There is a Sexual Revolution Taking Place in China.

November 28, 2017

A review of “Behind the Red Door” by Richard Burger
Review by Tom Carter

Among the many misimpressions westerners tend to have of China, sex as some kind of taboo topic here seems to be the most common, if not clichéd.  Forgetting for a moment that, owing to a population of 1.3 billion, somebody must be doing it, what most of us don’t seem to know is that, at several points throughout the millennia, China has been a society of extreme sexual openness.

And now, according to author Richard Burger’s new book Behind the Red Door, the Chinese are once again on the verge of a sexual revolution.

Best known for his knives-out commentary on The Peking Duck, one of China’s longest-running expat blogs, Burger takes a similar approach to surveying the subject of sex among the Sinae, leaving no explicit ivory carving unexamined, no raunchy ancient poetry unrecited, and, ahem, no miniskirt unturned.

Opening (metaphorically and literally) with an introduction about hymen restoration surgery, Burger delves dàndàn-deep into the olden days of Daoism, those prurient practitioners of free love who encouraged multiple sex partners as the ultimate co-joining of Yin and Yang.  Promiscuity, along with prostitution, flourished during the Tang Dynasty – recognized as China’s cultural zenith – which Burger’s research surmises is no mere coincidence.


In this video, “The sexual revolution in China is underway, but not without its contradictions. The ‘sexless China’ over three decades ago is long gone, but gays still enter sham marriages, some women have hymen restorations before their weddings, and some men have a second ‘wife’ or a mistress. In an interview with Xinhua, Richard Burger, author of ‘Behind the Red Door: Sex in China,’ explains the ongoing Chinese sexual revolution.”

Enter the Yuan Dynasty, and its conservative customs of Confucianism, whereby sex became regarded only “for the purpose of producing heirs.”  As much as we love to hate him, Mao Zedong is credited as single-handedly wiping out all those nasty neo-Confucius doctrines, including eliminating foot binding, forbidding spousal abuse, allowing divorce, banning prostitution (except, of course, for Party parties), and encouraging women to work.  But in typical fashion, laws were taken too far; within 20 years, China under Mao became a wholly androgynous state.

We then transition from China’s red past into the pink-lit present, whence prostitution is just a karaoke bar away, yet possession of pornography is punishable by imprisonment – despite the fact that millions of single Chinese men (called bare branches) will never have wives or even girlfriends due to gross gender imbalance.

Burger laudably also tackles the sex trade from a female’s perspective, including an interview with a housewife-turned-hair-salon hostess who, ironically, finds greater success with foreigners than with her own sex-starved albeit ageist countrymen.

Western dating practices among hip, urban Chinese are duly contrasted with traditional courtship conventions, though, when it comes down to settling down, Burger points out that the Chinese are still generally resistant to the idea that marriage can be based on love.  This topic naturally segues into the all-but-acceptable custom of kept women (little third), as well as homowives, those tens of millions of straight women trapped in passionless unions with closeted gay men out of filial piety.

Behind the Red Door concludes by stressing that while the Chinese remain a sexually open society at heart, contradictive policies (enforced by dubious statistics) designed to discard human desire are written into law yet seldom enforced, simply because “sexual contentment is seen as an important pacifier to keep society stable and harmonious.”

____________________________

Travel Photographer Tom Carter traveled for 2-years across the 33-provinces of China to show the diversity of Chinese people in  China: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive photography book on modern China published by a single author.

This guest post by Tom Carter first appeared in China in City Weekend Magazine. Reblogged with permission of Tom Carter. Behind the Red Door was published by Earnshaw Books.

Tom Carter is married to a Chinese citizen, and he lives and works in China.

Advertisements

Earning Equality through Education

October 11, 2017

Prior to 1949, China faced a shocking literacy rate of 15 to 25 percent. But in the last 68 years, that has changed dramatically. In December 2014, The Globalist reported, “As of 2010, China’s literacy rate was just over 95 percent. … Among China’s youth, the literacy rate is 99.7 percent for young men and 99.6 percent for women.”

In addition, ICEF Monitor says, “Outside of the OECD countries, the trend toward more female students than males is also evident. In China and India, men still outnumber women in higher education, but not by much: women make up 48% of the university population in China and 42% in India.”

What’s driving these changes is explained by a teacher in China that tells her girl students, “You must matter. You must be independent.”

She said, “You don’t change overnight. It takes time. The ideas have to sink in.”

The students are schoolteachers from China’s rural areas. They have come to Beijing for workplace training and to learn more about themselves.

The rural teachers in this program study the Chinese Constitution to learn about their rights and responsibilities.

After all, men and women are considered equal under the law in China, but that doesn’t mean equality is automatic. It takes time to change the old ways of thinking and bring about real equality.

In fact, like women in the United States, women in China are often not paid the same as men for the same jobs.

One of the schoolteachers from rural China said, “You come to believe that you are not as good as men. But I hope when I return to my town that I will have the strength to stand up for myself.”

In October 2011, Chen Zhili, vice-chairperson of the National Congress Standing Committee and president of the All-China Women’s Federation, joined representatives from eleven other Asian and African countries and regions at a conference in Seoul, South Korea.  In her speech at the conference, she “emphasized the four concepts of education as a fundamental right; of education as a means to achieving gender equality and empowering women; of the health and social benefits to be gained from investing in women and girls’ education; and of the responsibility all state governments and international society bear in promoting gender equality.”

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


How are women doing in China compared to the United States?

October 10, 2017

In 1949, Mao announced that women hold up half the sky. In one day they went from being the property of men to being equal. Sixty-eight years later, how are women doing in China?

China’s women make up 48.1 percent of the population, but Catalyst.org reports, “In 2016, only 17.5 percent of firms in China have women as top managers. … Less than one-quarter (24.2%) of all positions in China’s single-house parliament are held by women.”

When we isolate China and report these facts, China looks bad, doesn’t it?

But how does China compare to the United States when it comes to women reaching the top?

In the United Staets women make up 50.8 of the population.  American Progress.org says, “They are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” In addition, Rutgers.edu reports, “21 women (21%) serve in the United States Senate, and 84 women (19.3%) serve in the United States House of Representatives.”

The Harvard Business Review says, “In the decades since Deng Xiaoping instituted market reform, millions of women have profitably followed Deng’s dictate that “to get rich is glorious.”

Quartz.com tells us “No country comes even close to China in self-made female billionaires.” China has 56 self-made female billionaires; The United States only has 15. China has almost four times as many self-make female billionaires.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Women’s Rights in China Today

October 4, 2017

Dramatic changes in women’s rights have been achieved in China where for millennia women were stereotyped as inferior to men, had no rights and served as slaves, concubines, and prostitutes. Marriages were arranged as early as infancy.

In 1949, foot binding was abolished, and the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) was formed and supported by China’s Communist Party (CCP).  After the CCP won the long Civil War, it took less than a year to liberate women and bring an end to everything mentioned in the first paragraph.

At the 10th National Women’s Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in 2008, Deputy-Chairwoman HuangQingyi said, “Sex discrimination in employment should be eradicated and the income gap between men and women should be further narrowed.”

It has also been reported that domestic violence is a severe threat to women. Chinese authorities reported fifty-thousand complaints annually, according to figures released by the ACWF. The domestic violence fact sheet shows this is also a problem in the United States. And it doesn’t help that the Trump administration in the U.S. has backed away from supporting rape victims and is supporting alleged rapists instead.

Sexual discrimination was supposed to have been abolished in China back in 1949, when Chairman Mao Zedong famously announced, “women hold up half the sky”, but it wasn’t. It has only been a few years since China outlawed sexual harassment.


Imagine this happening in China before 1949.

Laws may be passed to bring about change but changing a culture happens much slower.

>Discover Anna May Wong, the American actress who died a thousand times.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Feminism Flourished in China almost Fourteen Hundred Years Ago

September 13, 2017

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia says Feminism is a social movement that seeks equal rights for women.

The dates Britannica throws out for the age of feminist are the Enlightenment, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention in the United States that called for full legal equality with men.

Merriam-Webster’s definition for feminism is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.

For centuries Western women were treated as chattel, the property of men. History 120 says, “Most Americans treated married women according to the concept of coverture, a concept inherited from English common law. Under the doctrine of coverture, a woman was legally considered the chattel of her husband, his possession. Any property she might hold before her marriage became her husband’s on her wedding day, and she had no legal right to appear in court, to sign contracts or to do business.”

Female Emperor Wu Zetian (625 to 705 AD) was a very early feminist who ruled the Tang Dynasty as an emperor and was China’s only woman emperor.

Women in World History says the Tang Dynasty was a time of relative freedom for women. Women would not bind their feet for a few more centuries or live submissive lives. It was a time in which a number of exceptional women contributed in the areas of China’s culture and politics.

Wu Zetian demanded the right of an emperor and kept male concubines. She also challenged Confucian beliefs against rule by women and started a campaign to elevate the position of women.

After watching the video and reading the entry in Britannica and the definition in Merriam-Webster, it’s obvious that feminism was alive and well in China more than a thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty.

In fact, in the United States, It wasn’t until August 18, 1920, that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as woman suffrage. At the time the U.S. was founded, its female citizens did not share all of the same rights as men, including the right to vote.

After Wu Zetian, women lost the freedom she had given them, but it was returned in 1952 when Mao said women hold up half the sky meaning that women were equal to men.

Before Mao’s victory in 1949, Chinese women were considered of less value than animals. Not only were they actual slaves in their husband’s house, but they were bought and sold like merchandise. The poor and hired peasant women were traded with the land any time a landlord sold his property. Faced with failing crops, families were often forced to sell female infants and girls as concubines, child brides and servants to wealthy families in order for the rest of the family to survive the winter.

Another of Mao’s slogans said, “Any job a man can do, a woman can do.”

This marked the entrance of Chinese women into jobs that had formerly been forbidden to them – everything from crane operators to heart surgeons. The policies adopted by the people ensured equal pay for equal work. No longer do Chinese women do the same jobs as men and get paid half the wages for it.

However, in the U.S. the alleged land of the free with more people in prison than any other country on the planet, the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t passed.

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Discovering Mao’s Cultural Revolution through Books and Film

July 12, 2017

I read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie soon after its English translation came out in 2002.  A few years later in 2005, we drove about sixty miles to see the Mandarin language film with English subtitles. Checking Amazon recently, I saw 344 customer reviews with an average of 4.2 out of 5 stars for the novel. The film had a 4.5 average.

This short novel spent twenty-three weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The author, born in China, moved to France where he learned to read, speak, and write French. The book was originally written in French and translated into English by Ina Rilke.

The story is about two likable, teenage boys and their struggle after being banished to a peasant village for “re-education” during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Sons of doctors and dentists, the boys work at muscling buckets of excrement up the mountainside and mining coal. Then there is the little seamstress of the title, whom Luo, one of the boys, falls in love with. He dreams of transforming the seamstress from a simple country girl into a sophisticated lover. He succeeds beyond his expectations, but the result is not what he expected.

Discover more about Mao’s Cultural Revolution in China through Joan Chen’s film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl and Anchee Min’s memoir Red Azalea. Joan Chen’s film earned high marks on Rotten Tomatoes from both critics and the audience.  Min’s Red Azalea was a national bestseller. The Vogue Review said, “”The book sings. It is a small masterpiece. . . [No one] has written more honestly and poignantly than Anchee Min about the desert of solitude and human alienation at the center of the Chinese Communist revolution.”  The New York Times called it “[An] extraordinary story. . . . This memoir of sexual freedom is [both] a powerful political as well as literary statement.” And the Miami Herald said Min’s memoir was “Brave and heartbreaking.”

The best way to learn about the Mao era in Chinese history is to read it from those who were there and lived through it; not from some foreigner that wasn’t there and/or has never been to China.

Discover Wu Zetian, China’s only female emperor

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


The Challenge of Finding Love in China: Part 2 of 2

June 28, 2017

The segment of Al Jazeeera’s report on Maggie Gu’s “Romance Chinese Style” starts with the sound of violins at a wedding banquet.

The narrator says, “Chinese weddings today combine east and west both in customs and in costumes. However, the all-important wedding banquet must start before twelve to avoid bad luck.”

China is learning about love and romance. However, it is also discovering the agony of divorce since in the last two decades the divorce rate in China has taken flight but is still far from the divorce rate in the US.

Divorce has become so common, that it led to a popular, award winning TV drama “Chinese-Style Divorce”, which is the story of a woman losing her husband due to jealousy. This program struck a chord with millions of Chinese viewers.

The producer/director of Chinese-Style Divorce went through a divorce the year before he started filming. Many in the production crew were also divorced.

Lost love in China has also created opportunities in a new divorce industry leading to lawyers that specialize in divorce.

The Economist also reported that Divorce is on the rise in China.

While Chinese laws have made divorce much easier, Chinese culture is still having a difficult time adjusting to the shock that comes with divorce.

Today, marriage in China is more than just sticking it out through hard times. These days young couples want harmony, happiness, and romance, which means when marriage becomes painful and/or boring there is no hesitation to get a divorce.

But there are still differences between Chinese and marriages in the United States. In China, many expect their new mate to show respect and support for parents.

Chinese parents may also become involved in playing cupid for their children.


A matchmaking party for Chinese female millionaires who don’t have time to find love on their own.

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline