If you’re hoping to turn a dollar on that extremely explicit hentai you picked up in college, you won’t be selling it on eBay. As first noticed by Adult Video News, eBay is banning the sale of most sexually explicit materials starting June 15th, 2021.
Everyone has a different definition of what constitutes “sexually explicit” and eBay’s is extremely PG. While the policy is confusing in that it appears to conflate nudity and sexually explicit content, it carefully defines nudity as “showing any part of male or female genitalia, anus, or female breasts where the areola or nipple is visible.” It goes on to say that those same bits don’t get a pass if they’re covered by see-through material or confined by tight clothing. The policy also classifies “people engaged in sexual contact or activity” as nudity.
It goes on to say “most adult-only items are prohibited” and includes “sexually explicit anime, comics, books, films, animation, manga, hentai, yaoi” as among the things considered adult only.
The policy, as written, would appear to ban the sale of Game of Thrones, where “sexposition” was all the rage, as well as films like Blue is the Warmest Color. Your favorite romance novel would be safe (images, not words, appear to be the problem) but Alan Moore’s epic comic collection Lost Girls, where Wendy from Peter Pan and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz just really go at it in more pages than I personally wanted to see, would not. Explicit comics, explicit manga, hentai, and yaoi, which a pedantic might say are all the same thing, would be forbidden under the policy as well.
The policy does, however, carve out an exemption for Playboy, Playgirl, Mayfair, and Penthouse. Tasteful nudes sold in the Art section would also be allowed provided poses are acceptable and there are no sexual acts. What that means for prints of any version of Leda and the Swan is up to eBay. The same would likely go for the complete works of Katsushika Hokusai. The artist is best known for his woodblock print series featuring Mount Fuji, but was also known for his extremely explicit woodblock print erotica—including one of the earliest instances of “tentacle porn”.
Sex toys in unopened packages will continue to be permitted provided the packaging isn’t sexually explicit.
Censorship, even in a relatively open marketplace like eBay, is a notoriously tricky business. When Tumblr attempted to deal with its porn problem in 2018, it saw traffic take a nosedive as horny users went elsewhere. eBay told Vice that this new ban was in the interest of safety. Banning all adult content should make it more difficult for bad actors to monetize revenge porn or other content published without the consent of all participants.
When reached for comment eBay told The Verge:
eBay is committed to maintaining a safe and trusted marketplace. Starting June 15, 2021, items showing sexual content or sexually suggestive poses will no longer be allowed on eBay.com. The “Everything Else > Adult Only” will no longer be available as a category. No new listings will be allowed in the Adult Only category and good-til-cancelled listings will be ended upon their renewal date.