Students favor sex studies
A gender studies course being offered at Shanghai University is a big hit among students.
University officials said yesterday that hundreds of young adults have expressed great interest in the course, which will start next week.
Other schools, including Fudan University, Jiao Tong University and Shanghai Teachers University, already offer such courses, which have become popular since they first debuted last year.
"Almost all students in our campus are enthusiastic about gender studies, which really surpassed our expectations," said Zheng Guizhen, a sociologist at Fudan University.
One third of those enrolled in existing gender studies programs are male, with third- or fourth-year undergraduates forming the majority.
Gender studies focus on family-related issues such as love, marriage and gender, as well as the historical development of gender.
Family violence and sexism are also often covered. Students, especially females, debate different gender roles, school officials said.
Recently, the teacher of one class held at Fudan asked female students to consider what is more important - marrying a wealthy man or having a successful career. The answers were mixed.
Teachers, some old and some quite young, share their personal experience to guide students on sensitive but practical topics such as love and sex, Zheng said.
Marriage- and sex-related issues have long been taboo and were rarely mentioned at school.
Previously, gender studies were left almost entirely to academic researchers, mostly on the postgraduate level, according to local universities.
Students had no choice but to learn about sex through the Internet or from casual conversation with peers.
Educators, however, began to realize that some issues were just too important not to include in a formal curriculum.
"As sex and love problems are what students will most commonly meet, it is better to teach them properly rather than expose them to sordid materials for knowledge," said Huang Lili, a health official at Fudan.
Last semester, Fudan's medical school offered a course on homosexuality, analyzing gays and lesbian psychology.
"The kinds of courses being offered are amazing," said Shen Yaxin, a local university student. "It is also necessary for schools to teach us something practical on sex and love."