Sexual revolution in China- between Kin Pingmei, Confucianism, Maoism, Gaokao and Internet

Sexual revolution in China- between Kin Pingmei, Confucianism, Maoism, Gaokao and Internet

A question that emerged for me as a sinology student at a very early stage, also based on personal experience with the Chinese in the 80s and 90s, was: How do the Chinese actually “do it”? A German girl friend had given me a copy of the Indian Kamastura and the Chinese Kinpingmei as a lure offer, as quite acrobatic and refined sex techniques were depicted and described there, which today are only performed in asexual form by the Chinese state circus, the state examination and as gaokao for Chinese acrobatics . At first one could have thought that these old high cultures and sophisticated Chinese had to be pure sex machines and love artists, until I came across a somewhat more disillusioning experience of the present. On the one hand, I noticed that the Chinese I talked to and discussed never addressed the topic of sex or love, blocked off questions and diverted the conversation. And since you couldn’t talk about sexuality anyway, you triedto talk about love, but there were no romantic stories how they get to know each other and love – at first sight – stories or anything like that, but you were taught by a Chinese teacher that there are no real love marriages in China, but above all marriages on purpose and that it would not the way it is in the West, although it is not quite so in the West. So in China neither love nor sex seemed to matter. Somehow it seemed embarrassing to them and a taboo that was excluded in order not to question one’s own existence, but only to function as an ambitious collective without individualsim, not to know any individual or even a real love-couple relationship, nor even to ask such distracting and disturbing questions at all, but best to avoid and forbid them.

Blue working and learning ants of an ant and insect state, where only the queen has sex, but not for pleasure and fun, but to supply the anthill with new warriors and working ants. When I had a conversation with a pretty and intelligent Chinese woman, she told me that she felt safe with German men, because they were more asexual, unlike these Italians, who were talking all the time about Amore. Either she had had bad experiences with latin lover machos, but I had the impression that she wasn’t interested in sexuality beyond the Grand State Exam, the gaokao and before marriage and that  we shouldn’t talk about this topic either. Apparently she seemed to perceive us German men as disciplined, asexual, puritanical work robots who were platonic soulmates in this relationship and I then reinforced this impression. We broke off the conversation and learned together on the gaokao and thereby the meaning of life was restored. Workoholics and not sexoholics.

This impression solidified when our Chinese professor gave us a text to translate in the Chinese class, which was due to the proletarian cult of the Communist Party of China and which dealt with a model worker ala Stakhanov and ala model people’s liberation armist Lei Feng, who was an avid welder and did his boring, monotonous work, which he made the more zealous because of their emptiness and also overfulfilled and exceeded the production target. In good CP fashion we should then write an essay for reflection, praising the hero of  work and taking him as a role model, but this text caused hedonistic resistance in me. In my re-education essay, I wrote that this worker was a poor pig who only had his work on his mind because otherwise he would probably not have a real  life. Especially since the model proletarian wouln´t  have good sex, a wife, friends, hobbies, other interests or would he project his phallus in his soldering stick? Two worlds collided here. The Chinese professor was visibly irritated, did not understand what I had written, or just very well, but attributed this to translation and understanding errors on both sides so that we could both keep our face.

I also found learning lessons with Chinese from the Goethe Institute interesting. The Chinese gave me the impression that they wanted to study for the state examination, not conversations, but just learning and getting better, whereas a Chinese Uyghur from the Goethe Institute had a completely different attitude towards life and learning. After just one hour of study, he said that we Germans were just work robots like the Chinese and that we should go to one of the cozy Bavarian beer gardens for the study hour instead of sitting in a room and move the whole thing into a more pleasant, less stressful atmosphere, give the whole thing a more relaxed approach, which we then did and also learned a little. But he seemed to have what modern labor researchers. philosophers of life and sociologists also refer to it as work-life balance.

Then in Beijing in 1990 at the Foreign Language Institute, we foreigners were isolated from the Chinese in our own student dormitories. A party was organized by the Italian women, but men and women were separated and when we got into the women’s dormitory we had to pass an old porter who was a real dragon and only with a few gifts and the proclamation of the highest moral and good intentions, there was admission — and officially we only wanted to give tutoring in Chinese. So we prepared for the gaokao and with that all gates in China open, especially with those old dragons who find it laudable. When I held a private room party with a Palestinian and 2 American women in my dormitory flat, less than 10 minutes passed when institute director Gu managed to enter the room without knocking at the door to see whether it was moral. Since then we have called him, based on Orwell’s 1984, “Mr. Gu is watching you! „.However, when we said we would study together, have a Chinese conversation lesson, and prepare for the exam, he happily left. Gaokao or the reference to it is the key in China. Furthermore, I looked around several Chinese cities for pornographic literature, because I wanted to know what the Chinese are looking at. There was nothing to be found in the official bookstores, Chinese acquaintances had officically nothimng like that, at the street vendors there were only magazines with  slightly dressed bikini girls and otherwise black censorship bars that covered everything and when asked whether they had not even a normal Playboy or even porn or naked pictures at all, the shook their heads and said that it was too dangerous and should not be sold to strangers, but within an initiated, subversive community. No sums of money in prospect of higher amounts were of any use – simply too dangerous. A small exception was the TV soap Xiaoya, Little Duck, on Chinese television. A young Chinese girl who is going through something like a Chinese puberty and who also asks one or two critical questions to her parents. The highlight was when Xiaoya has a little friend. But smooching teenagers, sex, love, premarital intercourse, early pregnancy and that sort of thing were of course never were an issue, not even hints of the same (although that would probably not be the rule in German series either), but the youngboyn was sat on her parents‘ side at the common dining table and being  Interviewed about this family background and career prospects and the gaokao state examination. Going into your own room as a girl with a boyfriend and being undisturbed, as Western teenagers do, did not exist as an option. But for Chinese standards it was a small revolution that the little duckling had a little duck friend.

In China, in the mid-1990s, I visited one of the state cultural centers which gave an educational lecture for married couples against AIDS. The lecture was a propaganda film in which AIDS was portrayed as the moral decadence of the laizessfair West, which, due to the higher Chinese (sexual) morality, would not be spread in China, provided that marital fidelity was observed. Furthermore, film clips from Rock Hudson and Doris Day were shown and then Rock Hudson was shown as a homosexual AIDS death. Western dream couples are just an mirage and not reality. In another city I was invited to an evening at the cinema by a young couple of teachers. A western low-budget film of the most primitive kind was shown. Crime scene: Hollywood. The story plot: Young women who want to become actresses are arbitrarily arrested by corrupt US police officers and put in a kind of sex prison, where they were sexually sadomasochistically abused by the police officers and prison guards, although there was still a happy ending. Since this was a western film, one seemed to get the impression that this is how the Chinese imagine the West to be. But about the enemy image of the corrupt and morally depraved West, I also asked myself whether such films find such demand in China because they arise from the sexually suppressed fantasies of authoritarian psyches who enjoy typically sadomachistic power games. In any case, it became clear to me that China had not yet had a sexual revolution like the one in the Westsince the 1960s and was not obsessed with Kinpingmei, but sticked more with Confucius, Maoism and Gaokao. Since then, another 3 decades have passed and now for the last decade there have been reports of a sexual revolution in China that is sweeping across society. There is also talk of a sexual people’s revolution in the People’s Republic of China.

China’s high-speed sexual revolution?

An example of this is the article by Sarah Buckley „China’s high-speed sexual revolution“, in which China’s first sexologist Li Yinhe is taken as a benchmark and also the following indicators of premeditated sex, prostitution, pornography, swinger parties and sex parties and the liberalization of criminal law, or the cautious behavior of the authorities in this regard:

„Over the last 20 years, Chinese attitudes to sex have undergone a revolution – a process carefully observed, and sometimes encouraged, by the country’s first female sexologist, Li Yinhe.„In the survey I made in 1989, 15.5% of people had sex before marriage,“ says Li Yinhe. „But in the survey I did two years ago, the figure went up to 71%.“ It’s one of many rapid changes she has recorded in her career. She uses the word „revolution“ herself and it’s easy to see why. Until 1997, sex before marriage was actually illegal and could be prosecuted as „hooliganism“.

It’s a similar story with pornography, prostitution and swingers‘ parties.In 1996 the owner of a bathhouse was sentenced to death for organising prostitution, Li said in a lecture to the Brookings Institution last year, but now it is widely practised. The most severe punishment these days, according to Li, would be the closure of the business.

Publishers of pornography could also be sentenced to death as recently as the 1980s, as could those who organised sex parties. Now the punishment for pornography is less draconian and swingers‘ parties, while still illegal, are common. „No-one reports them, so they do not get noticed,“ Li says.

Reference is also made to the one-child policy. If sex as a form of reproduction is only there for 1 child, it is also limited to one transaction and sex then looks for new forms and valves that serve more pleasure:

“One of the main driving forces behind changing attitudes towards sex was the Communist Party’s one-child policy, which was enforced from 1979-2015, according to Li.
“The one child policy allows people to only have one or two children. So if you don’t give up sex afterward, you’re changing your purpose in having sex. Having sex for pleasure is also justified, ”she says.

China’s sex from the agrarian society through the Qing Dynasty to Mao

Basically, one has to say that almost all societies developed out of feudal and agraic societies and the predominant form of agrarian society was patriarchal monogamy, where sex in the peasant classes, even up to the upper class, was notfor pleasure, but for the pure reproduction of state and warrior people, whereby the peasants and emperors wanted sons in order to have a dynastic successor and heir for the management of their land – the state property. Kinpingmei is also not a script that would have been accessible to the masses of Chinese peasants, but a sexual script that was reserved for the imperial court, the upper class and the educated, especially since there were no mass printing machines. Similar to the Kama Sutra in India which was not a sex education pamphlet for the masses, but commissioned by an Indian king who, in view of the falling birth rate of the upper class and its decadence, wanted to guide them to sexual pleasures that could increase the reproduction rate of the upper class. Hence, neither Kamasutra nor King Pingmei spread among the peasant masses of these feudalist agrarian states

To what extent Confucianism dealt with sexual questions and how Confusianists felt about King Pingmei would be a question. Confucianism saw everything under the question of social and cosmological harmony clearly ordered hierarchies, the subordination of the subject to the ruler, the woman to the man, the son to the father, so it advocated the feudal system and probably also its reproductive logic. In any case, one could never read in sinology studies what Confucius or other Chinese philosophers thought about questions of sexuality and the like. Perhaps it was too physical and too less mental for them to deal with such questions. The sexual morality of the imperial court, including the concubines, was different from that of the mass of rural peasants.

Richard Burger, author of the book „Behind the Red Door-Sex in China“ writes:

„You can trace the evolution of sexual attitudes, but there is no single clear trajectory from open to closed and now back to kind of open again. Within different dynasties, China became very conservative with the influence of neo-Confucianists, especially during the Qing dynasty — the last dynasty — when prostitution and homosexuality was outlawed. A whole new consciousness came into China as it met the west via the Opium Wars and Western ideals for example. The notion of homosexuality being a sin or extramarital affairs being a sin began to take hold.The country became obsessed with nationalism. Sexual openness and women’s rights became a low priority.

China’s shift to conservatism really reached its peak during the Qing dynasty, before that it had gone back and forth. Some members were very liberal, but others were reactionary. They even had some of China’s great works of erotic literature destroyed. What happened next was the nationalists and then Mao took over. For a brief while, around the time of the May 4th movement in 1912, it looked like China was about to liberalize, but it never really happened. The country became obsessed with nationalism. Sexual openness and women’s rights became a low priority.

The tragedy was really under Mao. While things had been getting dark in China regarding homosexuality, under Mao it went absolutely black. He considered any discussion of sex outside of the home to be a form of Western spiritual pollution and he insisted on total faithfulness, and monogamy. All of the brothels were methodically closed, and the prostitutes were reintegrated into society doing other work. This was a very, very dramatic shift. People began to wear that gender neutral Maoist clothing. This really culminated during the cultural revolution when the slightest reference to sex was seen as spiritual pollution, as a sign that you were a class enemy. [Sexuality] was extremely controlled and girls wore their hair short, they became androgynous, and the difference between the genders sort of merged. It was a very strange time and this continued throughout the reign of Mao Zedong and until the late 1970s.“

Even after the decolonization under the new rulers, whether in India or China, these writings were not used to bring about a sexual revolution or even to bring about mass distribution or to distribute their own sex education publications among the people. Ghandi was an ascetic and Baghwan his counterpart, as he called for the liberation of Indians from sexual repression, asceticism, socialism, the philosophy of poverty, ideology of sacrifice and renunciation,  promoted capitalism and getting rich, living in the here and now, sexual liberation, the individual and the abolition of the caste system what brought him many enemies in India, but all the more western followers of his social and life philosophy. India, like China, is still a deeply puritanical and sex-hostile states, with arranged marriages and the Bollywood films convey a wrong picture. Maoism saw sexuality as bourgeois, counterrevolutionary, decadent, capitalist, which only discouraged work and revolution, partly because sexuality was held beyond reproduction as a feudal relic of the emperors and their upper classes, the Kuomindang, yes, even Chiang Kaitschek had a patriarchal and double-moral understanding of sexuality, but the KMT was also related to the triads, especially in Shanghai and the entire prostitution, organized crime and the red light districts and brothels. Mao sent all the prostitutes to factories to reeducate them and exterminated the triads and prostitution in China.

But not only the extreme and illegal manifestations of sexuality, but Mao also saw sexuality among his subjects as counter-revolutionary and decadent and therefore any discussion about it or open manifestations on the part of the people were forbidden and prohibited. The communist world revolution and the resurgence of China know no sexuality or enjoyable debauchery or what was regarded as such, all of this was viewed as counter-revolutionary and was persecuted, although there was not much to suppress, since the peasant masses did not cry out for sexual liberation either, but for them land reform, literacy, medical care and simple survival without hunger and war were the most important needs in the hierarchy of needs of Chinese peasants which didn´t originate from advanced, luxurious Western modern capitalist affluent society. Especially since Mao did not change anything in the patriarchial worldview of Chinese society, but freed women from bound feet, the most brutal forms of patriarchal oppression of women and brought women in factories and production with their own wages and civilizised marriage law.

„According to China’s Sexual Revolution, by Miro Cernetig and Josh Freed, Chairman Mao married sexuality with capitalism (as forms of corruption and decadence). But now Chinese youth are embracing both with a passion. At warp speed, in fact. There are probably people necking in front of his statue right now, and that’s just for starters.

Here’s what happened. Sixty years ago, Mao turned “couples into comrades and not lovers, and cloaked men and women in the same unisexual suits,” according to the film’s narrator. Makeup was forbidden, and hairstyles were dictated by the government (they were not what you would call flattering). Men and women were supposed to feel only like brothers and sisters, and were supposed to regard sex merely as reproductive labour. Instead, they were supposed to get on with more important work. Um, like making cheap plastic sex toys for the rest of the world (70 per cent of which now come from China).

Why? The communist party regarded sex as an outdated feudal custom. And as Dr. Pan Sue Ming, a scholar featured in the doc says, they considered it dangerous since the Revolution needed “a man to want to fight against someone, but sex makes you love and happy.” The party even chose people’s spouses. And there were propaganda films portraying people who believed in “romance” as foolish, and a source of shame to their families. „

In Jung Chang’s Mao biography, Mao’s sex life is described as quite extravagant. He preached water and drank wine. Accordingly, his preference was for young, virgin women, because he was of the opinion that this would rejuvenate him and make him almost immortal, as Emperor Qin Shihuang believed he could gain eternal life with mercury potions, which, however, let him die. Mao saw in the young women a kind of anti-aging agent, an expression of his manhood and vitality, which should be kept healthy and thus celebrated a life like a rock star with his willing or unwilling groupies and worshipers backstage.

As always, it was not entirely clear in the Mao biography what Jung Chang was criticizing. Because there is also inflatory literature in Hong Kong and Taiwan and Chinese opposition circles about the real or supposed sexual and sometimes perverse excesses of leading CP members, which find a willing, downright sex-hungry and sensational readership. With consumers, one cannot be sure whether they are now demanding that not only the party cadre may indulge in sexual pleasures, but also the people, i.e. it is a demand in the direction of general sexual liberalization, or whether sexually repressed creatures reading this dirty literature and sex -and crimestories, because  they themselves  would like to live like that, sexy and powerful, House of Cards and Sex and the City in one, but externally demand moral puritanism from superiors, which could be a demand more in the direction of general sexual repression for everyone, including the party cadre. Mao also seems to have acted like a Chinese Harvey Weinstein and there are for sure tens of millions of them in China too, given their abundance of power. It is also interesting that while the CCP censorship allowed the LGBT community’s activities on China’s social media to run wild for a while, it nipped all attempts at Me Too campaigns in the bud, as this arguably threatened the CCP and its cadres .

An interesting consideration on this topic, also during the Cultural Revolution, is the contribution by Emily Honig in Modern China „Socialist Sex: The Cultural Revolution Revisited“ Vol. 29, no. 2 (Apr., 2003), pp. 143-175 (33 pages)[RO1]

With the policy of liberalization and opening under Deng Xiaoping and his 4 modernizations, Wei Jingsheng and his democracy wall movement demanded the fifth reform, Chinese democracy. The sixth reform, the sexual revolution, was not called for at that time. A pioneer in this regard was the sexologist Li Yinhe., A kind of Chinese Oswald Kolle. The difference, however, is also that Li did not make a name for herself with the distribution of sex education films like Oswald Kolle in the 1960s and 70s, or with Beate Uhse selling a sex trade, but through scientific publications that were not intended for a mass audience. As a young sociologist, Li spent much of the 1980s studying in Pittsburgh, in the US. When she returned to China, she found a country still living in the puritanical climate set by Mao. In the early years of Communist rule, writing about love was considered bourgeois. It became possible toward the end of the 1950s, Li has said, but writing about sex was forbidden until the 1980s – and even then authors could only go so far.

Li’s book, The Subculture of Homosexuality, published in 1998, could only be bought by people who had invitation letters from their employers or held senior positions.

The official position on her book The Subculture of Sadomasochism, published at about the time, was even more extreme.

„I was informed to burn all copies… But by then, 60,000 volumes had been sold out. So the burning notification was left unsettled,“ she says.

Her translation of a book on bisexuality was refused by Chinese publishers, and she had to look beyond mainland China to Hong Kong, to find a publisher for her own study of polysexuality. But the Communist Party has increasingly seen sexuality as a private matter and Li has been allowed relative freedom in her academic research and in her writing.

„She positions herself as an avant-garde academic who’s introducing the so called international standards towards sexuality… And therefore she’s tolerated by her colleagues, a general audience and the regime as well,“ says Dr Haiqing Yu, co-author of the book Sex in China.

One of the main impulses driving the change in attitudes to sex, according to Li, was the Communist Party’s one-child policy, which was enforced from 1979 to 2015.

„The one-child policy allows people to have one or two kids only. So unless you give up sex afterwards you are changing your purpose of having sex. Having sex for pleasure gets justified too,“ she says.

„People are going through a revolutionary change in their mind and behaviour and my research is at the forefront of the struggle.

„When I gave a lecture in Tianjin, over 1,000 people attended it… I think the desire suppressed in people’s hearts has bounced out.“ Accused by a blogger of being a closet lesbian, Li responded in December 2014 with a blog post that revealed her partner of 18 years was a transgender man. To her surprise, the response was mostly positive and the couple were photographed for the cover of People Weekly, a popular magazine.

„I think they find transsexualism more acceptable than homosexuality,“ says Li.

„Why? Because a trans is defined as heterosexual… heterosexuals wrapped in the wrong body.“

She adds: „The real signal of social tolerance is the society’s attitude towards homosexuality.“ Homosexuality was only removed from China’s official list of mental illnesses in 2001 and gay rights are still limited.

Gay marriage is not legal, there is no anti-discrimination protection for gay people in the workplace, and an undercover film last year found Chinese doctors still offering electroshock therapy to „cure“ homosexuality – even though a Beijing court had recently ruled against the practice.

But Li believes that gay rights will gradually evolve too. Gay men and women used to be invisible in Chinese society, she points out, but have come to the surface in the last few years.A positive article in China Daily on the 2011 Shanghai Pride march was a turning point, with other official media following the newspaper’s lead and beginning to mention the LGBT community, Li says.

This year Addiction, a drama about four gay teenagers, was a major success for iQiyi, China’s leading online video platform, until it was pulled a few days ago without explanation – generating millions of indignant posts on the Weibo microblogging service.Li herself has submitted several proposals to the Chinese parliament calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which she thinks will happen one day, though says it’s hard to predict when.“Homosexuality will be better recognised,“ she says.

„Foucault [the French philosopher] once said, there was no society in the world where sex was absolutely free. There are always restrictions. But I believe the more freedom is offered for sex in a society, the happier people get.“

‘Sexual revolution’ has become a buzzword used by scholars both within and outside China to capture the transformation of individual choice in love, dating and sexuality in China today.

According to Chinese sociologist Pan Suiming, Chinese society has undergone a shift from ‘sex for reproduction’ to ‘sex for pleasure’, and a sexual revolution – rather than a gradual evolution in sexual behaviour and relationships – has taken place in China which has now more or less reached its successful conclusion.

Other scholars are relatively reserved about the claim by Pan, however. For example, sociologist Li Yinhe said in an interview in 2008 that although China had begun a sexual revolution, it was only at the very beginning stage. I argue that the so-called sexual revolution in China is an unfinished project, because the revolution in sexual behaviour is not the same as a fully fledged sexual revolution based on human rights, sexual autonomy and gender equality.

When sex is no longer deeply tied to reproduction, sexual behaviours and practices that were once considered to be ‘abnormal’, ‘illegal’ and ‘immoral’ flourish

Scholars such as Anthony Giddens have argued that in the West, the separation of sex from reproduction and the increasing emphasis on sexual love and sexual pleasure are usually regarded as representative of a sexual revolution in terms of making possible the acceptance of non-reproductive sexual love, and thus non-heterosexual relationships. However, in China, the unusual phenomenon is that the introduction of the one child policy (1978–2015) has interrupted the traditional link between sex and reproduction. When a couple is only allowed to have one child, most sex throughout a lifetime has to have the purpose of mutual affection and sexual pleasure.

With the wide accessibility of contraceptive devices and abortion, the separation of sex from reproduction is further validated. When sex is no longer deeply tied to reproduction, sexual behaviours and practices that were once considered to be ‘abnormal’, ‘illegal’ and ‘immoral’ flourish – premarital sex, masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, multiple sex, one-night stands, extramarital sex, cybersex, commercial sex, couple swapping, homosexual sex – as numerous studies show.

Besides the one child policy, other state policies also play a huge role in making the issue of sexuality more ambivalent, sometimes with unpredictable consequences. The institutionalised ‘sweeping the erotic and cracking the illegal’ (sao huang da fei) campaign has never stopped, and it continues to make great efforts to combat ‘spiritual pollution’.

For example, the state has maintained a consistent line towards pornography and commercial sex, and both remain officially illegal, even as both are widely sought after and practised – at least by state officials and businessmen, as various studies show. Yet studies also show that Chinese youth consume just as much pornographic material as do American youth, and the prevalence of commercial sex in China is higher than in most countries in East and Southeast Asia.

The market as the driving force, playboy and metrosexuals

„This is a kind of grass-roots sexual revolution,“ said Annie Wang, author of „The People’s Republic of Desire,“ a satirical novel about the mad race to modernization.

The government announces periodic crackdowns on pornography and often censors sexual content in magazines and on the Web. But since about 2000, the censors have started to look the other way. Political activism is still a no-no in New China. Entertainment is a different matter. Even the Web site of Xinhua, the official press agency, offers slide shows of the „10 Hottest Babes of 2006“ and „Rarely Seen Photos of Sexy Men.“Many say the trend is being driven by the market, and by entrepreneurs eager to cash in on the freer lifestyles on the mainland.

„The market is the No. 1 driving force behind the boom of such magazines,“ said Pan Suiming, a professor of sociology at Renmin University in Beijing. Western luxury brands entering the mainland market want to advertise in popular magazines and on Web sites that draw consumers. And on the mainland right now, pictures of sex kittens draw.

For Him Magazine is one of the success stories of this genre, with a circulation of about 480,000. It probably helps that the magazine is published by a government agency, the National Tourism Administration, an indication of official interest in investing in the phenomenon.Jacky Jin, the magazine’s editor in chief, said he wanted to affirm a new kind of lifestyle for readers that he calls the new mainland metrosexuals, guys who love cars, gadgets and girls.“ So a kind of Chinese playboy ala Hughes Heffner, as played by Rock Hudson in the films with Doris Day, whereby in the end they always got married. In China, however, the Playboy and AIDS gay Rock Hudson in official propaganda has so far been more for the degenerate West. But maybe Chinese playboys are then different from Western playboys in more modern KP propaganda.

The Internet as a driver of the sexual revolution in China

Liu, Jindian & Cheng, Mingwang & Wei, Xinyu & Yu, Ning Neil, summarize their 2020 study. „The Internet-driven sexual revolution in China,“ Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 153 (C) as follows:

Based on data from the Chinese General Social Surveys from 2012, 2013, and 2015, this paper empirically studies the impact of the Internet on sexual attitudes, using ordinary least squares regressions and ordinal logistic regressions, followed by regressions that use the instrumental variable method and propensity score matching method for causal inferences. Our results suggest that Internet-usage frequency has a significantly positive impact on sexually permissive attitudes, including attitudes toward premarital sex, extramarital sex, and homosexual behavior. For example, a regression that uses instrument variables reveals that an increase of one standard deviation for Internet-usage frequency is associated with an increase of 0.6154 standard deviations for sexually permissive attitudes. Further, through the mediation effect model, this study probes the influence of Internet usage on sexually permissive attitudes, revealing that social network and education attainment account for 2.37% and 11.09%, respectively, of the total effect. The findings bolster the common perception that the Internet plays a crucial role in the sexual revolution in China.“

„The country’s economic reforms began in the early ’80s and, although state media retains a tight grip over television and radio, Internet access provides a mind-expanding explosion of sexual consciousness. Today, with 1.28 billion smartphones in use, technology is reshaping the game of love in ways that few imagined.

Politically sensitive news and resources have become much more accessible, but the masses seem more interested in western entertainment. Television shows like Girls and Masters of Sex are available online, and they may be more responsible than any other factor for the shift in young Chinese attitudes. Iris Bian, 28, is a market researcher based in Beijing. As a woman who watched Sex and the City at the age of 14, she knows that in China her attitudes are urban and progressive. But she says that such attitudes are spreading to the farthest reaches of the country.

“Even if you are living in a third- or fourth-tier city,” she says, “you still know how to use Momo, right?” Momo is a cellphone app that has been widely used in China to facilitate casual sexual encounters.

Traditionally, dating in China was marriage- and family-focused. It was common for parents and their social circle to suggest who to date, and which restaurant to dine at. Sex and marriage carried the weight of passing on ancestors’ lineage.“

But the market, smartphones, apps and the Internet catalyze and broaden the sexual needs of those who have been sexually oppressed for a long time or who have been regressed by the state and the party, who have their overpressure valve in them, and forms of sexual activity and performance that are also somewhat uptight arise appear deformed and forced, so that Dr. Wang Xiying, professor at the Faculty of Education at Beijing Normal University in China and visiting scholar at the Harvard Yenching Institute (until May 2020). In her latest book “Gender, Dating and Violence in Urban China” from “the unfinished sexual revolution in China „speaks:

The unfinished sexual revolution in China

Besides the one child policy, other state policies also play a huge role in making the issue of sexuality more ambivalent, sometimes with unpredictable consequences. The institutionalised ‘sweeping the erotic and cracking the illegal’ (sao huang da fei) campaign has never stopped, and it continues to make great efforts to combat ‘spiritual pollution’.

For example, the state has maintained a consistent line towards pornography and commercial sex, and both remain officially illegal, even as both are widely sought after and practised – at least by state officials and businessmen, as various studies show. Yet studies also show that Chinese youth consume just as much pornographic material as do American youth, and the prevalence of commercial sex in China is higher than in most countries in East and Southeast Asia.

Censorship of sexual issues and LGBT issues is everywhere, and the government is reticent about openly addressing sexual topics. The boundary between public and private is never clear, and under the pressure of state censorship and the sao huang da fei campaign, although people might think that they have freedom and autonomy – at least in their private lives – they may not be fully aware that sometimes even private activities can be problematic.

The current ‘sexual revolution’ does not challenge the traditional moral and gender norms, which makes it vulnerable to the intrusion of state power to discipline and intervene in matters concerning individuals’ bodies and their sexuality. A real revolution usually needs a completely new value system and a core leadership to bring about rapid change in society and push things forward.

However, the so-called sexual revolution in China is more a matter of numerous spontaneous sexual behaviours emerging from the change in society, with neither a clear value system nor a core leadership. The feminist movement and the LGBT movement have undergone significant development over the past two decades, but sexual rights and sexual autonomy have never been put at the heart of the movement.

The worst part of the current ‘sexual revolution’ in China is that it has not granted sexual autonomy equally to men and women, young and old, or urban and rural populations. Instead, it makes the existing sexual double standard even more intense and refashions patriarchy in a different mode.

Studies show that more educated men engage in more sexual practices and activities, and that men with money and power have more opportunities to have ernai (second wives) and xiaosan (mistresses), or to visit sex workers. Such practices find the most favourable soil in patriarchal societies with a sexual double standard: chastity and fidelity are expected from women, while there is acceptance and tolerance of men’s pursuit of multiple sexual partners.

In contrast, a great many rural poor men have trouble finding wives, and sex trafficking in certain remote areas becomes a serious problem. And when young educated women decide to pursue their sexual autonomy, they may face much more criticism, pressure and slut-shaming from friends, family and society than their male peers.

The discourse of ‘leftover women’ is so profound that women in their late twenties feel they cannot escape from the pressure to get married, as if marriage were the only ‘right’ path. Large numbers of under-educated girls migrate to the cities, where their choices can be very limited – becoming a factory girl, working in the service industry, marrying a city man, or entering the commercial sex industry – and sexual capital becomes their most valuable asset for achieving upward mobility.

In the LGBT world, the formality of marriage for gays and lesbians is, in a way, a modern arrangement, having the spirit of a contract used to cope with the traditional pressures to marry and have children. In the current institutional marriage system in China, single women are unable to enjoy the same reproductive rights as married women since the state still only grants reproduction permits to married women.

China’s so-called sexual revolution remains unfinished because it neglects gender equality, strengthens the sexual double standard and refashions the patriarchy. How to push the current ‘sexual revolution’ forward to make people happier, freer, more equal and more autonomous in fulfilling their human potential is a question that remains to be answered.

But sexual knowledge is also not particularly widespread, especially among the country eggs that come to the cities, but also not among many city dwellers. The most fundamental sex lessons would be necessary here.

“However, watching porn is a bad way to get information about reproductive health, and China lags far behind Western countries in sex education. The rate of sexually transmitted diseases, once rare in Chairman Mao’s years, has now increased. Sex ed classes were held nationally in 2008, although the China Daily reported that some students found the classes to be inadequate. Contraception, for example, was often left untreated.
Unplanned pregnancies are rampant these days, with a likely low estimate of 13 million abortions a year: a rate roughly three times that of Canada. Another 10 million post-drug pills are sold annually in China without a prescription.
„I’m all for sexual liberation,“ says Steinfeld, „but at the same time I think that you have to understand these freedoms when you have new freedoms.“

Liberation for LGBT

After homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness and homosexuals do not have to expose themselves to any healing and re-education courses, the scene is growing here too and is networked via suitable apps:

“Bian has researched a variety of dating apps for her job and of course uses them personally. “More people mean more opportunities in life,” she enthuses. „It opens up and diversifies your lifestyle, your life choices.“
Bian concludes that people find themselves out by dating; The better they find out about themselves, the better their chances of finding happy, healthy, long-term relationships.
Momo was once the main one-night stand app, although Tantan recently replaced it. Thanks to GPS, trysts were quickly arranged. „These apps allow you to be more open and make a person’s purpose more direct,“ says a man who doesn’t want to share his name. „There are many ways to join when people are looking for the same thing.“
The LGBT population is possibly the group most supported by this digital revolution. Ji Faye, a young professional in Beijing, points out that you can’t just ask someone if they’re gay at a group dinner, but that you can easily check if they’re in an app like Blued or Aloha. „

Likewise, due to the one-child policy and the fact that, due to Confucian patriarchal and feudalist traditions, many Chinese abort girls to have a son, China now faces a surplus of young men who are desperately looking for a better female half, which they then find themselves in overthrow prostitution or import women from other Asian countries or even have them robbed, but conversely there are now more self-confident young Chinese women who do not want to marry and are stigmatized as sheng / leftover.

Freud, Wilhelm Reich and Marxism

Sexology was not only influenced by sociology, but also to a large extent by psychoanalysis and Sigmund Freud. Freud declared the human sexual instinct to be the real life instinct and the driving force behind all human activity. Its suppression in early childhood development leads to neuroses, mental illnesses, perversions, aggressions, etc. C.G. Jung saw less the sex instinct here, but rather archetypes at work in humans, which led a collective subconscious. Wilhelm Reich, who in turn was close to the Frankfurt School, tried to bring psychoanalysis and Marxism together. In his programmatic work “The mass psychology of fascism” he claims that the sexual repression by the petty bourgeois family causues a hardening of the psyche, creates an authoritarian and aggressive character that is the prototype of the fascist. In addition, Reich was of the opinion that the Nazis had usurped a manipulative sex symbol and sexual archetype by means of the swastika, which had an effect on the assumed collective subconscious of the Germans. Since Wilhelm Reich later also claimed this from Stalinism, he was excommunicated as a petty-bourgeois sex professor and un-Marxist, so that he then went to the USA to be persecuted there with his teachings because of the sex-hostile puritanism. As with Freud, the suppression of the sex instict leads to fascism and Stalinism, and only the sexual liberation of man and society can produce a free society.

As a Marxist current in Marxism, Reichism did not make it into traditional Marxism, was opposed by Stalinism and whether  Freud´s or his teachings ever made it to a Chinese audience is unknown. Reichism is likely to have been suppressed and fought by Maoism just as it was by Stalinism. Freud had also once postulated that most cultural achievements and civilizational advances were also due to the suppression of sexuality emphasizing pleasure and the renunciation of instincts, since people then let off their suppressed sexual energies in work, war, art, writing, learning and the like. To what extent these theories have a true core is questionable. Conversely, a sexually balanced and happy sex life is also seen as a prerequisite for a physically and mentally satisfied, socially stable and balanced person and member of society, insofar as this does not go into a hedonistic excessive party and orgy life, that prevents any learning, social life and work. Just as modern industrial psychologists speak of work-life balance today, one could also speak of a work-sex-life balance. Such theories and thoughts do not seem to be in vogue on the part of KP at the moment.

Kommentare sind geschlossen.