20080226-sex in Chengdu preramrai.jpg
Sexy poster on the
streets of Chengdu

Chinese are still pretty conservative when it comes to sex. Virginity is still valued and many people wait until they are married to do it for the first time. China does not have Playboy and Penthouse magazines and the so-called pornography found at video shops is usually fairly tame. China is not like Japan, where men can purchase used schoolgirl panties in vending machines, street corner prostitutes dress up in bunny suits and teenagers join S-and-M telephone chat lines. Testicles in Chinese are called “little brothers.”

But China is not totally puritanical. More and more young people are having sex, often in love hotels. Condoms are sold in movie theater rest rooms, sexual accessory shops are fairly common and street hawkers sell penis rings guaranteed to heighten the pleasure of their partners. In factory towns in southern China there are strip shows put together for the factory workers. The owner of the Shanghai Sex Museum told the New York Times, "Chinese have always been careful about hiding their private life. You can't see it from the outside, but inside it is very active."

According to The Guardian: “China's rapid modernisation has given rise to a young generation whose attitudes towards sex and relationships are starkly different from that of their parents and grandparents. Premarital sex is now common, but puritanical attitudes endure. [Source: Nicola Davison, The Guardian, June 12, 2014]

Things are opening up fast. One Chinese sexologist estimated that 60 to 70 percent of young people have sex before marriage. In the 1980s, the figure was 16 percent. A survey of urban couples found that 90 percent of them had sex before marriage. A survey by the Beijing Evening News in 2006 found that 90 percent of university students feel that sex before marriage is okay.

Benjamin Morgan of AFP wrote in 2003: "Since the start of China's market reforms in the late 1970s, brothels masquerading as bars, hair salons and saunas have jostled for customers alongside Karaoke lounges and techno-pumping clubs that are the common haunts of 20-somethings looking to hook up. Ironically, it was communism that provided much of the impetus for China's still nascent sexual revolution, says James Farrer of Sophia University in Tokyo and author of the book "Opening Up: Youth Sex Culture and Market Reform in Shanghai." While Farrer says market economics and foreign influence has played a major role in relaxing China's strictly codified sexual morays, gender equality invoked by the party helped pave the way to greater sexual freedom, especially for women. [Source: Benjamin Morgan, AFP, October 13, 2003]

There are some differences in sexual lifestyles among the different ethnic groups in China. For example, among Tibetan ethnics, plural marriages including polygyny and polyandry exist beside monogamous marriages. In some Tibetan families, brothers may share one woman as a common wife. There is also great variety in the way one religious factor impacts on the sexual attitudes in different ethnic groups. For example, Islam takes on slightly different expressions among its many followers in ten of China’s minority nationalities: Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Tatar, Kirgiz, Tajik, Dongxiang, Salar, and Bonan.

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

China’s Sexual Revolution

Sarah Buckley of the BBC wrote: In the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, Chinese attitudes to sex have undergone a revolution — a process carefully observed, and sometimes encouraged, by the country's first female sexologist, Li Yinhe."In the survey I made in 1989, 15.5 percent of people had sex before marriage, " says Li Yinhe. "But in the survey I did two years ago, the figure went up to 71 percent." It's one of many rapid changes she has recorded in her career. She uses the word "revolution" herself and it's easy to see why. Until 1997, sex before marriage was actually illegal and could be prosecuted as "hooliganism". [Source: Sarah Buckley, BBC News, February 27, 2016]

“It's a similar story with pornography, prostitution and swingers' parties. In 1996 the owner of a bathhouse was sentenced to death for organising prostitution, Li said in a lecture to the Brookings Institution last year, but now it is widely practised. The most severe punishment these days, according to Li, would be the closure of the business. Publishers of pornography could also be sentenced to death as recently as the 1980s, as could those who organised sex parties. Now the punishment for pornography is less draconian and swingers' parties, while still illegal, are common. "No-one reports them, so they do not get noticed, " Li says.

“One of the main impulses driving the change in attitudes to sex, according to Li, was the Communist Party's one-child policy, which was enforced from 1979 to 2015. "The one-child policy allows people to have one or two kids only. So unless you give up sex afterwards you are changing your purpose of having sex. Having sex for pleasure gets justified too, " she says. "People are going through a revolutionary change in their mind and behaviour and my research is at the forefront of the struggle. "When I gave a lecture in Tianjin, over 1,000 people attended it... I think the desire suppressed in people's hearts has bounced out."

Today in China, many cities have sex shops, sex-advice call-in shows, sex clinics and newspaper advertisements for condoms and Viagra. Discos in Shanghai plays songs that praise oral sex; shops in the Beijing airport sell love oils, vibrators and specialty condoms; newspapers runs headlines such as ORGASM: DIFFERENT TYPES; and waitresses and chambermaids working at four-star hotels offer guests special massages with "extra service." The China Youth Daily has run an article about sex toys; the People’s Daily has featured stories about ancient sex; and the state agency new service Xinhua runs photos of scantily clad women on its website. One shot shows a foreign swimsuit model in only a bikini bottom. The foreign press is even more racy. The Chinese version of the man’s magazine FHM runs stories like “I Want an Orgasm, Not Romance.”

Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times: “Brothels — often thinly disguised as hair salons or massage parlors — and shops selling sex toys proliferate across cities and even in many villages, and premarital sex is common among young couples. Tens of thousands of Chinese engage in swinging (or partner swapping, which is a more direct translation of the relevant Chinese term), according to Li Yinhe, China’s most prominent sexologist. One Web site, Happy Village, has a chat forum openly dedicated to swinging. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, May 20, 2010]

Virginity is less of a prerequisite for marriage than it once was. About half the abortions in China these days are performed on unwed women. In one Chinese sex survey, nearly 75 percent of the respondents said that sex was necessary for both emotional and physical health. Analysis of 100,000 callers to a Shanghai information radio line found that "sex" and "banking" were the two most asked about topics. "The majority of Chinese have experienced a great change in their attitudes toward sex in the last 10 years," a sex researcher told the New York Times," Feudal ideas still exist, but they are getting less and less influential."

Sex Surveys in China

According to sex survey by SSL International PLC, makers of Durex brand condoms, involving people in 28 countries, the Chinese are the forth least sexually active people, on average having sex only 72 times a year, compared to the world average of 97 times a year.

A United Nations-funded survey of 22,288 Chinese aged 15-24 by the Peking University Population Research Institute in 2009 found that two-thirds were accepting of premarital sex but that most "had very limited levels of sexual reproductive health knowledge." The survey found 22 per cent had had sex before; of those, more than 50 per cent used no contraception during their first sexual encounter.

According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality, published in the early 1990s, Professor Dalin Liu’s survey showed that 34 percent of rural couples and 17 percent of urban couples said they engaged in less than a minute of foreplay, sometimes none at all. Not surprisingly, 37 percent of rural wives described intercourse as painful. While urban couples may be more adventurous sexually, they are not necessarily more satisfied. Professor Suiming Pan, head of the Institute for Research in Sexuality and Gender at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, did a sample of 600 couples were all residents of big cities, and 70 percent of them said they were unhappy with their sex lives, and a random survey of married couples living in Shanghai found that 45 percent were unhappy with their sexual relationships. According to Professor Kang Jin, president of the Shanghai Committee of Rehabilitation of Male Dysfunctions, in 1989 at least 20 percent of China’s adult male population was suffering from some type of sexual dysfunction. Clinics of sexual counseling, sex therapy, or Western and/or traditional Chinese sexual medicines have been established in most big cities. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D.Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]

On the global importance of the study, Timothy Perper, PH.D. wrote: “Because the People’s Republic of China is one of the most populous nations, decisions made by its people and by its government about sexuality directly affect its population growth and therefore have global importance. Since the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, China has undergone immense and sometimes profoundly convulsive changes. From the 1949 revolution onward, China’s government has increasingly become deeply involved in the reproductive decision making of its citizens. Those who study sexuality and understand its implications for world population growth must surely hope that China’s own scholars, and others who know its rich history, many languages, and varied cultures, will continue and expand their studies of sexuality in China. Because China is both a crucible and a harbinger of the future, these studies will be invaluable for documenting how decisions made by the Chinese people and government will inevitably affect the future of everyone on the earth. [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 ++]

During her first survey in 1989, Chinese professor Li Yinhe,15 percent of the 2,500 young people in Beijing she interviewed reported having premarital sex, and most of the outliers were already engaged and simply waiting for the bureaucracy to produce a marriage license. In a nationwide follow-up study with 4,000 subjects done in 2013, that figure had increased to more than 70 percent. “The changes have been revolutionary,” she said.[Source: Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, March 6, 2015]

According to the “International Encyclopedia of Sexuality”In 1996, Suiming Pan analyzed 11 social surveys on sexuality in Chinese cities between 1986 and 1995 and reinterviewed 103 men and 73 women. The ten factors listed be low, which Pan (1996) identified as affecting sexological research and studies in China, also reveal some important in sights into the general concepts of love and sexuality that prevail in Chinese culture. [Source: Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M. P. Lau, M.D., International Encyclopedia of Sexuality, edited by Robert T. Francoeur, Ph.d., and Raymond J. Noonan, PhD., Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004, online at the Kinsey Institute \^/]

“1) For most people, the Chinese sexual vocabulary is either cryptic or considered dirty and abusive. 2) The more familiar with each other people are, the more difficult it is to talk about sex. 3) There is often a sexual undertone to the interaction between heterosexual interviewers and interviewees. 4) Many tragic or socially illegitimate sexual matters would rather be forgotten than discussed with the interviewees. 5) Female interviewers are often considered “badwomen.” 6) Chinese people view pornography, sex workers, and nonmarital sex as illegal. 7) ordinary people do not understand why researchers study sexuality. 8) Most ordinary people are unable to evaluate and express their own sexual feelings, or even their behavior. 9) Most females feel like vomiting when questioned about sexual matters. 10) Ordinary people think that if you ask a question about a kind of sexual behavior or relationship, then it means that you really like it yourself. The first nine of these ten points reflect ignorance, stigma, and inhibition, with only the last point expressing a common view point frequently encountered in other countries.\^/

Results of 2020 Sex Survey of Chinese College Students

In 2020, the China Family Planning Association, Tsinghua University’s Research Center for Public Health, and China Youth Network conducted a sex survey involved 54,580 students from 1,764 universities nationwide. Zhang Wanqing wrote in Sixth Tone: A majority of the students in the survey identified as heterosexual, while 4.5 percent and 9 percent said they were gay and bisexual, respectively. More than 6 percent said they were unsure of their sexual orientation. More female students said they were unsatisfied in their relationships compared with their male counterparts. However, the report suggested that male students were more likely to suffer emotionally after breakups. Some 73 percent of the student respondents said they would only marry “the right one,” suggesting a reluctance to wed compared with previous generations, and shedding light on the country’s declining marriage rate.[Source: Zhang Wanqing, Sixth Tone, May 15, 2020]

“Over 31 percent of university students said they experienced penetrative sex, with their first such experience occurring at age 18 or 19. On average, female students said they had had 2.3 sexual partners, while men reported 3.7. Among those who had had sex in the past year, less than 20 percent said they were sexually active every week. Over 56 percent of female students said they had never masturbated, compared with 13 percent of men. More than 30 percent of women said they had never experienced an orgasm, or didn’t know what one was. A majority of women opposed one-night stands and casual hookups. According to the survey, 3.6 percent of respondents said they had had sex with a teacher.

“The survey reveals that attitudes toward sex are gendered: 83.8 percent of male students said they would “have sex in a hotel room or live with their partner,” compared with 60.9 percent of women. In addition, only 55 percent of female students said they were willing to have sex before marriage, while 75 percent of men were okay with it.

1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China

M.P. Lau did a detailed analysis of the original 1989-1990 Chinese version of the nationwide Kinsey-like survey of Sexual Behavior in China — “1989-1990 Survey of Sexual Behavior in Modern China: A Report of the Nationwide “Sex Civilization” Survey on 20,000 Subjects in China”. This survey was published in Chinese in 1992; an English translation was published by Continuum (New York) in 1997. Lau’s review-essay was published in Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review (1995). The survey of sexual behavior in the People’s Republic of China was conducted from 1989 to 1990. Unprecedented in scope and scale, the survey involved twenty-eight sites (cities, towns, and villages) in fifteen of the twenty-seven provinces or autonomous regions. A total of 21,500 questionnaires, with 239 items covering a wide range of variables were distributed, and 19,559 of the returned replies were found suitable for study. About five hundred investigators were involved, including about two hundred field workers, most of whom were female volunteers. There was a caucus of about forty core leaders, with coordinating headquarters at the Shanghai Sex Sociology Research Center. The main academic leaders were Dalin Liu, Liping Chou, and Peikuan Yao of Shanghai and Minlun Wu (M.L. Ng) of Hong Kong. [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 ++]

This study has been compared to the Kinsey Reports (1948, 1953) in the popular media (Burton, 1990). For the first time in history, it provided extensive scientific data on the sexual behavior of the contemporary Chinese, who comprise 22 percent of the world population. Information is available on puberty, romantic love, mating, marriage, marital life, marital sex, premarital sex, extramarital sex, abortions, divorces, as well as data on family planning, women’s issues, prostitution, pornography, sexual transgressions, and sexual variances, both as to attitudes and behavior. ++

Timothy Perper, PH.D. wrote: “Technically, the nature and scope of this survey made the task very difficult. Sexuality is a matter of privacy and confidentiality and a topic often misunderstood and stigmatized. The peasantry was difficult to reach, in terms of both logistics and communication. There was little financial support, especially after the Tiananmen events. However, there was a ground swell of moral support from both inside and outside China, and many “comrades” from the tightly organized, stratified bureaucratic infrastructure in the nation, especially from women’s groups, contributed their time, energy, and ingenuity, frequently working “to the point of exhaustion.” ++

“The investigators were well aware of the limitations of the study. They experienced numerous stumbling blocks and frustrations, and encountered criticism and derision. It was not possible to obtain a completely representative sample, but a study of selected mainstream or significant groups in accessible locales is still very meaningful. Efforts were made to collect data from diverse parts of China, and a mixture of random and non-random sampling was used. The large sample sizes may allow statistical adjustments for some of the biases in further analysis. ++

“The questionnaires were as comprehensive as circumstances permitted. In the interest of not being too intrusive, many questions were addressed only to attitudes and beliefs, as respondents would feel too hesitant to report actual behavior or practice in some areas. Limitation of time and resources precluded the compilation of an index. Materials on some special topics are scattered throughout the book. For example, data on homosexuality have to be found laboriously from more than ten places, and information on premarital sex must be traced from some eight sources among the pages. ++

“No study of human sexuality can be complete without including a major human culture of the world and its most populous country. The practical import of this study cannot be overemphasized. It should equip the nation with more knowledge to meet the challenges of sexuality both at the individual and at the societal levels. Wary of the perils of a sexual “revolution” with sudden release of pent-up drives, the authors repeatedly stress the importance of an interpersonal perspective and “sociological imperative.” ++

2013 Sex Survey Reveals Chinese Have Active But Flawed Sex Lives

Shan Juan wrote in the China Daily, “Chinese couples are the most sexually active in the Asia-Pacific region, but a large number remain dissatisfied with their sex life, according to a survey endorsed by the International Society of Sexual Medicine. Chinese respondents said they had sex nine times per month on average, compared with an average of 7.7 times across the Asia-Pacific region. However, many identify premature ejaculation and the brevity of intimate sessions among key reasons for dissatisfaction. [Source: Shan Juan, China Daily, September 26, 2013 |::|]

“The 2013 Asia-Pacific Sexual Behaviors and Satisfaction Survey polled more than 3,500 men and women aged 18-45 years old in Australia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. A total of 1,002 people were from mainland China. The study was aimed at “understanding the impact of premature ejaculation has on couples’ relationships and sexual satisfaction.” The survey was conducted between March 18, 2013 and April 2, 2013, used the five-question Premature Ejaculation Diagnostic Tool (PEDT), which is a validated research instrument for diagnosing PE. “The survey aims to spot possible factors impairing sexual satisfaction and help improve the sexual health of the people,” said Chris McMachon, president of the society. “In China, some 52 percent of those polled said they were not satisfied with their sex life, a figure that reflects the general situation across the entire region. Meanwhile, about 96 percent of the Chinese female respondents said they wanted prolonged sexual intercourse, far higher than the average of 63 percent among women in the region. Thirty percent of Chinese men surveyed said they were concerned about their partners’ level of satisfaction with their sexual relationship. The figure for the Asia-Pacific region as a whole was 38 percent. |::|

“While erectile dysfunction was not included in the survey results, 84 percent of concerns raised by respondents related in some way to the issue of PE. According to McMachon, PE involves aspects of length of time, control of ejaculation, and related negative feelings like distress. He said that international studies show that the length of time couples spend making love in each session averages to 5.4 minutes. |::|

“Thirty-two percent of men polled alleged they suffered from PE. Risk factors for PE include genetic predisposition and poor nerve conduction, while mental factors contributed to nearly 20 percent of all PE cases, said McMachon. Regarding socioeconomic factors affecting PE, he said that less educated men were more often affected by the complaint. Jiang Hui, president-elect of the Chinese Society of Andriatrics under the Chinese Medical Association, added that prostate diseases were also a factor. “But that in most cases, PE doesn’t affect pregnancy,” he said. |::|

“The survey showed that only 30 percent of PE sufferers in China sought medical treatment, compared with 55 percent throughout the region. The report revealed various misunderstandings on the issue, with some 20 percent of respondents saying that the same treatment would apply for both ED and premature ejaculation. According to Jiang, the Chinese seldom consider PE to be a medical condition, a fact that contributed to the low rates of treatment. In the andriatrics department where Jiang works, about half of the total cases involve infertility, while some 30 percent involve ED. He says that as public awareness of PE improves, many more men suffering from the condition will seek treatment. However, he pointed out that so far China has no uniform clinical standards for the diagnosis of PE. A combination of drug treatment and physiological counseling works well to improve the situation, according to McMachon. He also urged females to encourage their partners to overcome the condition. “Usually we say that it is the couple, not just the man, who suffers from or fights PE,” he said. |::|

Sexuality, Politics and Love in China

According to the Encyclopedia of Sexuality, “In mainland China today, the only sexual behavior that is acknowledged to be legally and morally permissible is heterosexual intercourse within monogamous marriage. A wide variety of sexual behaviors are explicitly proscribed. Thus, prostitution, polygamy, premarital and extramarital sex (including cohabitation arrangements), homosexuality, and variant sexual behavior are all illegal. Because even normal sexual expression is viewed with contempt as a less important activity of life, not only are pornography and nudity banned, but any social activity with sexual implications - such as dancing - may be subject to restrictions. Even the marriage relationship is given little consideration. For example, according to official statistics, approximately 360,000 married persons live apart from their spouses, and this figure increases at a rate of 100,000 per year. Most of these separations occur because individual citizens are not free to move from one place to another, or to change their places of employment. [Source: Zhonghua Renmin Gonghe Guo, Fang-fu Ruan, M.D., Ph.D., and M.P. Lau, M.D. Encyclopedia of Sexuality =]

Public policy and law related to sexuality seriously and severely impacts individual and social lives. Contemporary China is a noteworthy example of a totalitarian government’s attempt to control or repress the sexual aspects of the individual’s life. It exemplifies, as well, how sexually repressive policies are not actually effective in inhibiting sexual desire in private lives, nor in curbing the struggle for human sexual rights and freedom. =

The major move toward democracy in mainland China after Mao was the “Democracy Wall” movement during 1978 and 1979. During this brief period, the government allowed young people to express their desire for personal freedom and democracy by placing “big character” posters on a wall that came to be known as the “Democracy Wall.” The Democracy Wall was also used for advocating sexual liberation. The author vividly recalls visiting the wall on February 20, 1979, and seeing two poems about sexual rights. One was titled “The Eulogy of Sexual Desire,” the other “Open Sex.” In posters like these, China’s youth first made a courageous stand on the importance of sexual openness to their country’s modernization. =

During the nationwide demonstration by university students in the winter of 1986-87, there were also some posters advocating sexual freedom. While sexual liberation was not a major explicit goal of the 1989 democracy movement, its importance was understood, and its value implicit in one of the loveliest events that occurred then. During the hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, a wedding was held for one of the leaders of the demonstrators. The bride and groom, the maid of honor (the General Commander Chai Ling, now an internationally known heroine of the struggle for democracy), and the best man (Chai’s husband, the Vice General Commander Feng Congde) were all fasting, as were the classmates attending the wedding. Yet all the celebrants were laughing joyously. The wedding was the ideal symbol of the connection between the longing for liberty, and the desire for love, romance, marriage, personal happiness, and fulfillment. =

For most people, the Chinese sexual vocabulary is either cryptic or considered dirty and abusive. The more familiar with each other people are, the more difficult it is to talk about sex. There is often a sexual undertone between heterosexual interviewers and interviewees. Many tragic or socially illegitimate sexual matters would rather be forgotten than discussed with the interviewees. Female interviewers are often considered “bad women.” Pornography, sex workers, and non-marital sex are illegal in the minds of Chinese people. Ordinary people do not understand why researchers study sexuality. Most ordinary people are unable to evaluate and express their own sexual feelings, or even their behavior. Most females feel like vomiting when questioned about sexual matters. Ordinary people think that if you ask a question about a kind of sexual behavior or relationship, then it means that you really like it yourself. =

Liao Yiwu wrote in the NY Review of Books: “A married couple was in the act of making love at home. The husband wanted to prolong their pleasure, and so he thought of shouting “Long live Chairman Mao!” to keep himself in check. He shouted louder and louder, hundreds of times. It worked fine, they went on and on. But the walls had ears, neighbors called the police. The police came running and broke in the door. They were caught in the act, beaten severely, and treated with prison-camp “education” for four years, because of “spreading counter-revolutionary propaganda.” [Source: Liao Yiwu, NY Review of Books, June 3, 2014, Translated by Martin Winter ***]

Sex and Asians

The curator of a sex museum in Seoul told the Los Angeles Times, “A difference between the Eastern and Western views of sexuality is that Asian religion, especially Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, generally view sexuality as a natural element of human expression and religion, yin-and-yang forces and life as a whole, Often in the West, on the other hand, its viewed in a more limited way largely focused on the act itself.” “Koro” is a mental disorder found in Malaysia (with similar disorder found elsewhere in East Asia) characterized by intense anxiety that sexual organs will recede into the body and cause death. There are occasional epidemics of this disorder.

In Asia condoms used to be called "French letters." In 1827, there were reports of condoms made of tortoiseshell and leather being used in Asia. Some Asian men have an operation in which metal balls are placed inside their penises to increase the pleasure of their partners. “The Culture of Love in China and Europe” by Paolo Santangelo and Gábor Boros (Brill 2019) describes “correct sexual union (legitimate conjugal love)" in China "and the role of the elaboration of the art of the bedchamber and all skills of erotic positions. Gender roles in love is evident in narrative and is reflected in the new male hero, in the active heroines, both shrews or benevolent lovers, fox spirits and femme fatale.”

Breast shape and size, nipple color and shape, the form of a woman's labia and buttocks and the angle of man's erection varies somewhat between ethnic groups. Asian women generally have smaller breasts than Western women. Writer Paul Theroux once wrote that the brassier is "probably the most superfluous garment in China." Even so Wonder Bra developed a special product line for slim Asian women. An accountant in Hong Kong told Newsweek, "There's a strong desire to be sexy. People want to marry a good husband, and a push-up bra is part of the package to achieve that goal."

Displays of Affection and Shyness About Sex in China

20080224-Night Reveks Gu Hongzhoung five dynasties u wash.jpg
Night Revels
by Gu Hongzhoung

Public expressions of affection between men and women are frowned upon and couples seldom even hold hands where other people can see them. For a while there was an unwritten rule that couples should walk three feet apart on the streets. Men rarely say to their wives, "I love you? and when given the choice most men prefer to with other men and than with their wives.

Chinese are often more affectionate with members of their own sex than they are with the opposite sex. It is not unusual to see women holding hands or men walking down the street arm and arm. In discos you are often more likely see couples of the same sex dancing together than couples of the opposite sex.

The most casual public displays between the sexes can cause a scandal. In amateur university dramas, female and male students sometimes find playing spouses, boyfriends or girlfriend to be so painfully embarrassing that the roles are played by members of the same sex, who feel much more comfortable holding, stoking and caressing each other than members of the opposite sex do.

Strip tease shows are forbidden, even in brothels. Some showgirls break own in tears when asked to wear sexy costumes. The word sex can not be used in advertising or in the name of a product. Cassettes of sickenly sappy and sentimental Chinese pop music are still confiscated from time to time for being "unhealthy music."

In the mid 1990s, four nude statues on a bridge over the Yangtze River had their private parts covered by scarves. When asked them, one local man said he wanted the statues to remain covered because they might cause him to drive his car into the river.

Some Chinese "are still very shy about sex," the owner of the Adam and Eve Health Care Center sex shop told the New York Times. "With so much shyness, scientific knowledge about sex cannot spread widely."

Kissing and Smooching in China

Many university students and young people in their twenties have never kissed a member of the opposite sex and never even seen their parents kiss. Kissing is regarded as just one step shy of sex. French kissing is seen as some kind of exotic, forbidden experience. In secondary schools there are rules that state that students can not "touch, embrace or kiss."

Because there is little privacy at home and young lovers often can't afford a hotel, couples go to smooch behind trees at public parks, or inside bomb shelters built during the Cultural Revolution "for the coming war." After the discos close young lovers go to special bars and restaurants were they can make out. Couples can sometimes be seen kissing and embracing in public places around breakfast time."

"The Chinese." wrote Theroux, "were so desperate in their courtships that they went on tourist outing in order to hide and canoodle. Every holy mountain and famous pagoda had more than its share of motionless couples hugging and (sometimes) smooching...the Chinese do it standing up, usually behind a rock or a building, and they hug each other very tightly."

Public displays of affection that were unthinkable a generation ago are now common place. In 2009, a shopping mall in China drew a large crowd with a kissing contest on Valentine’s Day.

In the mid 2000s, A woman named Xia Xinfeng killed her lover by passing him a capsule filled wit rat poison during a kiss. She was caught and sentenced to death.

Virginity in China

Making love with a young virgin is highly sought after by some men and many men expect their brides to be virgins. Some are devastated when they find their wives are not on their wedding night. Some women pay $25,000 for an operation to get their hymen sewn up. When asked, many Chinese men in their mid-twenties admit proudly that they are virgins. One man told Theroux in the 1980s, "It seems to be a problem in China. No sex for young people...Even if you meet a girl there is no place to take her. But I don't mind...Its unlawful and against are traditions [to have sex before marriage]."

According to the Global Times: “Many women in China are dumped or divorced after men deflowered them and found no bleeding, which causes many desperate women...Xie to fake their virginities.” This has even true with women who were virgins but who lacked hymens because they were born without one or ruptured it long before any sexual activities, either by accident or through sporting activities. [Source: Lin Meilian, Global Times June 17, 2010]

According to the 2007 Global Sex Report released by Durex, an international condom manufacture, the average age of “first contact” for Chinese people is 22, while the global average age is 17]

Tan Zhonglun, 28, a doctor in Guangdong Province who recently got married, told the Global Times, that even well-educated, open-minded young men in China place a premium on their wife’s virginity. “To be honest, we care. It is not that broken piece of tissue that bothers us, but the fact that other men had touched her before,” he said, admitting that the moment he found out his wife was a virgin, he took her even more seriously.

He said young couples are more likely to accept sex outside marriage, however, for older generation it represents the highest moral standard for a family's reputation. “If future in-laws pop that question, they only want to hear 'yes' from their future daughter-in-law,” he said. “I have to say that despite the modern education we receive, the traditional idea of virginity still lingers in men's mind.”

According to a survey released in 2010 by the National Working Committee on Children and Women under the State Council, 22.4 percent of Chinese people had experienced sex before marriage, and 60 percent are “relatively tolerant” towards sex before marriage. “I don't want to lie,” said Li Jing, a 30-year-old single woman at a Beijing-based advertising company. “But still, it is not something you can say out loud. When people ask if I am a virgin or not, I say 'Hmmm I am a human being.'

In 2005, officials of a village in Chongqing forced unmarried women to pass a chastity test before receiving compensation for farmland appropriated by the government. They argued that only virgins deserved compensation. [Source: Sharon Lafraniere, New York Times, October 25, 2009]

Virginity Restoration Kits in China

In China it is possible to buy artificial hymens at local sex stores . The 100-yuan kits contained a small dark-red semitransparent plastic insert and promise: “Your virginity back in 20 minutes!..No surgery, no shots, no medicine, no side-effects. For a cool 100 yuan ($14.60) you can have your 'first time' back anytime!” [Source: Lin Meilian, Global Times June 17, 2010]

The Global Times described a woman named Xie that purchased a box of “Virtuous Girl Red” hymens from a Chongqing sex shop for her first physical union with her husband-to-be. “Xie tore off its cover, inserted it and waited 20 minutes until it “melted”, and then carefully climbed into bed where her husband-to-be was waiting, with a voice running through her head saying, “remember to act like you are in pain.” After a few ups and downs, moans and groans, they relaxed, turned on the light and excitedly spotted a liquid that looks like blood on the bed sheet. He smiled and held her tightly in his arms. She felt like she was standing at the door of heaven until his question drew her quickly back to earth...”Honey, what is that smell?”... It turned out that the “user friendly guidelines” written on the Virtuous Girl package neglected to mention a significant drawback: the “blood” smells...They broke up eventually.”

Xie, 27, from Chongqing and who had had one previous partner prior to her ‘second virginity,” told the Global Times that the reason she faked her virginity was because of pressure from her ex-boyfriend's family. “I wanted to tell him the truth before our wedding because I thought he is open enough to accept me,” Xie said. “But one day I overheard the conversation between him and his mother, asking if he was my first man....Then I realized if virginity means so much to his family, then I have to do something.” The worse was yet to come. The artificial virginal hymen ruined her would-be marriage, left her heartbroken and with pain whenever she urinated. After consulting doctors, Xie found she had contracted vaginitis as a result of the failed cover-up operation. “I don't regret using a fake hymen, but I don't recommend others use one,”Xie said after 800 yuan in medical bills hadn't rid her of vaginitis after eight months.

Perhaps if Xie had paid more for a Japanese-made fake hymen, her experience would not have been so painful, emotionally and physically. A box of two Japanese hymens can sell around 500 yuan, compared to thosecmade in China that cost about 100 yuan. However, all online shops claim they are selling Japanese hymens and most warn that the cheaper models, such as Xie's, will lead to vaginal infections. The distribution is also “buyer-friendly”. People can choose from the local sex shop, buy on-line or contact a salesperson directly through a little advertisement posted in a public toilet.

A salesman at, an online shop that sells fake hymens, told the Global Times that they receive “many orders everyday”, not only from worried Chinese women but also from the United States, South Korea and Egypt. Bahador Bahrami, an Iranian neuroscientist working in Denmark, bought twoboxes online. Each box contained two “hymens.” “It is a gift for fun,” he told the Global Times. “It is the kind of product that will do immense good,” he said. “Virginity is still an important concept in Iran, even among the more progressive middle-class youths.” The ones packed in a paper bag are made in China and cost 98 yuan; while the ones packed in a wooden box imported from Japan, 125 yuan, said the sales-man. “Buy five boxes at one time, you get 20 percent off,” he added. ‘some Chinese ones are as low as 50 yuan.” Students and prostitutes are the main custom-ers, he said.

An Internet search found one shop based on selling second-time virginity. The shop, based in Hefei, Anhui Province, has sold around 100 hymens within a month. The price is an exorbitant 459-yuan per box, whereas in a sex shop, the same product will cost 120 yuan. To protect privacy, however, the thoughtful online shop owner created a fake link for their customers, from which a “Korean dress” is shown on their purchase record.

Virginity Restoration Surgery in China

sexy fashion show
“Re-created virgin” surgery at the private Beijing Wuzhou Female Hospital costs between 3,000-10,000 yuan, depending on the extent of the “damage.” The prices at public hospitals are much cheaper, ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 yuan, but they are likely to turn down patients on “moral grounds.” [Source: Lin Meilian, Global Times June 17, 2010]

Zhou Hong, vice-president of Wuzhou Hospital and the director of the gynecologic division said, “Doctors at some public hospitals say 'no' to hymen repair surgery because they think it is not necessary and immoral to cheat their future husbands”.

The surgery, however, is fast and easy. It takes about half an hour. Patients can walk around at the same day of the surgery. It promises to give you “real blood, real pain” and that even an experienced man cannot tell his “virgin bride” is faking. “We still educate our patients that a woman's value should not be judged by a piece of tissue, but if they insist, we would do it for her anyway,” Zhou added.

Zhou's patients are mainly women aged between 20-30. The surgery usually takes place before the marriage. She declined to tell the number of operations she conducts each month, saying she doesn't want to encourage women to do it. The demand has been stable in the past decade. Chang'an Hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province conducted over 300 operations in 2007 according to the hospital's website. “From a medical point of view, the hymen is no more than a piece of tissue, yet people have given it too much symbolic meaning,” Zhou said. “We should free women from feeling guilty about not being a virgin on their wedding night.

“Personally, I am not a supporter of the surgery,” Zhou repeated.However, she said she understands the necessity for restored hymen surgery and provides reassurance to her patients. “You shouldn't worry at all, the right amount of blood will show up at the right time and in the place. Even if the man takes a close look down there, he can not tell the difference,” she said.

Birth Control Methods in China

Contraceptive prevalence rate: 84.5 percent (2017). This figure is the percent of women of reproductive age (15-49) who are married or in union and are using, or whose sexual partner is using, a method of contraception. [Source: CIA World Factbook, 2021]

Types of birth control used (2015); female sterilization: 28.2 percent; male sterilization: 4.4 percent; pill: 1.2 percent; injectible: 0 percent; implant: 0.3 IUD: 39.9 percent; male condom: 8.3 percent; vaginal barrier: 0.2 percent; early withdrawal: 0.5 percent; rhythm method: 0.5 percent; traditional: 0 percent total: 83.4 percent [Source: Trends in Contraceptive Use Worldwide 2015 - the United Nations ]

Types of birth control used (1994): female sterilization: 35.6 percent; male sterilization: 10.1 percent; pill: 3.1 percent; injectible: 0.0 percent; implant: 0 percent; IUD: 30.3 percent; male condom: 4.7 percent; vaginal barrier: 0 percent; early withdrawal: 0.2 percent; rhythm method: 0.6 percent; traditional; 0.1 percent total: 83.8 percent [Source: Trends in Contraceptive Use Worldwide 2015 - the United Nations ]

In 2020, the China Family Planning Association, Tsinghua University’s Research Center for Public Health, and China Youth Network conducted a sex survey involved 54,580 students from 1,764 universities nationwide. Zhang Wanqing wrote in Sixth Tone: More than half of the surveyed students said they used contraception during sex every time, while 3 percent never used protection. Nearly one-quarter of respondents did not believe contraception was necessary, and 16 percent of female respondents said their partner typically decided whether they used contraception. According to the survey, 5 percent of university students had experienced unintended pregnancy — a decline from the 11 percent reported in the last survey, published in 2016. Of these people, 94 percent sought an abortion, 17 percent more than once. A majority of those who sought abortions opted for surgical procedures, while less than 20 percent went with medical abortions. [Source: Zhang Wanqing, Sixth Tone, May 15, 2020]

Mandarin Insults and Swear Words

You can insult someone in China by calling them a tortoise (cuckolded husband), a turtle egg (the Chinese equivalent of a bastard) or "nao you bing", which roughly means “numbskull” or “mush brains.” The Chinese word for egg is found in many epithets such as ben dan" (“stupid egg”) and "huai dan" (“rotten egg”). "Running dog" is an insult often used by Mao-era Communists. It is more or less is the same thing as a lazy slob. There are a number obscenities involving animal genitalia. "I'll make a ghost out you." is used like a curse.

Chinese (Mandarin) language swear word and expressions and their English translations (Mandarin — English translation): Wo xi wang ni man man si, dan kuai dian xia di yu! — I wish you a slow death, but a quick ride to hell!; Zhu tou — Pig head; Qin wode pigu — Kiss my ass; Gan ni niang — Motherf^^ker; Gou shi — Dog shit; Shi — Shit; Ni shi bai chi — You are an idiot; Ni shi hun dan — You are a rotten egg; Ni shi sha gua — You are a fool; Si lang gou — Dead man doggie; Tong xing lian — Gay; Cao ni ma — F^^k your mother; Cao! — F^^k!; Ta ma de! — Oh Shit!; Wo cao — (I) f^^k; Shen jing bing — Lunatic; Sha gua — Retard (lit. stupid melon); Chun zi — Moron; Wang ba dan — Bastard; Chou wang ba dan — Lousy bastard; Ji nv — Whore; Mai bi — Buy p^^sy; Cao ni zu zong shi ba dai — F^^k the 18 generations of your ancestors; Ha bang — Suck one's d^^k. [Source: ^^^]

“Ha wo deh bang — Suck my d^^k Tian yin — Eat p^^sy; Gan ni ba — F^^k your dad; Gan ni lao shi — F^^k your teacher (for not teaching you); Chi shi! — Go eat shit! (Equivalent to "F^^k off!"); Diao — D^^k, cock; Ji ba — D^^k, cock; Nee yin — Vagina (polite) Ji bai — P^^sy (bad insult to a man) Bo ba — Huge tits; Too zai zi — Son of a rabbit; Yangwei — Impotent; Da diao — Big d^^k; Yin yang ren — Hermaphrodite; Lao mao — Pimp Pi tiao ke — Trick (prostitute's client); Gao wan — Testicles; Chou ba guai — Ugly as hell Gan tsao — To f^^k Zi wei — Masturbate; Yang gui zi — Foreign devil; Cao ni ma! — F^^k your mother!; Fang pi — To fart (lit. to let your ass go); Langun — D^^k (lit. man root) Ni meiyou langun — You have no d^^k! Ni juede wo hen ben ma? — Do you think I'm an idiot?; Ni shi pian zi! — You are a cheat! Ni xin tai hei le! — Your heart is black!; Yanse lang — Male whore (lit. colored wolf). ^^^

Se mi mi de ren — Lecherous; Si san ba — Bitch Ni male ge bi — Your mother's a c^^t; Chou san ba — Bitch; Hu li jing — Bitch (a flirtatious woman); Shabi — Dumb c^^t (used like motherf^^ker); Da Shabi — Big dumb c^^t; Cho yade — Smelly slave wench Cho ji bai — Smelly c^^t Da shou qiang — Masturbate; Wo cao ni ba bei zi zu zong — F^^k eight generations of your ancestors; Tzau ni Daye — F^^k your uncle Ni ya lian zhang de gen lan bi shi de — You have a face like a rotting c^^t; Gun dan — F^^k off; Pi hua — Bullshit; Chi shi — Eat shit; Chi wo de shi — Eat my shit; Chee jiao — Eat my d^^k (lit: eat banana) Gan ni lao ma pi gu — F^^k your mother's ass; Qu di yu — Go to hell!; Wo cao ni ye ye de sao pi yan — F^^k your grandfather's piss stinking arsehole; Cao ni de xing — F^^k your family name; Ni you piao liang de lv mao zi — Your wife is cheating on you (lit. you have a pretty green hat) [Strong insult in China]; Wa Cao(ch-ao)! — Holy f^^k! Ni shi wo de biao zv — You are my bitch Cao ni gege — F^^k your older brother Cao ni didi — F^^k your younger brother; — You have a (mental) problem Nide muchin shr ega da wukwei — Your mother is a big turtle. +++

Cantonese Swear Words and Expressions

Cantonese language swear word and expressions and their English translations (Cantonese — English translation): Pok gai — Go die in the street; D'iu ne lo mo — F^^k your mom; Say baht-poh — Die, bitch!; Tiu nia ma chow hai — F^^k your mom's smelly c^^t; Sek si — Eat shit; Haam ga chan — Death to your family; Lok chat — D^^k; Hamsap — Horny person; Chow fah hai — Smelly cheap c^^t; Gai — Whore; Yat-zeu — Go to hell; See-feut — Asshole; Lay-lomo — Your mother; D'iu lay — F^^k you; Baat poh — Bitch; Diu nei ma geh hai — F^^k your mom's p^^sy; See fut jai — Homosexual; Leen Hao — D^^khead (Taishanese); Ngoh diu baw ni gor hay darm — I'll f^^k you till your clit explodes; Diu ni lo moo chow gor lan hai — F^^k your mum's rotten stinking c^^t; Pok ley gor chow gai la — Go die on the filthy streets; Da-boon-jao — Stupid pig; Yak-too/Hum lun — Suck cock; Sow seng — Shut up; Sow deh lar — Shut the f^^k up; Sei chun — Stupid; Mo-lan — Retard; Haang-jiu — Cheap bastard (lit. banana); Da fei gae — Jack off. [Source:]

Lei da yun fei gae mm sai sou — You jack off and never wash your hands; Ou lun dun jhew hai — Ox cock boiled in pig's cum; Jhew lun dou — Pig's cock and scrotum; Kai dei — Bastard; Si futt lou — Asshole; Lei diu lei lo mo — You f^^k your mum; Hway say — Go die; Lay Hui Say La — Go and die (go to hell); Chiu — F^^k, damnit; Si tao — Shit head; Gai sea fut — Chicken ass; Ch'hau nee mama — F^^k your mother; Hum lan — Suck d^^k; Lan dzai — Little d^^k; Diu la sing — F^^k that bastard; Lun Yun — D^^k face; Sau pai — F^^k off; Hai — P^^sy; Hai lone — P^^sy hole; Lun — D^^k; Diu Jhui — F^^k mouth; Ham sup por — Horny bitch; Haam sup lo — Pervert (lit. salty wet man); Lun tao — D^^khead; Haam laan — Suck d^^k; Sic see oor fahn yum liu oor tong — Eat shit, shit rice; drink piss, piss soup; Say Fai Tsai — Stupid useless stick (lazy); Lun yern — D^^k face; Le lo mo yau so — Your mother has a beard; Le lo mo hi gai — Your mother's a whore; Au sung diu le — I want to f^^k you; Bun chut — Stupid d^^k; Wan jun — Damn; Diu lei lo mo k ta fa hai — F^^k your mother big p^^sy; Sin ka lan — Bullshit; Lok chat chong chong — Long penis; Lei lo moh zo kai ar! — Your mother is a whore; Zam lei ham ka chang — Murder your whole family; Mah-lan-faahn — F^^king trouble; Haahng-lan-heui — Get out of the f^^king way/f^^king move! /+\

Sihk si sei la — Eat shit and die; Si-pook-gaai — Loser; Ta ma Dik — Son of a bitch; Sei Fei Lo —Fatass man; Ding Lei go fai — F^^k you, asshole; Siu meh ah baht Po? — What are you laughing at bitch?’ Mei Sei go ah?/seung sei ah? — You want to die?; Nlei hai yut dook C — You are a piece/pile of shit; Tai ju ah! mm hai o jow got lei go bau!! — Watch it or else ill circumcise you!; Suck ju lei go see fut loong — Shut your ass; Ngor pey see lei — I look down on you; Sok ni gor sor tao — Suck your stupid head; Ma de mo kau ah — Your mother didn't teach you properly; Hui sik si la — Go and eat shit; Bok yea — F^^k; Mud lun yeah? — What the f^^k?; On lun gau gau sic bun chau — Jerk suck my d^^k; Boo nee mor — F^^k your mom; Eee — Shit; Yak see — Eat shit; Da fei gea — Masturbate (male); Ding! — Shit!; Say q jor hui la — Go to f^^king hell!; Or ding lay gaw fai — Damnit!, F^^k you! (lit. "I'll push your lungs); Lay lo may — Your ass; Lay puk giy — You bastard; Lay yow mow low gah? — Do you have a brain?; Diue nay lo mo hum ga chon — F^^k your mom and death to your whole family.

Fei Por Lai Lai See Fut Sai Wai Ling — Old fat woman's fat ass wiggle left and right; Au wui waht lei dui an chut lei yuen hau bai ju hai lei go see fut dau, sau yi lnei hau yi geen do au teck do lei go see fut biu C! — I'll pull your eyes down to your ass, so you can watch me kick the shit out of you!; Lnei go jeu jeu mm kup duk oh go gau — Your penis doesn't stand a chance against mine; Lahn — Penis (is commonly used as an emphaziser, as Westerners use "f^^king"); Sek man diu leh lo mo c fatt — It costs $10.00 to f^^k your grandma in the ass; Tiu Nyah Mah Geh Cheen Leen Lou Hai Pei — F^^k your Mom's thousand years old c^^t; ski Lay tie gou ho si — You have a small d^^k; Oi tie gou ho di — I have a big d^^k; Nei doe chi lun sin ga. Fan ook kay diu chut lei lo mo gor chow hai yeen hau lye gon jeng nei lo mo gor see fut loong la — You're f^^king stupid. Go home and f^^k your mother's smelly c^^t; and then lick her asshole clean; Ley lo mo hum mah lao — Your mom f^^ks monkeys. /+\

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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