Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Love – Part Three Posted by on Oct 18, 2011 in Culture

There was no such thing as "sexy" during the Cultural Revolution.

As I mentioned in my last post, attitudes toward sex in China have changed drastically over the past few decades. And, as Steve discussed in his post, the ratio of men to women has increased steadily over the same amount of time. So, what is the result for modern China? Well, for many Chinese men, it means a much more difficult road to finding a partner. According to a recent study, more than 24 million Chinese men of marrying age could find themselves without spouses in 2020. Just like the frat party full of drunk college boys and no girls, there’s not much good that can come of this situation. Many men resort to prostitution (卖淫 – mài yín), or they just accept the realities of bachelor-hood and take up an intense World of Warcraft hobby. For the women, however, they now find themselves more in control in a historically patriarchal society. Just one generation ago, people were forced into marriage by the Communist Party – marriages which would more often than not be loveless and sexless. In the Mao era, sex was viewed simply as a means of reproduction. Sex was forbidden before marriage, open discussion about sex was unheard of, and there was absolutely no such thing as a “sex life.” During the Cultural Revolution (文革 – wén gé), men and women wore the same asexual party garb, everyone had short hair, and cuples were more so comrades (同志 – tóng zhì) then they were lovers (情人 – qíng rén). Interestingly enough, the Chairman himself was quite the playboy(花花公子 – huā huā gōng zǐ); it’s said that he had a thing for virgins, which kept him young.


Part One of “China’s Sexual Revolution”, a fascinating documentary.

A thriving business in China these days.

Fast-forward to 2011, and oh my how things have changed in the Middle Kingdom. Pre-marital sex is now quite common in China, as is having sex with multiple partners. While China’s first sex shop opened just back in the mid-90’s, today there are over 5,000 sex stores – in Beijing alone. In fact, there are more adult stores in Beijing than there are in New York. Similarly, sex on the Internet has become quite rampant in China. Although pornography is officially illegal, and is condemened by the government, one need not look very hard to dig up “yellow movies” (黄色电影 – huáng sè diàn yǐng – the Chinese word for pornographic videos) on the web here. A Japanese adult film star, Sora Aoi, has more than 4 million Chinese followers on her microblog. While the government frequently tries to “sweep away the yellow” (扫黄 – sǎo huáng) with campaigns to shut down pornographic websites, their plan to create a “civilized internet” (文明办网 – wén míng bàn wǎng) simply can’t keep up with the countless blogs dedicated to sex. As a matter of fact, many Chinese are becoming so daring as to post homemade videos online. Take, for example, the famous blogger Muzi Mei (木子美 – Mùzǐ Měi). A few years ago, she made an audio recording of her love-making, which she proceeded to post on the Internet. It got so many visits that servers crashed for days. Since then, she has been hired by, been published in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and France, and has signed contracts in Japan, the Netherlands, and Germany.

You can even score Obama sex dolls in Chinese shops.

An interview with the legendary blogger herself, Muzi Mei.

Unfortunately, for some Chinese, the popularity of sex online has done more damage than good. Take, for example, the famous Hong Kong actor Edison Chen (陈冠希). A technician who was working on his computer discovered thousands of intimate photos of the star, which he went on to post online. Similarly, a lawmaker in southern Henan province was recently fired after screenshots from a sex video that he made were leaked online. Although most Chinese people will criticize and scorn this type of behavior, they sure do enjoy talking about it, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t either seen the Edison Chen pictures or is at least interested in checking them out. This represents what has come to be known as China’s “Confucian confusion”, where traditional conservative beliefs clash with a more modern approach to sex.

Sex ed in China - it's about time...

It should come as no surprise that young people in China are more and more interested in Internet pornography, as a recent report found that up to 70% of China’s youth received their sex education from yellow pictures and videos. In the past, sex education (性教育 – xìng jiào yù) was skipped entirely; parents and teachers were too embarrassed to discuss this intimate topic with children. These days, however, with an HIV/AIDS epidemic, teenage pregnancy, and higher rates of aborting, schools are beginning to implement more sex education – even for children as young as 6 years old. Some take interesting approaches, such as letting children take a tour of the opposite sex’s bathroom, while others are choosing to learn from special classes and textbooks.

Having come such a long way from the Mao era asexual clothing and hairstyles of the Cultural Revolution, it will be interesting to see how China’s Sexual Revolution progresses from here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Keep learning Chinese with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


  1. 李丹:

    Nice blog entries.
    I’m hopefully heading to China next year for 1 year study, so it’s nice to learn a little extra about the people before I go.


  2. Shannon:

    liked these two last ones a lot…ok I like a lot more of them than that…Thank you for the insightful information!!

  3. izleme site:

    thank you article perfect

Leave a comment: