AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Sex in today’s China

Posted by ampontan on Monday, December 10, 2012

During the height of Maoist collectivism, puritan ethics ruled the day…Since the 1980s the glorification of “eating bitterness,” the endurance of hunger, the taboo of sex, and the denial of sexuality have been largely replaced by the glorification of wealth, the perfection of the culinary art, the explosion of eroticism, and anxiety over sexual prowess and sexual appeal. The individual body seems to take priority over the body politic. Many people see the current Chinese indulgence in food and sex as an emancipation of natural human desires from the shackles of former political oppression.

- Hsu Pi-ching

WHILE Hsu wrote that in the context of a review of a book whose author does not agree with the premise, it’s clear that a new kind of Cultural Revolution is underway in China. Read the English-language websites of some Chinese newspapers and growing number of English-language blogs written by Chinese, and it’s easy to see why some people would draw the conclusions expressed in the above quotation.

Let’s start with the Want China Times in Taiwan. The headline of a recent article is Sex Toy Trade Swells in China. I’ll bet!

As Chinese attitudes to sex evolve, products for the bedroom are becoming more commonplace; from hotel mini-bars to convenience stores and in the country’s booming retail outlets specializing in sex toys, the things are everywhere, news agency Reuters reports.

Thirty years ago, the mere image of a couple in passionate embrace on the back of a magazine could trigger fierce criticism and a whirlwind of complaint from the public, the report said. Yet beginning with the national wave of modernization ushered in by Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” policies, public attitudes toward sex have transformed. This, coupled with the wide open access to new information the internet has brought, means the sex toy market is throbbing and it presents big opportunities to farsighted entrepreneurs.

And here I thought Japanese convenience stores took a radical approach to inventory. They don’t have any vibrators or dildos in the outlets in my neighborhood.

The Chinese seem to have caught up to the wicked West rather quickly. People have already become so blasé about semi-nudity at auto shows they have to find other ways to push the envelope:

Visitors to an auto show in central Wuhan City were shocked to see a five-year-old girl wearing only a bikini and a wig blowing them a kiss while her other hand gently caressed a car.

She was one of three child models, aged four to five, wearing bikinis and striking “sexy” poses at the auto exhibition in the Hubei Province capital last Friday….

…. In a set of photos and a video recording, the three bikini girls are seen posing with other adult models. In one picture, a girl is seen trying to mimic a “sexy” pose by bending over while holding a car’s rearview mirror.

My first reaction was, Beijing or Shanghai, I might understand, but Wuhan? But that was before I did some quick research and found that 10 million people live in Wuhan.

Of course there was a reaction:

The display may have been at attempt to amuse visitors bored with the usual array of scantily-clad young women but instead the overwhelming reaction was one of outrage.

Tens of thousands of netizens expressed their fury at the girls’ parents and show organizers for “being willing to ruin their children’s lives for money” and “attracting public attention by crossing the moral red line.”

The revolution encompasses all the flavors:

More than 30 gays and transsexuals paraded in Changsha on Nov 24 to struggle for the gays’ rights and urge an end to violence and discrimination.

They were letting it all hang out, too. One of the marchers held up a small sign that read: I love LGBT.

Now here comes the backlash. This is primarily a photo post, but here’s the text. Note the last two sentences:

This is the first beauty pageant in China. (N.B.: It looks like the 1950s.) It was organized by Youth League Committee of Guangzhou city. It was called “The first beauty pageant of Ram City”. (Ram City is a nickname for Guangzhou.) It is not only the first beauty pageant in Guangzhou, but also in China… In that beauty contest, Guangzhou China hotel invites make-up specialist from Hong Kong to dress and help contestants apply cosmetics. It was the first time that make-up specialists abroad to come to mainland. The corruption entering China via British occupied Hong Kong, something that continues til this day. Nothing helps violate women’s rights like British influence via Hong Kong, and reverse all the progress made by Chairman Mao.

That sounds as if sex is being used as a political weapon. Sure enough:

The story of the recent purge of a minor official in China, who became infamous after a sex video in which he was involved surfaced online, has shed light on the usually secret machinations of minor Party officials and shady developers, and shows how corrupt cadres are punished when the political winds shift.

Lei Zhengfu, former Party secretary of the Beibei District of Chongqing, a municipality in the southwest, was by all accounts a bit player in Chinese politics. He was sacked on Nov. 23 after a sexually explicit video with him in it emerged online.

The move appears to be part of a house-cleaning operation by the new Party boss in town, ridding the city of some of the remnants of the era when Bo Xilai and his deputy Wang Lijun effectively ran Chongqing through a combination of heavy-handed neo-Maoist propaganda and brute force. Bo Xilai is a former member of the Politburo who is now in custody, and whose wife was sentenced to prison earlier this year for the murder of a Briton.

And that was just the start:

An independent investigative reporter sought help from police on Sunday after he received threats for his exposure of a video featuring a senior Chongqing official having sex with a young woman.

Zhu Ruifeng, a reporter with counter-corruption website jdwsy.com, told the Global Times Sunday that five more sex videos featuring other Chongqing officials, some of whom still hold important positions with the government, will be released once he has obtained enough proof of their authenticity.

He said all the videos were provided by Chongqing police.

It’s already well known that a nasty political struggle is underway between the neo-Maoists and the Moderns, for want of a better word. The disgraced Bo Xilai was part of the former group. The recent anti-Japanese demonstrations and riots in China seem to have been one aspect of that struggle in disguise.

And now the ideological battle appears to be moving to the bedroom. That should be entertaining for people outside the country, if nothing else.

Where that will lead is anyone’s guess. But if people can write in all seriousness that the first Chinese beauty pageant with Hong Kong cosmeticians violates women’s rights and will reverse the progress made by Chairman Mao, at least one thing is certain:

It won’t be long before the Western media starts referring to the neo-Maoists as “right-wing”.

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One Response to “Sex in today’s China”

  1. Robert said

    I must protest at the excessive number of roses.

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