|Chinese youth and their quiet sexual revolution|
By Mark Hiew, Board Member, Advocates for Youth
One of the less-covered stories within Western media’s ever-growing coverage of China, that rising giant looked upon with equal measures of suspicion and fear, is its continuing sexual revolution. Over my past two years here, I have consistently had any lingering preconceptions of conservative Confucian mores shaken by numerous sites: the multitude of sex toy stores, the open affection of young lesbian couples walking along the street, by high-school lovers making out in a club…in front of the guy’s parents, no less! This is a country modernizing as much in the bedroom as it is on the work floor.
So, where do young Chinese go to find out about sex and its many mysterious aspects?
Online, of course! Apparently, a number of Chinese language sites and message boards exist dedicated to sexuality topics, and now even radio agony aunts (and uncles!) are openly answering anxious youngster’s pleas for advice—think Dr. Drew, but speaking Mandarin.
Beyond sex ed, there are a number of curious differences between young Chinese sexual mores and that of the West. Whereas we have unequal notions of the “player” or “playboy,” a sexually promiscuous man looked up to by others (often men) compared to similarly promiscuous women, locals tell me that both men and women are widely and equally scorned by their peers for such “loose behavior.” And if that strikes some as reminiscent of the puritanical views of Confucianism and more recently, the Cultural Revolution (which only ended in 1976), than consider the way that young women are apparently free to dress as “tomboys” in men’s clothing and short hairstyles without ruffling many feathers, whereas any men considered too effeminate or homosexual in styling are largely condemned as “sissies.”
It may have been Mao who first proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky,” but I wonder when will the time come for gay men (or “comrades,” as they have come to ironically refer to one another) to find their own place in the People’s Republic?
One thing is certain: the One Child Policy, in shifting the focus of intercourse away from being merely a means of reproduction, has unwittingly opened up a whole new world of sexual freedom and opportunity for the average Chinese, of which they’re increasingly eager to take advantage.