Sex: Open and Honest

I know that on the surface, this may not seem political and not my usual, but really it is. The same mind-set that informs the anger and opposition against gay marriage and women’s right to choose, also opposes open and frank discussion of sex. It hits home for me because even in my own family, I’ve had two relatives absolutely opposed to open consensual sexuality–despite the fact that both of them have a loose sex life.

To be absolutely clear, my own sexual morality is limited in the following ways:

  • Sex must be consensual.
    • Only those things can happen which are agreed to by both parties.
  • Sex must be between people who have a similar level of power:
    • Child-Adult, Boss-subordinate, etc. relations cannot be consensual.
  • No one may be “damaged”:
    • S&M for example, is okay as long as it is always agreed to and no one suffers physical harm. (Only pain and humiliation that is acceptable to the parties.)

Here is an interesting article from China Daily.

Who are the real prudes?

By Eric Zhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-08-10 09:22

Call me a prude if you will, but there is something odd and unnerving about contraception pills being sold over the counter.

Everywhere I go in Beijing there is a sex shop selling sexual paraphernalia, condoms and the morning-after pill.

It’s overwhelming how open Beijing is about sex.

Growing up in America with Asian parents, I always thought that sex and birth control were things that one should be ashamed of, and the procurement of items related to it should be done in the middle of the night.

Even when I attended college, where everyone is supposedly a free spirit out partying and trying to get laid, I always noticed one trend. People like to buy birth control at night. Not only are Americans shy or ashamed to buy the products, the stores seem ashamed to sell them, shelving birth control items in areas that people don’t normally see.

I don’t have a problem seeing condoms everywhere. I got used to seeing condoms being handed out and passed around while in college, and I kind of expected condoms to be big in China, but out I was wrong. Out on open display in a multitude of Beijing groceries and convenient stores are pills, emergency contraception pills, stacked right next to the condoms. Now, this goes against my whole preconceived notions about China, Chinese people, and Asians as a whole.

My preconceptions of Chinese people were that they were socially conservative and more inhibited than Westerners.

I remember, getting off work at Gamestop in State College Pennsylvania at 1:30 am amid walking from the store to Walmart to purchase some milk. As I walked past the aisle that held personal hygiene products, I noticed a shopping cart and a young Asian couple looking around to see if anyone was watching. The young man was shopping for condoms and his girlfriend was looking out for people passing by. The two looked so ashamed and shy about their actions that as soon as they saw me they dropped the box of condoms and pretended only to be passing the aisle.

My previous girlfriends have always been of Chinese descent or just Chinese, and I experience and understand the very same things that must’ve ran through the young couple’s head.

“If people see me buy these kinds of things, they’ll think of me as a bad child.”

That is exactly what each of my previous romantic interests have said. After many long and arduous conversations about how they’re now in America, away from the social stigmatism that is known throughout China, I still wind up having to go to Walmart or the local convenience store to buy birth control.

But the situation is different in China. The sex shops selling contraception and condoms are so prevalent that it’s hard not to walk down the street without seeing one or smelling the sickly sweet smell of hospital disinfectant. Open 24 hours a day like a 7-eleven, there are always people coming in and out of them.

This brings me back to the point of this column, the openness of Chinese about sex and birth control. Every guy and girl has the fear of unwanted pregnancy and birth control is at the forefront of preventing, said pregnancies, right behind abstinence.

In China, people deem Westerners, especially Americans as more uninhibited, more experimental and more open. However, the reality is, no matter how open Westerners are, there will always be one person who will complain about the wide availability of over-the-counter emergency contraception or publicly displayed sex shops that offer membership discounts and free samples. Only in China can a person fornicate and then walk into a convenience store in the middle of the day and purchase emergency contraception like it was nothing.

Americans think Chinese are prudes and socially inhibited, but perhaps it’s time we take a look in the mirror and see just how socially awkward we Westerners feel when we are out and about purchasing goods for the bedroom.


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