Premarital Sex Wasn't Accepted in China, But Not Nowadays

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From ancient times, Chinese culture has been considered as much more conservative than Western culture, especially regarding sex. It is partly due to Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism and Buddhism, which occupies 18.2% of population (244 million) Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism advocate chastity and regard sex as evil and corrupted; while Buddhism discourages all desires, including sexual wants On the contrary, in the west, homosexual and bisexual behaviours had been accepted in Rome period. The term ‘sexual normality’ had been reviewed to include those regarded as ‘sexual deviants’ in the past in the Enlightenment perioIt shows that Western view on intimate sexuality is more open-minded than the Chinese one.

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As the society changes, non-traditional intimate sexuality, including pre-marital sex, extramarital affairs and cohabitation, is becoming more prevalent It is undoubtedly Chinese view on sex is getting more similar to the Western thoughts. However, it is still largely different from the Western one. It will be explained regarding sex, marriage and homosexuality.

Sex has been a taboo in the Chinese society for centuries. This is reflected in the sex education system in China. In China, sex education is not compulsory but optional in pilot projects. According to the survey conducted by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, Hong Kong students’ sexual knowledge is declining. Students age between 12 to 13 only answered 5 questions correctly out of 12 questions, which was lower than the result in 2011. The result was unsatisfactory. Sex education in Hong Kong is greatly influenced by religion, since many schools are sponsored by Catholic, Protestant or Buddhist organizations. Thus, it is very conservative. The education only covers general topics like puberty, handling sexual impulses and differentiating love from friendship. Rather sensitive topics like contraception and homosexuality are not mentioned. Teachers revealed that they did not receive any comprehensive training. They even felt embarrassed when teaching. Apart from school, education from parents is also essential. However, around 75% of parents think it is too early to learn about contraception and homosexuality before their children complete their studies. The reluctance in allowing their children to expose to different sexual topics hinders the process of forming different recognized sexuality in the society. It not only shows that sex education is insufficient but also show that Chinese people view sex as something embarrassing and feel discomfort to discuss.

On the contrast, sex is discussed freely and directly in Western society. The society sees sex as something beautiful and exciting, instead of something shameful. Hence, its sex education is quite adequate. It is mandatory in all public schools of the United States, which is supported by most of the parents. Its content covers contraception and homosexuality. Even at home, parents share their sexual experiences, knowledge about sexual risks and protection, mostly when their children reach stage of attending middle school. Researches show that education changes one’s perception towards sexuality, to avoid prejudice and misunderstanding about sex. Thus, the difference in education mindset explains the great difference in Chinese and Western attitudes towards sex.

Premarital sex is still not wide accepted. It is true that premarital sex is getting more common in China. Comparing with a generation ago, respondents who admit of having premarital sex increase for 55%, it reaches 70%. From the data, it seems that China has become more open-minded, like the Western countries. However, it is not true. Most Chinese people only have premarital sex with their potential husband or wife, unlike the Westerners, who do premarital sex with partners who may not be considered as future partner, like one-night stand. Chinese people still value female’s virginity There are still more than half of the Chinese interviewees did not accept premarital sex. .

In a nutshell, Chinese view and Western view still consist great differences. Though the actual practices in China might be more similar to the West, like the prevalence in premarital sex, the society and ideology behind is still conservative. The traditional belief, the government and the public culture also contributes to the differences.   

29 April 2022

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