'Sexual revolution' in place
Updated: 2005-11-08 11:47
Once a taboo topic in China, sex is now becoming
something that can be discussed at the dinner table.
"Chinese people are experiencing a sexual revolution," said Li Yinhe, China's
first female sociologist on sex issues, in Guangzhou Monday.
Li delivered a speech yesterday on "Emotion and sex of Chinese in social
reform" in the capital city of South China's Guangdong Province, as part of the
Third Chinese (Guangzhou) Sex Festival.
Sex issues such as one night stands, extramarital affairs, prostitution,
cohabitation, contraception and abortion have already become part of Chinese
people's life, Li said.
Li has been shocked at how rapidly Chinese people's sexual attitudes are
changing. According to her study in Beijing, the percentage of Chinese people
having premarital sex was 15.5 per cent in 1989, which increased to 60-70 per
cent in 2004.
"The ratio in Guangdong reached 86 per cent," Li said in her speech, "which
shows that Guangdong is probably the most sexually open place in China."
"Even though sex is becoming more open in China, the majority of Chinese
believe sex is private and a negative thing that can't be talked about in
public," Li said.
Li listed three reasons behind such an attitude. One is the traditional view
that tells people to be abstinent in order to stay healthy. Too much sex is
unhealthy, according to traditional Chinese medicine.
Another is asceticism that was encouraged by the Chinese Communist Party
during the war periods.
Moreover, Chinese culture views sex as a shameful act.
Li said during her 10 years of study about the sex life of Chinese people,
such as her survey on women's initiatives in having sex and homosexuality, she
encountered a great deal of misunderstanding.
Li said many Chinese have ignored their rights to sex, considering sexual
life as a marital obligation rather than personal enjoyment.
One of her surveys shows that 26 per cent of Chinese women never experienced
a sexual climax, a much higher figure than the Western countries' 10 per cent.
"The women in Western countries would talk to psychologists or friends when
they have sexual problems, but most Chinese women are too shy to do so," Li
Li said the sex is something like the economy in China, which has seen
tremendous changes in the past two decades. She said that in no more than 20
years, Chinese would "catch up" with Western countries in becoming more open to
Yesterday's speech was held in the auditorium of Guangdong provincial
government, which attracted more than 1,000 people, including a large number of
Li Yinhe has a PhD degree in sociology from Pittsburgh University in the
United States and a post-PhD degree in Sociology from Beijing University. She
was once listed as one of China's "50 Most Influential People" by Asian