China’s passion for the “sharing economy” has created plenty of success stories, but an even greater number of more dubious contenders (see WiC369).
And one firm appears to have pushed the envelope a little too far with its offering of sex dolls.
Touch, which is listed on Beijing’s New Third Board, launched a rental model for sex dolls earlier this month. Through the company’s app, customers could select one of five models (including a doll inspired by DC Comic’s Wonder Woman), which were then delivered to their door.
Clients were even able to customise their dates, choosing hairstyles and outfits. Other add-ons included handcuffs and a voice function that responded to touch.
However, perhaps the most disconcerting addition was an option to have the doll “warmed up” before delivery.
All this certainly proved too much for Beijing’s police force, which ordered the company to drop its “vulgar” concept only four days after the products were launched, the South China Morning Post reports.
Touch then announced it was suspending the ‘shared girlfriend’ offer. “Soon after the ‘girlfriend sharing service’ launched, it triggered intense attention and heated discussion online… We were informed by relevant authorities and voluntarily cooperated with all the investigations and accept the punishment,” the company said.
Touch had previously assured its clients that each doll would be submitted to a sanitisation process between visits to customers and that the “critical parts” would be replaced after each use.
More frequent renters were also been offered the chance to keep the “lower half” of the dolls, to reuse the next time they ‘shared’ the higher-tech upper section. (For this premium service clients had to pay a hefty deposit of Rmb8,000 – or $1,119 – on top of the Rmb298 fee for a day’s rental.
Touch said in its statement that part of the reason it had been encouraged to suspend its shared girlfriend service was because of the forthcoming Party Congress.
But it argues that it offers an important service to its main market – which comprises migrant workers isolated from their wives, white-collar workers “too busy” to find girlfriends, and men struggling against the odds of China’s gender imbalance.
The company claims 53 million subscribers are registered on its app (which caters to sales of other sex toys). “Sex itself is not vulgar,” it insists.
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