Monday, August 13, 2007

Sex and China

A couple of weeks ago, I was with a bunch of friends and cousins at KTV place in Shenzhen, singing kareoke. Although I dont do that much singing (i'm a drinker at these things), I did notice something very interesting.

In between when songs are played, there are different ads and commericals displayed on the monitors throughout. These are usually promotional material for various drinks or cars. However, one really stood out to me.

It was a 10 second ad that featured, what I thought, was a cartoon figure shaped like a condom with disclaimers. At first, I didn't really understand it, but after conferring with my Chinese cousins, I figured out what was going on.

It was an ad for condom use and awareness for HIV/Aids. The ad basically wanted everyone to use condoms, and stated that the KTV places would distrbute them for free to any of its patrons.
Wow, I thought... some KTV.



So, it looks like it's working.

When issues of human rights, politics and censorship comes up to westerners, many use the argument that more trade with China will not only open up the country and its 1.3 billion people as consumers, but also help change the society and culture with it as well.

Well, i guess its partly working... in the form of a mini sexual revolution.

By no means am I refering to a trend that more people are having unprotected sex with a side of drug use (like in the American 1960s). What I am seeing is the quick and rapid development of a more open understanding and acceptance to sex and human sexuality.

A recent International Herald Tribune article entitled "A People's Sexual Revolution in China", describes the current explosion of sexuality in media.

Even five years ago, mainland books and magazines were banned from showing pictures of scantily clad models or publishing content that was deemed offensive or morally corrupt. The only sexual content to be found was in sex education pamphlets or books of nude Chinese women sold as "art works" at big city airports.

Today, however, with the Chinese economy booming and the government loosening its hold on the personal lives of everyday citizens, magazines are beginning to publish soft-core pornographic photographs, sexual fantasies and even clues about where to pick up call girls.

This change in sexuality has also been seen in the governmental policy towards HIV/Aids and condoms.

A few years ago, there were very few places where condoms could be bought. The Chinese government also denied the existence of HIV/Aids in China as well (kinda like the Reagan years in the US) Fast forward a couple of years and condoms can be bought everywhere. In every supermarket and convenience store, condoms are displayed and sold at the cashier next to the Peanut M&Ms. Recent reports by Reuters confirm that various government ministries have

has ordered all hotels, holiday resorts and public showers to provide condoms, part
of nationwide efforts to fight the spread of AIDS.

What I originally thought of as a progressive KTV place being responsible for its patrons has actually turned out to be a nation-wide campaign that not only helps prevent STD/STIs, but also, in a sense, further liberalizes and modernizes Chinese conceptions/stigmas regarding sex and sexuality.

Good job, China. Keep up the good work.

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