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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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Swinging in China: A Teachable Moment?    

By Peter V
3097 Views | 3 Comments | 5/21/2010 6:07:17 PM
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Photo courtesy of www.workitmom.com

Turning on my computer this morning I see on Yahoo that a college professor in Nanjing, Ma Yaohai, has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison for “group licentiousness” for participating in group sex parties. It’s the first I've heard of the story (one of the drawbacks of being away from China is that you tend to miss all the good stuff), although supposedly the case has attracted huge public interest in China.

Why blog about something like this on a Chinese dating site? Because I believe that if we are serious about dating Chinese women, then we are going to have to attempt to understand each other’s culture. And my two years in China convinced me that on no issue is there greater misunderstanding and misinformation between our cultures than on sexual issues. So I guess I want to use this story as the basis for what President Obama called “a teachable moment.”

First, I will do a little of the instructing, but I hope the upshot of this article is that I wind up learning something. As I may have mentioned, I taught Chinese undergraduates for two years at Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu. One of the classes I was assigned during this time was an American Culture class where, naturally enough, we discussed the sexual attitudes of my homeland. It did not take long for me to realize that the United States as it was perceived by these students bore little resemblance to the country where I had lived my entire life. Regarding sexual matters in particular, the average American would not recognize the country as it existed in the minds of my students. According to them, ancient Rome in its heyday had nothing on the debauchery of my fellow countrymen.

I blame Sex and the City and Friends, as well as a number of my dissolute young countrymen living overseas, for much of their opinion. But anyone who thinks a couple of television shows and a handful of backpackers represent American attitudes towards sexuality does not understand my country. Sure, we have a high percentage of people who engage in pre-marital sex (95%). But much of that is within a monogamous relationship. Yes, we have a soaring divorce rate (50%). But most of these folks remarry, or want to. According to the most reliable survey I have seen on the subject, the average American man has slept with seven women, while the average American woman has slept with four men (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19374216/).That’s hardly an orgiastic lifestyle.Of course, there are people who can achieve those numbers in one weekend. But it’s not how most Americans are living.

So, if you don’t already know (and as has been said ad nauseum) America is a right of center (i.e., a relatively conservative) country, and if you don’t believe me wait around about six months for the midterm elections. What we do have in conjunction with this relatively conservative attitude is a tremendous amount of tolerance and a belief that for the most part people should be left alone to do what they want so long as their behavior does not harm others. This is why most Americans believe gay partnership should be legalized even though they may not personally approve of it. So much for American Sexuality 101.

What about China? Here, we Americans get conflicting signals. On the one hand, China is depicted as a very traditional, conservative society. On the other hand, the news story today is typical of many seen in the Western press in speaking about China as undergoing “an era of relative sexual freedom, where extramarital affairs and prostitution are common.” One advocate for such a position is Li Yinhe. Dubbed China’s most prominent sex expert, Li, who has been active in calling for greater tolerance for nonconventional sexual activities—including the legalization of orgies and prostitution—points out that attitudes about sexuality in China have changed dramatically in the last twenty years. Whereas a generation ago holding hands in public was frowned upon, these days, studies today indicate that 60 to 70 percent of Chinese have had sex before marriage, up from 15 percent in 1989. Add to this the fact that, according to one online survey, 70 percent of the respondents felt that Professor Ma should have been acquitted, and it sounds like there is a real sexual revolution afoot.

So here is a chance where the Chinese women on this site get to educate me and the rest of the men. I would be interested in having any of the you respond to the following two claims (men are also invited to make comments):

1. With rising prosperity and an easing of government controls on personal freedoms, China has moved toward a more progressive view on sex. Agree or disagree.

2, This is a good thing. Agree or disagree

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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(Showing 1 to 3 of 3) 1
#2010-05-22 20:57:33 by greengiant @greengiant

#1 - agree.
#2 - agree.
Comments : China is one of the most populated nations in the world and sex obviously has never been an issue within the family structure. Difference between the Chinese and western culture is that western culture constantly talks about sex, while Chinese people just do it.

GG

#2010-05-23 21:00:23 by msnothing @msnothing

1. agree
2. disagree

#2013-04-23 22:26:25 by sandy339 @sandy339

1.agree 2.agree

Afterall, each individual’s happiness is bigger and larger than a country’s benefit, especially in peaceful time, I think.

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