Swing / poly advocates arouse debate in China
China, amid all its other modernizations and upheavals, is having trouble coming to terms with issues of sex from the real (as opposed to government-issue) facts about AIDS, to suppression of good sex education even where birth control is mandatory, to the newly freewheeling urban dating scene.
"A young policewoman dismissed for allegedly running a swinging, or spouse-swapping network, has fueled the already heated debate in China about whether sex and marriage can be, or should be, separated," writes a columnist for the Shanghai Daily (January 26, 2007). She continues:
China Business View, a leading newspaper in Shaanxi Province, reported on January 16 that the woman, surnamed Su, had not only engaged in sex with several men with her husband's consent, but also run together with her husband a swinging Website....
It might not have been so eye-catching and provocative if Dr Li Yinhe, a controversial sociologist, had not openly voiced her support for the ex-policewoman.
In her well-read personal blog at Sina.com, Li says: "Sexual activity between a married person and a person other than his or her spouse provided that the spouse has been informed and agreed is not morally wrong. Examples include swinging and polyamory (love of many)."
The columnist then goes into an idealization of One True Way (and only-legal-way) monogamy:
But actually, true love is the very restraint to free sex. And marriage is considered the consecration of true love.... "This is it, this is the one."...
A theory that aims at justifying extramarital sex is worse than immoral. It's unashamed.
...As to the "mutual consent" theory, it is not worth refutation. It is more like mutual conspiracy than mutual consent....
Then what about polyamory a lifestyle of having more than one love/sex partner? If it is understood as an alternative to monogamous marriage, it is of the same ilk as swinging....
It's not a question of number, but a question of exclusiveness and totality. I love one person, and marry him or her. It means that I attach myself, as a whole person, in a deep, ontological relationship, and therefore ought to be faithful, exclusively to that person. It's an "all or nothing" thing....
Read the whole article (and get a load of the cartoon). Then use the form at the end to inform the author a little better about us. (Excellent talking points.) The newspaper also has an English blog. Please be courteous, and represent America well.
A more refreshing read is this short Asia Week interview a few years back (July 6, 2001) with the sociologist mentioned above, Li Yinhe.
...Different lifestyles will be accepted. The Chinese will have more choice when it comes to sex and their lives: to marry or not marry, to have or not have a child; to be homosexual. All this is good. China just needs to learn to relax.
And here is a longer, deeper, and more recent article about Li Yinhe, from the blog "The Shanghaiist" (August 24, 2006):
"Respected professor upsetting the sexual apple cart"
With a title like that, who could resist? The Shanghai Daily report in question discusses the recent controversy surrounding noted professor Li Yinhe (李银河) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)....
She says that China's problem is that sexual mores are, for the most part, dominated by what she terms a pre-modern sexuality, meaning China's feudal past. What Li advocates is that there be greater sexual diversity in society meaning that we can choose the ways that we want relate to other human beings, including what kind of sexual relations we want to have with them.
...And is ever going to happen? The Shanghai Daily piece closes with this:
The so-called "sexual pleasure rule" is a physiological terminology, but human sexuality is governed by implied rules of behavior and the status quo at all times and in all countries admits of no exception whatsoever.
Without question, the form of marriage and sexual relationships will change with social development.
But one cannot be too careful in dealing with these problems, especially while the entire nation has not reached an advanced level of ideological, ethical, scientific and cultural thinking yet.
There it is, folks the "our level isn't high enough yet" theory, which explains why China isn't ready for democracy either.
And here is a recent Chinese-language interview with her.