Man and two women

Most unmarried adults still live with their parents and sexual encounters usually take place in rented apartments or when parents are at work. For one-night stands and affairs couples with enough money check into love hotels

In a survey in the 1990s, only 60 percent of the respondents said they were "often or sometimes" naked during sex, "In a society were 120 million Chinese live without electricity, even in winter," wrote Patrick Tyler of the New York Times, "the removal of clothes and foreplay does not seem to be a critical issue."

In a regular column on sex in the popular Southern Weekend newspaper the question was asked: "What do women need from sex?" The answer was a "high tide," or orgasm. According to a survey women reached high tide 40 percent of the time, but one sixth of the women questioned had never experienced it. "Husbands should understand women's feelings about sex," the article said. "Sexual high tide not only benefits women's health, but also benefits women's spirit." [Source: Patrick Tyler, the New York Times, November 26, 1994]

Students say that the age in which young people first have sex is getting lower and lower. A 26-year-old student in Shenzhen told Newsweek, "Sex is really casual these days. People have lots of boyfriends, but they don’t know what love is." The owner of a Beijing sex shop told the New York Times, "People used to think that once they had their kid, that was it, sex was over. But people’s attitudes toward sex have changed dramatically."

Websites and Sources: USA Today piece ; Sex Incidents in China ; Sex Industry ; Chinese sex toy maker lacyshaki.en ; Books: “Sexual Life of Ancient China”, written by Robert van Gulik in the 1920s; “The Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Sex History” by Professor Liu Dalin and “Sex China Studies in Sexology in Chinese Culture” by Fang-ju Juan, The Sexology Research Institute of China is at People's University in Beijing. Sex History and Literature Ancient Sex Culture ; Chinese Sex Literature ; Sex in Ancient China Book Review Prostitution in China : Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Shanghaiist blog ; Homosexuality in China History of Gay life in China

Momo App and Casual Sex in China

Momo is an app created in 2011. It is free to download and uses location to connect users through one-to-one or group chats. According to The Guardian: It offers various services such as online gaming and local interest forums. But its reputation, much like that of Tinder, is for facilitating one-night stands. In August 2012, it had 10 million users. By February 2014 it had 100 million. [Source: Nicola Davison, The Guardian, June 12, 2014]

Nicola Davison wrote in The Guardian: “When Chen Xiaozhe downloaded the smartphone application Momo, his intentions were clear. "My principal motive was to try to have sex with a wide variety of girls," said Chen, 27, who runs an online shop. To attract potential dates, Chen updates his profile with photos of his BMW or selfies in posh restaurants. It is easier to meet women online, according to Chen, because in person they tend to be shy, if money-oriented. "If I can manage to satisfy their material desires, generally they are willing to sleep with me," he said.[Source: Nicola Davison, The Guardian, June 12, 2014]

Marital Sex in China

A surprising 91 percent of the 8,000 married couples interviewed by Dalin Liu (1992) in cities and rural areas expressed satisfaction with their spouse. However, when Dalin looked deeper, he found that the average Chinese couple has intercourse four to seven times a month, with peasants invariably reporting 25 percent more sex than city couples. However, 34.1 percent of the rural couples and 17.2 percent of city couples admit to less than one minute of foreplay or none at all. Consequently, 44.7 percent of urban wives and 37 percent of rural wives experience pain during intercourse. Only 16.8 percent of rural couples kiss or embrace apart from lovemaking. (See also Section 14D for data on marital sex and satisfaction among married couples in the 1992 nationwide survey.) [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]

Marital dissatisfaction is very common in China today. Some estimate that as many as 60 percent of the Chinese are unhappy with their marriages. A survey of 3,000 young people in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, showed that only 20 percent of respondents were satisfied with their marriage. In a survey of 600 couples, all residents of big cities, 70 percent said they were unhappy with their sex lives. A random survey of married couples in Shanghai found that 45 percent were unhappy with their sexual relationships. A survey of 6,000 divorce cases in five large cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou (Canton), Wuhan, and Xi’an, by ten newspapers showed that 72 percent of divorces are caused by disharmony of sexual life. =

1989-1990 Chinese Sex Survey Results: Married Couples

Findings of the 1989-1990 Chinese Sex Survey in regard to married couples: Contemporary Chinese society is undergoing rapid change. Many obsolete ideas have been rejected, but not all. Our survey shows many of these contradictions: A) Many women and men want to marry for love, but often have only the vaguest concept of love, i.e., they do not know what exactly love is and is not. B) Many claim satisfaction with their marital sex lives, but are not satisfied with many of its details. C) Many are interested in knowing more about sex and are openminded about it, but take no initiative to look for information. [Source: Archive for Sexology, D. Liu, M.L. Ng, L. P. Zhou and E. J. Haeberle,, Sexual Behavior in Modern China: Report on the Nation-wide Survey of 20,000 Men and Women, conducted in 1989 and 1990, New York: Continuum 1997]

D) The status of women has improved, but few are concerned with the quality of their sex lives, including the women themselves. E) Many have some sexual knowledge, but it is often fragmentary and not comprehensive enough. F) Many try various ways of enhancing sexual pleasure (e.g., different sexual techniques and positions), but they only do so secretly, and there is no open agreement that it is al1 right. G) Many understand the importance of family planning for the nation, but many still practice contraception reluctantly, or deliberately avoiding it. H) There is a general open-mindedness about divorce and extramarital sex, but not necessarily when it comes down to one's personal life. I) There is an increase in premarital and extramarital sex, but there is a great deal of controversy concerning its meaning. J) The problem of sex in the aged has been identified but not yet given its due attention.

These and many similar matters have to be dealt with in the future sex civilization of China. In order to find solutions, one wil1 have to improve the people's quality of life, and this is inseparable from an improvement in economic circumstances.

The usual idea about Chinese families is that they are very stable and this is believed to be an asset in Chinese society. Our survey, however, raises the point that it is not always enough to be satisfied with outward stability. We must look at the basic reason for the stability. It is obvious that marriage and family as examined and described by us are of high stability but low quality. For example, outward satisfaction often hides underlying frustration. Therefore, one may ask whether outward stability is, in fact, hiding inward instability? It is important to identify these problems and to solve them.

  1. To improve the quality of marital sex, it is important to help people to have a proper attitude toward sex. Previously, sex was considered "dirty" by many people, but now we encounter many different attitudes. It may be appropriate today to emphasize the pleasure function of sex and to put it in a social perspective.

  2. To enhance the quality of sex for married couples, it may be necessary to emphasize the role of affection and love in marriage. Our survey shows that there are still many married couples who consider sex as nothing more than a duty or a means of producing offspring. This is likely to make sex monotonous, lowering the quality of the marriage.

  3. There are still moral controversies about some sexual issues, such as masturbation, premarital and extramarital sex, divorce, and chastity. It is quite impossible to find one universal morality governing such matters. Sex education should probably teach the moral principle that any behavior is permissible as long as it is harmless to others and takes place by mutual consent.

  4. There is a need for adult sex education. It should emphasize the importance of and difference between affection and moral duties, rights, and responsibilities. To maintain a happy and enduring marital relationship, it is not effective to depend only on the force of morality and the law, because they can, at best, maintain only a superficial stability. Teachings about mutual respect and love, on the other hand, will strengthen the foundations of a stable and happy marriage.

  5. A greater emphasis should be placed on the sexual needs of women and the aged. Our survey shows that women remain largely under the influence of traditional concepts and are therefore more removed from factual sexual knowledge and flexible sexual attitudes. The sex life of the elderly is also largely neglected by most people.

Sex Among Urban Married Couples in China

According to data from the “1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China,” a typical urban married couple in the survey were about 36 to 37 years of age and of above-average education compared with the general national population. They reported their health status as average or above average. The husband was a professional, technical, office, or managerial worker, and had received slightly more education than his wife, being twice as likely to have attended a post-secondary institute. The wife was a professional, technical, factory, or office worker. They have been married for about eleven years. They married of their own will, after an introduction by a third person and a period of courtship. [Source: “1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China: A Report of the Nationwide “Sex Civilization” Survey on 20,000 Subjects in China: by M.P. Lau’, Continuum (New York) in 1997, Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review (1995, volume 32, pp. 137-156), Encyclopedia of Sexuality ++]

They consider mutual “love” and “understanding” more important in marriage than material comfort, political views, or evaluation by society. They believe that the purpose of marital sex is primarily to satisfy emotional and physical needs, rather than to fulfill an obligation or a “tradition” or to achieve reproduction, and there should be no prudery about it. They have sexual intercourse four to five times per month on average. The couple would like to have children because the latter “would add interest to life” and it is an aspect of “social responsibility.” They would like to have a boy and a girl. ++

Of urban couples surveyed, 60 percent considered their marriage satisfactory, with greater satisfaction reported by the male partner, those with more education, those in professional, technical, or managerial positions, and those in the earlier years of marriage. Of those surveyed, 55.5 percent indicated good or fair (25.3 percent) levels of sexual satisfaction. Husbands reported greater enjoyment of coitus and gave more importance to coital frequency, styles of intercourse, and climaxes. The duration of foreplay tended to be brief, most often less than ten minutes, and gave less pleasure to the woman. In case of sexual disharmony, 44 percent felt there should be open discussion, 13.4 percent would seek medical help, and 24 percent would just “leave it” alone. Most couples endorsed women taking initiative in sex, such an attitude being especially common among males, the better educated, and in the southern cities. As urban married women gain more freedom, independence, and self-esteem, they feel less compelled to have sex against their will, and would ask to be excused without feeling guilty. ++

Most couples experienced their first sexual intercourse on their wedding night, but prenuptial sex was admitted by 24.9 percent of urban husbands and 15.8 percent of urban wives. It should be noted that premarital coitus was most often (80 percent) consummated with a “future spouse,” and such behavior was endorsed by a majority (90 percent) of the urban couples polled. Sex before matrimony with someone who is not a “future spouse” tended to occur among urban youths in southern China, soldiers stationed in cities, and the less educated. (The number of abortions of premarital pregnancies has been on the rise, reaching 16 percent of those age 20 and over and single in a city in Jiangsu, and 90 percent of first abortions in a city in Zhejiang, both cities in the vicinity of Shanghai.) ++

Higher frequency of intercourse was associated with younger age, the earlier years in marriage, highest or lowest levels of education, being a manual or service worker, more privacy of the bedroom, temperate climate, and greater sense of obligation to perform. Sexual intercourse occurs most often just before sleep among younger and middle-aged couples, and at “no fixed time” among the young and the elderly. In terms of sexual practices, 56.5 percent of couples change positions during sex, and 65.2 percent are nude sometimes or often during sex; nudity during sex is more frequent among the young, the better educated, and in the southern cities. ++

Questions about orgasms were not asked as the investigators had found it quite difficult to elicit such information, but enjoyment of “sexual pleasure” was found to depend on the techniques, experience, and relationship; sexual pleasure had a more gradual onset in women, both physiologically and psychologically. Most couples reported they experienced Sexual pleasure frequently (especially males) or sometimes (especially females), with highest rates in southern China. In a sampling of 1,279 men and women in 41 cities, Suiming Pan found men reach orgasm 7.2 times out of every 10 attempots; this contrasts with 4.1 times for women. In Dalin Liu’s survey, one third of the urban women and one fourth of the rural women claimed to experience a feeling of pleasure (kuaigan) “very often,” while 58.2 and 76.8 percent, respectively, experienced it “sometimes.” ++

Sexual knowledge was generally quite limited and resource material not readily available, especially to women. About two thirds (62.4 percent) of urban couples had read one of the four popular basic manuals on sexual knowledge available at the time of the survey, such as the one written for the newly wed, which mostly consider anatomy and physiology. Additional sexual knowledge was obtained from books, movies, and radio (35.6 percent), through personal experience (22.7 percent), and from same-sex peers or those in counseling positions. Most couples (70.4 percent) are interested in reading or viewing media with sexual themes, but 48.9 percent have found opportunities lacking. Women would like to know more about child education and physical hygiene, while men are interested in sexual techniques and interpersonal skills. Although 61.8 percent of urban couples would explain the birth process to a child, 25.4 percent would evade the question, and the rest would express displeasure or indifference, or give a false answer. ++

The composite portraits of an urban couple was based on 6,210 married persons surveyed in fifteen cities (nine coastal and six inland urban centers), and a rural couple typical of 1,392 married residents surveyed in three villages. A mixture of random and non-random sampling methods was used, steering a fine line between what was practical (e.g., considering the difficulties of gathering data from illiterate or unsophisticated persons) and what would be theoretically desirable (e.g., relative representativeness). A total of 396 tables of actuarial data were compiled, covering a wide range of sexual, marital, and family variables. There was a preponderance of female interviewers and interviewees. Many volunteer field workers came from women’s groups, such as labor unions, family planning units, and obstetrical teams, and they were able to build good rapport with women respondents, who often appeared eager to share their intimate knowledge of family life with those whom they could trust. Overall, 68. 1 percent of urban and 78.2 percent of rural interviewees were female. ++

Sex Among Rural Married Couples in China

The typical rural married couple surveyed were about 35 years old, of average education compared with the general national population, and reported their health status as average or above average. They were engaged in farming, herding, fishing, or forestry, and were unlikely to have received post-secondary education. They have been married for about 11 years; he at age 23 and she at 22. They married of their own will (wholly or partly), although match-making was prevalent until one or two generations ago, and still occurred in a few locales.[Source: “1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China: A Report of the Nationwide “Sex Civilization” Survey on 20,000 Subjects in China: by M.P. Lau’, Continuum (New York) in 1997, Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review (1995, volume 32, pp. 137-156), Encyclopedia of Sexuality ++]

They consider “love” and “understanding” more important in their union than the opinions of society. They believe that the main aims of marital sex are to fulfill physical and emotional needs, to go along with tradition, and to accomplish reproduction, and that they need not be prudish about it. They have sexual intercourse five to six times per month on average. They would like to have children, mostly for the sake of old age security, but also to propagate their lineage. Of rural couples surveyed, 65 percent regard their marriage as satisfactory. Greater satisfaction was reported by the female partner, those better educated, and those under 25 or over 45 years of age. In case of sexual disharmony, 44 percent would engage in open discussion, 23.2 percent would seek medical help, and 21 percent would just “leave it” alone. ++

Most married rural couples experienced sexual intercourse for the first time on the wedding night, but premarital sex was admitted by 7.3 percent of rural husbands and 17.3 percent of rural wives. Premarital coitus was usually performed with a future spouse, and such behavior was endorsed by the vast majority of rural couples surveyed. Sex before marriage with someone who was not a future spouse occurred more commonly among older males and females when the feudal system allowed sexual permissiveness in certain forms of social transactions, and also among those who are younger, more educated, and liberal minded. ++

Higher frequency of intercourse was associated with more demand by the husband and greater compliance by the wife, having been married for a longer duration, and temperate climate. Sexual coitus occurred most often just before sleep, but also often “at no fixed time,” as rural couples tended to have a less structured schedule of daily life compared with their urban counterparts. About half (45 percent) of rural couples reported changing position during sex, and 57.2 percent said they were nude sometimes or often during sex; sexual nudity was more common among the young, the less educated, and in southern climates. In Shanxi province, some farmers traditionally sleep naked. ++

Among rural married couples, the level of sexual satisfaction reported was good (66.6 percent) or fair (27.6 percent), with wives more easily satisfied than husbands. The duration of foreplay tended to be brief, usually five minutes or less, but neither partner had high expectations of gratification from it. Most couples endorsed women taking initiative in sex (this attitude was more common among males, the better educated, and in south China), but they would still prefer the male partner to be more active. ++

Sexual knowledge was generally quite deficient, and resources not easily available, although 77.1 percent of rural couples had read one of the four popular basic manuals on sexual knowledge available at the time of the survey. Otherwise, the pattern was similar to that of urban couples. While 47.8 percent of rural couples would explain the birth process to a child, 33.8 percent would evade the question, and the rest would ignore or upbraid the child, or give a false answer. ++

Analysis Sex Among Rural Married Couples in China

An overview of the accounts of urban and rural married couples given in this section shows the emergence of two patterns: (1) respondents who are traditional and conservative in ideology, cautious and guarded towards novel ideas, moralistic and suppressive of self-expression, and less imbued with modern education tend to reside inland and in rural territories, are service or manual workers, and are more commonly female; and (2) respondents who are modernistic and individualistic in orientation, liberal and open in attitude, rational and objective in deliberation, and have been exposed to more contemporary and/or Western ideology tend to reside in urban areas, near sea-coasts or in southern China, are professionals or technical workers, and are more often male. [Source: “1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China: A Report of the Nationwide “Sex Civilization” Survey on 20,000 Subjects in China: by M.P. Lau’, Continuum (New York) in 1997, Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review (1995, volume 32, pp. 137-156), Encyclopedia of Sexuality ++]

Of course, there are many exceptions to these broad generalizations. Those who are not well educated may also be gullible and suggestible, and experience sexual permissiveness as a relic of feudal systems, such as variations of a master-slave relationship, indigenous forms of marital or quasi-marital arrangements or cohabitation, such as concubinage and other forms of polygamy (McGough, 1981). Other situational, subcultural, idiosyncratic, or deviant variations in sexual behavior are noted throughout the book. The investigators also present detailed analyses of factors affecting sexual satisfaction and sexual pleasure as well as data on marital cohesion, domestic conflicts, marital breakdown, and sex in old age. ++

We see in this section a spectrum of variations in sexual behavior corresponding to the different stages of adaptation and change, resistance and retrenchment in response to modern and Western ideologies. There has been a general liberalization of attitudes, which is not yet matched by comparable changes in practice. Keenly aware of the dangers of an abrupt eruption of sexual instinctual drive, and deeply ingrained in a tradition of moderation and communal responsibility, the writers of the book repeatedly urge caution, restraint, and “proper socialization.” While stressing the importance of being knowledgeable and educated, and of individual entitlement and gratification, heavy emphasis is also placed on family harmony, social stability, and the inculcation of moral values by advice and counseling, didactic education, and “propaganda.” An analysis of sexual mores and superego and their possible practical impacts can be found in the books by Ng (1990) and by Wen and colleagues (1990) and in the paper by Ng and Lau (1990). ++

Extramarital Sex in China

Sex between consenting adults is technically not illegal in China, but the police have broad powers to suppress activities that they consider antisocial. Elderly women who staff local “neighborhood committees,” the grassroots eyes and ears of the government, also try to stop activities of which they disapprove. But discreet affairs have a good chance of escaping detection and interference. Means of birth control were not always available to unmarried youths, but women knew they could get an abortion. Extramarital affairs seem to occur much more than generally believed, although they are conducted in such secrecy that little statistical information is available. Perhaps the best evidence of these affairs is divorce rates: about one third of the divorces in Beijing from 1984 to 1985 were caused by extramarital relationships. In the Third Symposium of Family Problems in 1991, an expert said that 40 percent of divorces are caused by extramarital sexual relationships. If these findings are at all typical, then the increasing divorce rate must reflect an increase in the number of extramarital relationships. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]

Among urban husbands, 10.2 percent admitted to a history of extramarital sex. Extramarital sex was more common among service or manual workers, or businessmen, those less than 25 years of age or more than 56, and those espousing a liberal or hedonistic attitude towards life. Urban wives were unlikely to have risked extramarital sex, but it was more likely to occur in middle age. These rates are far below those published in the Kinsey reports (1948; 1953). Nevertheless, the impact of extramarital affairs may be considerable. During divorce proceedings in five cities in China in 1985, the occurrence of extramarital affairs was confessed in two thirds of the cases. =

A survey in Beijing found that members of at least 10 percent of the sample of 600 couples had had extramarital sex. Perhaps most significant is a nationwide survey that 69 percent of the people surveyed did not think extramarital affairs are wrong. In Dalin Liu’s 1992 survey, 69 percent condoned extramarital sexual relations. In Shenzhen, a town bordering Hong Kong, 91.8 percent of divorce cases in 1987 involved a “third person.” [Source: “1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China: A Report of the Nationwide “Sex Civilization” Survey on 20,000 Subjects in China: by M.P. Lau’, Continuum (New York) in 1997, Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review (1995, volume 32, pp. 137-156), Encyclopedia of Sexuality ++]

Among rural husbands, 9.3 percent admitted to a history of extramarital sex; higher rates were found among service or manual workers or businessmen, those under 25 or over 56 years of age, and those who gave evidence of a “pleasure-seeking predisposition” on several attitude measures. Rural wives were unlikely to have experienced extramarital sex. ++

Sex Positions and Oral and Anal Sex in China

Several factors influence both attitudes towards and experience with oral and anal sex. In a 1989 survey with 1,279 respondents in 27 cities, nearly seven out of ten Chinese reported they have had anal sex with heterosexual partners. Professor Pan found that only 6 percent of the 600 heterosexual couples he surveyed in big cities had had anal intercourse at least once. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]

In ancient erotic art and fiction, oral sex, including mutual “69” oral sex, is not unusual. Considering the lack of information about sexual behaviors that prevailed until recently and Dalin Liu’s finding that 34 percent of rural couples and 17 percent of urban couples engaged in less than a minute of foreplay, it is not likely that oral sex is as common as it was in ancient China. No general survey data is available. Many modern Chinese think oral sex is too “dirty.” In 1988, a survey of 140 homosexual males in Shanghai revealed that only nineteen persons, 13.6 percent, said they had had oral sex, and only four persons, 2.8 percent, had experienced anal sex. At a 1990 World Health Organization meeting on the spread of AIDS in China, Pan reported that 7.7 out of 10 Chinese have had anal sex with a heterosexual partner. Little data are available on anal sex among homosexuals because of the taboo character of that population and studies on same-sex behavior (Burton 1990). (Dalin Liu’s Sex Culture in Ancient China provides extensive information about sexual deviance in China.)

Sex positions mentioned in Yuan and Ming- era erotica such as the Chi pozi zhuan “”Biography of a Foolish Woman”), Ruyi Jun zhuan (“The Lord of Perfect Satisfaction”) and the Xiuta yeshi (“An Unofficial History of the Embroidered Couch”) include “The Dragon Turns” (missionary position); “White Tiger Leaps” (woman entered from behind); “Fish Interlock their scales” (woman on top); “Fish Eye to Eye” (side by side); “Approaching the Fragrant Bamboo (both standing); “Jade Girl Playing the Flute” (fellatio); and win Dragons Teasing the Phoenix” (one woman with two men simultaneously). Among others are “Rooster Descends on the Ring”, “Cicada Clings”, “Blue Phoenixes Dance in Pairs” “Monkey Wrestles”, “Rabbit Nibbles the Hair”,“Seagull Hoovers” and “Butterflies Somersault”.

Masturbation in China

Self-pleasuring is still condemned by most of the Chinese people, included even some sex educators and sex researchers. It was widely said that frequent self-pleasuring will cause neuroses, sexual dysfunctions, and even severe diseases. Although in 1985, the author pointed out in his popular article “On Masturbation” and in his Handbook of Sex Knowledge that self-pleasuring is normal sexual behavior, neither harmful nor sinful, it will take time for people to accept this updated viewpoint on self-pleasuring. According to A Report of the Nationwide “Sex Civilization “Survey on 20,000 Subjects in China (1992), only 39.0 percent of students of colleges and universities said that they engaged in self-pleasuring, male students (59.0 percent) much higher than female students (16.5 percent). But Dr. Lee’s survey in 1989 in Shanghai showed that 93.1 percent of male students of colleges and universities said that they engaged in this behavior. In the “Sex Civilization” Survey, 15.9 percent of married couples said that they engaged in self-pleasuring. (See also Sections 14B, 14C, and 14D for data on masturbation among adolescents, college students, and married couples in the 1992 nationwide survey by Dalin Liu.) [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]

A history of masturbation was obtained from 17.1 percent of respondents - much more often from husbands than from wives, and from couples in southern cities - but nearly all of the respondents claimed it happened only occasionally. While 41.7 percent regarded masturbation as a “bad habit” and 13.1 percent considered it normal, fully 30 percent gave no clear answer. Only 0.5 percent admitted homosexual experience, but considerable denial or ignorance was suspected. A history of masturbation was obtained from 10.1 percent of rural husbands or wives, more often from those in the South; nearly all described it as episodic. Most (73.4 percent) considered masturbation a “bad habit,” but 9.6 percent deemed it “natural.” Only 2.3 percent admitted homosexual experiences, suggesting considerable ignorance about the term.[Source: “1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China: A Report of the Nationwide “Sex Civilization” Survey on 20,000 Subjects in China: by M.P. Lau’, Continuum (New York) in 1997, Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review (1995, volume 32, pp. 137-156), Encyclopedia of Sexuality ++]

Masturbation is informally called “shou yin” in Chinese. Its literal English translation is hand dirty/lewd, with a negative connotation that strongly disapproves of the behavior. It had been frowned upon in China for centuries as traditional Chinese medicine believes masturbation is very harmful to men’s health whereas female masturbation carried great social stigma. Even today, many web discussions and posts are devoted to discouraging masturbation. A photo collage of screen grabs of a popular post is one example. [Source: Ministry of Tofu, June 5, 2013]

A recent video interview of more than 50 college students on their masturbation and porn-viewing habits has become an online hit on Chinese social media sites. The project is launched by a study group called ‘Research on Masturbation’ from Guangzhou-based Zhongshan University. The study group, headed by sexology professor Pei Yuxin at the university, aims at dissemination information and knowledge about healthy sex. See Ministry of Tofu Research on Masturbation

Imprisoned Chinese Swinger: a 53-Year-Old Computer Science Professor

In 2010, a court in Nanjing, eastern China, sentenced Ma Xiaohai, a 53-year-old computer science professor, to three and a half years in prison for organizing a wife-swapping club and orgies. Ma refused to plead guilty after being charged under the group licentiousness law. Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times: “In public, he was a twice — divorced computer science professor dedicated to his students and to caring for an elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. In private, the professor, Ma Yaohai, 53, led a life that became intolerable to Chinese authorities: for the past six years, he was a member of informal swingers clubs that practiced group sex and partner swapping. In online chat rooms, his handle was Roaring Virile Fire. He organized and engaged in at least 18 orgies, most of them in the two-bedroom apartment in Nanjing where he lived with his mother, according to prosecutors. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, May 20, 2010]

Mr. Ma’s three and a half years sentence is a severe penalty for a crime that the Chinese government calls “crowd licentiousness.” Mr. Ma, now China’s most famous swinger, remains defiant and plans to appeal, saying his sex life is his own business, not subject to the law as long as he causes no social disturbance, according to his lawyer, Yao Yong’an. “Privacy needs to be protected,” Mr. Yao said in an interview.

The case of Mr. Ma, who was arrested in August 2009 and went on trial in April 2010 has drawn attention across China not only for its titillating details, but also because it raises questions about an authoritarian government’s attempts to curb sexual freedom and limit privacy in a society where rapid economic growth and the ubiquity of the Internet have upended traditional values.

In an interview with Chinese reporters after his arrest, Mr. Ma, a slim man with an angular face and black-rimmed glasses, defended his lifestyle. “Marriage is like water,” he said. “You have to drink it. Swinging is like wine. Some people feel it’s delicious the first time they try it, so they keep drinking. Some people try it and think it tastes bad, so they never drink it again. It’s completely voluntary. No one is forcing you.”

In earlier interviews with Chinese reporters, Mr. Ma told the tale of how he joined the swinging subculture. After two divorces, Mr. Ma began trying to meet women through the Internet. He traded messages with a 23-year-old woman with the online name Passionate Fiery Phoenix. She later arrived in Nanjing and told Mr. Ma that she was traveling the country looking for other swingers. The two moved in together. On New Year’s Day in 2004, they tried their first swinging experience as a pair with a couple in a small town in Jiangsu Province. The four played strip poker, then tried switching partners. But Mr. Ma suffered a bout of impotence. “When it really came down to it, I was just so nervous,” he told a reporter.

Eventually, though, he got over his anxieties. In 2007, he started an Internet chat room called “Independent Travel for Husbands, Wives and Lovers.” In online chats, people call him Teacher Ma. Membership has grown to more than 200. Mr. Ma told reporters that the largest sex grouping in which he had taken part involved four couples.

The police arrested Mr. Ma after they raided a hotel room in Nanjing last August and detained five people on suspicion of partner swapping. The detainees handed the officers a long list of names of other swingers that included Mr. Ma’s. Officials eventually charged 22 people with 35 acts of crowd licentiousness between 2007 and 2009, 18 of which Mr. Ma had organized or engaged in, they said. Mr. Ma was the only defendant who refused to plead guilty.

The Associated Press reported that at the start of the two-day trial on April 7, Mr. Ma blurted out: “How can I disturb social order? What happens in my house is a private matter.” Mr. Ma has resigned his teaching job at the Nanjing University of Technology and says he now lives off his savings and his mother’s pension.”Work will definitely be difficult to find,” he said in an earlier interview with a Chinese reporter. “Maybe I can become a commercial spokesman for adult toys.”

Image Sources: 1)Sex products,; 2) Sexy poster, University of Washington; 3) ox peninses, BBC; 4) Old sex art All Posters. com, Search Chinese Art .

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated October 2021

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