Forbidden love

Why is China so prudish?

Forbidden love

Words fail: the Love Land public toilets

China’s first sex-themed park is being demolished – before it’s even been opened.

Love Land – located in the entertainment zone near Chongqing – was scheduled to open in October. But it won’t be welcoming any visitors. A Chongqing government official explained: “The investigation determined the park’s content was vulgar and that it was neither healthy nor educational. It had an evil influence on society and had to be torn down immediately.”

The park had hoped to challenge taboos and encourage a more open discussion of sex in Chinese society. It thought it could improve sex education among teenagers too.

But its mission will remain unfulfilled. The park’s gigantic nude statues will go unseen and unappreciated.

Only days before the news of its demolition broke, the park’s manager was promoting its benefits. “Sex is a taboo subject in China but people really need to have more access to information about it,” said Lu Xiaoqing.

But Liu Daiwei, a female police officer in Chongqing, is among those who supported the government’s decision: “These things are too exposed. I will feel uncomfortable looking at them when other people are around.”

Similarly, a contributor to the popular Sina website thought that Chinese people did not treat sex as boldly as foreigners, adding: “These vulgar sex installations will only make people sick.”

Despite the country’s rapid economic growth, China remains prudish toward public discussion of sexuality. Sex education is limited too, with parents usually reluctant to raise the topic with their children. According to the newspaper Wen Wei Po, 70% of youths rely on pornography for learning the facts of life.

Others might wonder how the prudishness fits with the mainland’s seedier culture of massage parlours and “hair salons”, or the keeping of mistresses (see WiC5).

Nevertheless, the Chinese government has always taken pride in safeguarding the country’s moral ethics. It regularly censors movies and other works of arts that are deemed to have overly pornographic depictions. Oscar-winning director Lee Ang‘s 2007 movie Lust Caution had to have seven minutes of sex scenes deleted before it could be aired on the nation’s screens.

Traditionally, however, the Chinese may have been more focused on their next meal, than their next bout of amorous activity. Adeline Yen Mah, in her book Watching the Tree, quotes her brother as saying: “To the English, the most important component for happiness is sex. To us Chinese, it is food.”

But perhaps attitudes are shifting; a would-be visitor to Love Land was displeased: “Chinese people are in need of sex education. It is important to learn more about sex and improve our quality of life.”

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