the male body — not lightly expended. As one old saying puts it: ‘A drop of sperm is worth 10 drops of blood.'"

Besides these supposed kidney issues, Abstinence Bar members also invoke quasi-spiritual defenses of semen retention, “grounded in Buddhism and centered on resisting masturbation, seen as the embodiment of lust. One popular proponent of ‘jiese’ cites the Surangama Sutra: ‘Without severing lust, you will fall onto a dark path.'"

“Users talk of ‘masturbation demons’ and of being made fun of for being ‘Mr. Spent Kidneys’ — ‘shenxu gongzi.’”

One forum poster quoted by Lang blamed the “bad consequences summoned by (his) lustful heart,” for "a decline in his grades and prevented him from getting into a top high school."

"Evil lust damages one's luck in examinations as well as one’s good karma," he wrote.

To read “Wiped Out: The Young Chinese Men Trying to Quit Masturbation,” visit Sixth Tone.

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