Under the leadership of Chairman Mao, Chinese men and women were raised to believe that sex was a taboo act only to be performed for the purpose of reproduction. To enforce such a conservative notion, the Great Leader went so far as to ban women from getting stylish haircuts and ordered everyone to wear less-than-attractive Mao suits so they wouldn’t arouse the opposite sex. But in the last decade China has experienced a massive sexual revolution of sorts. The sex industry is booming, men and women are no longer hesitant about touching each other in public, and, with the emergence of steamy nightclubs, sex shops and racy advertisements, it appears that China’s libido has awoken after 50 years of hibernation. Yet one generation isn’t exactly sowing its wild oats as it has adopted a rather traditional approach to sex.
Surprisingly, that group isn’t the generation who lived under Mao’s regime, but rather the first generation born under the one-child policy that was introduced in the 1970s to curb China’s population growth. A recent survey carried out by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found that on average, citizens born between 1976 and 1986 had their first sexual experience at the age of 22.8 years. (In Canada, the average age when a person has sex for the first time is 16.5.) Although the survey noted that Chinese were having sex earlier than before, only 20 per cent reported that their first sexual experience occurred before the age of 20, and fully 96 per cent reported that that experience was with a partner or spouse instead of through a one-night stand, which most did not approve of. The conflicting nature of the report, according to the China Youth Daily newspaper, stems from the “contradiction felt in the first generation of single children toward sex.” Despite such confusion, more than 97 per cent indicated that they want to have children.