Home > Uncategorized > Mixed Sex Education Messages From China

Mixed Sex Education Messages From China

I’m at the age where most of my friends are getting married.  It’s not really that depressing, but by the time that you hit 33 (as I will be this May), it becomes apparent that the number of women that are a) eligible, and b) my age is pretty small.  Many of those women are single for a reason, and because most of the single girls have been educated by TV shows and no-one else, it’s fair to say that by and large, not all of their dogs are barking.  On paper, I’m pretty much perfect – rich, vaguely decent looking (certainly slim by modern Chinese standards) and I have a government job.  Ok, I work for a university, but I don’t have to pay rent and all my meals are subsidized, leaving a fairly large monthly disposable income.  
The fact that I’m single is down to a number of factors.  The first is that I’m plainly no sleazy enough.  I do actually respect women, I find one night stands to be something quite pointless, and, as I get older, personality trumps the body.  Most of my contemporaries have pretty much the opposite view, you just needed to look at the crowds of confused men that scattered through the bars at Chao Yang West Gate in bewildered, pathetic groups when Maggies closed down in 2008 to see that.  Most of the girls are incredibly highly educated too, especially the ones that can speak English, and were probably learning French and German before they were on solids.  It’s hard to treat a woman who was being taught stuff about particle accelerators in the last year of high school, and the only reason that she didn’t complete a Phd was because she didn’t have enough time as some samey pick-up in a bar.  Especially when she takes time out to write haiku in the morning.  And then translate it into Finnish.  
In Japan there wasn’t much hope for me, since I really wanted to meet a girl who could engage me in a conversation, rather than nod and “mmm” in that annoyingly endearing way that Japanese women do, needless to say, I ended up with a Chinese girl instead.  
I had come to the rather racist conclusion that Chinese girls should stick to Chinese men, and Japanese girl should stick to Japanese men.  Chinese men have the right attitude, and it’s probably why I hate the vast majority of Chinese men that I have to come into contact with.  I simply don’t have the wherewithal to occasionally bring my bitch into line with a quick backhander, but I’m pretty sure that to a Chinese woman, three with the belt now and again, it’s perfectly normal.  I’m just not that assertive.  Culturally, a westerner doesn’t really tick all the subconcious boxes that a Chinese girl needs in order to commit to a long term relationship – most of the Japanese/western marriage that I knew about were falling apart, and the vast number of western/Chinese marriages that I know about aren’t happy ones, or have caused massive, irreparable rifts in at least one of the families.   
Despite the apparent hopelessness of my situation, I’m in a better position than most Chinese men.  Since most Chinese men are raised in families that have typically overbearing mothers and distant fathers, they don’t really have much in the way of a male role model.  Which is why a lot of them are single and desperate, and rather unable to converse on any level with a woman.  The bad news gets worse when the idea of “losing face” is added into the mix: the men can’t really have a girlfriend who is less qualified than they are, and since the women regularly beat the men academically, there’s a lot of single guys about.  
The situation has become so bad that people are advertising on the Internet.  Not to find a girlfriend, but to rent one out, especially over the Spring Festival where many of the guys go home only to be confronted with questions about when they plan to get married.  Oddly, if you’re a Chinese guy, the philandering begins once you get married.  Mistresses are still a show of how wealthy and powerful you are (by those standards, I’m not very much of either).  “The practice of monogamy is only 60 years old in China. Before that the number of mistresses a man possessed was an indicator of his success,” so says Li Yin He in the Global Times.  Liu Zhu Jun (pictured) alledgedly had 18 mistresses, each of them willing to cater to his uniform festish – and will all that sex going on, he still managed to be the Minister of Railways, until his dismissal in February 2011.   
The relative sexual inexperience of a Chinese girl isn’t much of a help when it comes to finding a soul mate.  It’s entirely possible, because I’ve been to lots of weddings betwixt westerners and Chinese women, but for the most part, these couplings seem to fall into one of three categories: 
1) Pregnancy – the couple get married to save face in the light of the impending patter of feet.  
2) Statute of Limitations – there comes a time when a couple live together for so long that getting married seems to be nothing more than a formality.  
3) Pressure from parents – the big one, since most Chinese thinking is about 25 years behind current thinking in the western world, most women would probably be pressured into marrying someone by the parents rather than having to put up with the shame of living in sin.  
Between these three you’d think that either I would have been stupid enough to get a girl knocked up by now, OR, I would be in the same weary long term relationship for long enough that someone would’ve eventually complained enough for me to grudgingly go through the prolonged agony of a Chinese wedding, but no.  Sex education in China is somewhat lacking, especially for a country that has copulated it’s way to 1.3 billion people, but statistics show that teenage pregnancies are on the increase, and, worse, many teachers are dismissing sex ed classes as unnecessary.  In Shanghai, there’s only one helpline, run by Zhang Zhengrong which gets around 1,000 calls a day from distressed teenage girls.  3 percent of the 50,000 callers they’ve had since they were established in 2006 have have three or more abortions.  Another three per cent have had an abortion in an unlicensed (read “cheap”) clinic.  While some parents believe that if their kids don’t know about sex, they won’t worry about it, but the Women of China website tells some horrific stories: 
Two years ago a father in Shanghai rushed his 19-year-old daughter to a hospital after she had given birth to a baby at home. In order not to be discovered by her parents, the young woman secretly delivered the baby herself in the toilet. Then she put the baby in a plastic bag and threw it in a neighborhood garbage can.  The father couldn’t believe it and told me his daughter was a good student, hard-working at school and obedient at home,” Zhang says. “The careless parents didn’t know she was pregnant until she gave birth!”
At the end of last year, the government began it’s “Steps of Growth” programme for high school students, which immediately triggered a mealstrom of controversy.  For a start, there was never any consensus as to what age the kids should start in the programme, and early in 2011, a school established rules that stipulated that boys and girls should stay 50cm apart when they are talking in public – the “distance for civilized communication” was rounded decried throughout the media, when the China Daily bellowed that local schools should follow rules passed by the Ministry of Education rather than making it up as they go along.   
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