In Chinese language, xingkaifang (性开放) is the phrase to describe the sexual opening-up, “a globalizing sexual culture prevailing China.” Urbanization in China has been accelerating the sexual revolution by providing people with more private space and freedom to enjoy sex, as compared with what was afforded by the traditional countryside way of life.

Various sex products are now openly sold in the market. Sexual information is spreading directly or indirectly through such public media as street-side advertising. Fewer people turn away when they see intimate behavior between lovers in public. Condom vending machines are seen on campuses. Products for safe sex are available in convenience stores around city. Even major radio and television stations have started picking up on sex-related topics. Educational programs on sex have become popular. Video shops, big or small, sell sexually oriented films produced either by domestic or foreign directors. More sexual information can also be quickly and easily found on the Internet.

Change in the field of sexuality reveals not only a change of sexual attitudes and behaviors but also a series of related social changes via the process of social transformation.

Chinese sexual attitudes, behaviors, ideology, and relations have changed dramatically in the past decade of reform and opening up of the country.

China no longer exerts strict control over personal sexual behavior. Reforms in the area of sexuality show a lessening amount of government control over individuals’ private life.

Sex is increasingly considered something personal and can now be differentiated from a traditional system that featured legalized marital sex and legal controls over childbirth.  Sex has been returned to the personal sphere under the domain of self-management.

While women in previous generations were expected to marry in their twenties, many highly educated women are deciding to hold off on marriage into their 30s or longer. Their increased economic power has given them autonomy so they don’t need to rely on a spouse. But the Chinese media has still given them a derogatory name, shengnv (剩女) or “leftover women”.

Gender equality has been one of China’s national policies. The Cultural Revolution slogan “Women can hold up half the sky” is well known. But to many, sex education is still ‘dirty talk’ in China.

Chinese parents have never had an easy time broaching the topic of sex with their children. China’s lack of sex education is putting millions of young people at risk.

According to official statistics, more than 13 million abortions are performed in China every year, a figure experts say is a vast underestimation, as it does not include non-surgical abortions or those carried out in unlicensed clinics.

Sex education faces great challenges in China. Many women have abortions because they lack basic sex education, especially contraceptive education.

Experts have called for sex education to be promoted in all schools nationwide, warning that younger generations face serious physical and psychological threats from simple lack of knowledge.

Since the early 1980s sex and sexuality have become prominent themes of public debate in China, after three decades during which discourses on sexuality were subject to stringent ideological controls.

The PRC Government still regulates sexuality to a greater degree than the governments of Western countries. Internet censorship in China does remain an issue. Chinese government has successfully blocked activists from participating political discourse on the internet.

The importance of AIDS prevention in China has been stressed by both the global society and the Chinese government. Sexuality has to be openly discussed because of AIDS concerns.

In 2015, there were 115,000 new HIV infections in China, according to China’s National Center for STD/AIDS Prevention and Control. Of those, 17,000, or 14.7%, were in the 15-24 age group.

The country’s various projects on sexuality, reproductive health, and AIDS prevention each have raised people’s awareness of sexuality.

The proposed Love Land sex theme park in Chongqing, southwest China, was never opened due to government pressure. The closure is a reflection of the conservatism with regard to sex in China.

Edited by staff

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