Taiwanese men and women display entirely different patterns in terms of their preference for pornography. Elsewhere, we have explored these differences (Wong and Yau 2012; Wong and Yau 2014), here we simply wish to point out that Taiwanese men tend to prefer Japanese AVs over American pornography. The narrative structure of typical bishojo AVs, according to our research, contains a three-step process: the female character first appears as a cute, cheerful, gentle, and sexually naive woman, she is then introduced to the world of sex by the male character, and sexually stimulated via prolonged foreplay using various means. As a result of her sexual enlightenment, she then metamorphoses into a sexually passionate, active, and adventurous partner who enjoys and desires sex (Wong and Yau 2014). The general narrative structure of American pornographic movies, according to our research (Wong and Yau 2014), also contains three steps. However, in contrast, the female character appears as a sexually autonomous being who is not only experienced in sex and conscious of her sexual body, but also desires sex right from the outset. She and the male character ‘mutually’ stimulate each other through oral sex or other sexual postures and both of them greatly enjoy prolonged sexual intercourse through a wide range of sexual positions

It should be immediately apparent to readers that the narrative structure of bishojo AVs is closer to the abovementioned sexual script of Taiwanese men than it is to the scripts apparent in American pornography. Japanese AVs thus appear more ‘real’ to Taiwanese men than do the American productions. That is why Japanese AVs, especially bishoojo AVs, are more popular with Taiwanese men than American pornography.

The consumption of pornography by Taiwanese women is more complicated. Various research (Lin and Lin 1996; Lo et al. 1999; Lo and Wei 2005) has shown that Taiwanese women have generally had less interest in and exposure to either Japanese AVs or American pornographic movies. Hardy’s ethnographic realism can again help account for women’s lack of interest in pornography in Taiwan. As mentioned above, the female sexual subjectivity we identified among our informants is constructed as human-like and departs tremendously from the images of the female characters portrayed in the narrative structure of both Japanese AVs and American pornography. As a result, Taiwanese women do not identify with the female characters portrayed in either Japanese AVs or American pornography. The same ideas about the female sex also constrain the kind of men to whom Taiwanese women can be attracted: men must also be ‘human’-like. As we can see from the narrative structure of Japanese AVs and American pornography, in both the male characters are ‘animal’-like and therefore do not appear to be ‘real’ to Taiwanese women. In short, the Taiwanese women who participated in our research project could not identify with the male and female characters in either Japanese AVs or American pornography and that is why they tended not to be interested in watching pornography.

Another major reason that Taiwanese women do not find watching pornography interesting is that they cannot enjoy the experience of watching. We observed in our fieldwork in Taiwan that Taiwanese women’s sexual role required them to sexually entertain men; they were supposed to join their men in watching pornography rather than watching it by themselves. As a result, they were not consulted about when and where to watch nor about what they would like to watch. Even if they found some pornographic movies interesting, they were often forced to stop in the midst of viewing because their men wanted to have sex with them. Some of our women informants told us that they had never been able to finish watching a single pornographic movie in their entire lives.

Despite their lack of interest in pornography, the Taiwanese women we interviewed tended to reject Japanese AVs in favour of American pornography. We asked our women informants if they had to choose between Japanese AVs and American pornography, which they would prefer. Our women informants tended to choose American pornography rather than Japanese AVs. We argue that this identification is closely related to the frustrations arising from their simultaneous inability to decline such pornography viewing with men and inability to enjoy pornography — they could not refuse their men’s invitation to join in watching and could not enjoy watching as their viewing might be stopped abruptly. To simplify our argument enormously here, since women detest their male partners forcing pornography upon them, they could not but transpose this sense of hatred onto the Japanese AVs with which their men identified. In this way, Japanese AVs and Taiwanese men were rendered symbolically equivalent to each other. That is to say, Taiwanese women detest Japanese AVs as much as they detest male domination in sex. If these women detest male domination through vehemently rejecting Japanese AVs, perhaps we should not be surprised that they resist male domination through overtly identifying with the actresses in American pornography. This is especially true if we take into account the fact that Taiwanese men dislike American pornography. By recounting to us that they prefer the American pornography which their men disdain, these women are expressing their frustrations as women in male-dominated Taiwanese society. Hence, we can see that the consumption of Japanese AVs in Taiwan is mediated by the local sex roles of men and women discussed above.