Li Yinhe: “Criticizing the Sex Double Standard”

The following is a translation of this post by Li Yinhe.


In this thousands-of-years-old patriarchal society, double standards about sex are the norm. This double standard can be expressed in common language: the more sexual a man is, the better; the less sexual a woman is, the better.

For men, people always appraise things positively: if a man has lots of sexual experience, it proves he has money, power, is free, is charming, and even that he’s in good health. But for women, people appraise it negatively: if a woman has lots of sexual experience, it proves she is worthless, unconventional, shameless, and people will ruthlessly toss her aside just like they did to Mu Zimei.

In something that both sides obviously benefit from, enjoy, and voluntarily engage in, traditional thinking conversely holds that one side benefits from [sex] while the other loses something, this is the ‘logic of gain/loss’ about sex. This thousand-year-old patriarchal logic of gain and loss firmly holds that in sexual intercourse, the man gains and the woman pays. If a man ‘does’ a woman, he has profited, if a woman ‘does’ a man, she has lost. Because everyone things this way, and has been thinking this way for too long a time, this has already become perfectly justified, a fact that no one argues over.

The origins of this gain/loss logic lie in the fact that women were once considered the property of men, and weren’t independent human beings. The buying and selling of marriage is basically just men buying women, and something that has been paid for in money is obviously the purchaser’s property, to be looked after and protected from theft. So women don’t suffer losses/get tricked until they have lost their virginity.

This gain/loss logic was strengthened through thousands of years of “remaining a widow forever” education [i.e., education instructing girls that they must only ever have sex with their first husband, and even if the husband dies young, they themselves should sooner die than have sex with another man] , which was directly implemented by the government. If a woman lost her virginity before marriage and killed herself, or a woman refused to remarry after her husband died, the government would hold them up as examples of chaste women, and not only erect stone arches in their honor but also commemorate them in the annals of history. In the histories of the 24 dynasties, whole books are dedicated to the achievements of men, and women are rarely mentioned. Of the women who are mentioned, “chaste women” make up the vast majority […]

After this kind of education has persisted and strengthened for thousands of years, in our society today women are lower than men in every kind of “sexual norm”, which isn’t surprising。 Whether we’re talking about the ratio of premarital sex, extramarital sex, one night stands, sex work, consumption of sex-related products, women are always below men. Nearly 100% of men have experienced the pleasure [of sex], but 26% of Chinese women have never experienced this pleasure. I heard that some colleges have initiated “remaining a woman forever” education for girls, but I haven’t heard of anywhere that does this for boys. [I have heard of] girls pledging to remain virgins, but I have never heard of a “Flawless Youth Boys Group”, or of boys taking similar pledges. In a survey a few years ago by the Women’s Federation on ideas of chastity, over 80% of rural women responded to a question about whether life or remaining chaste was more important by saying that remaining chaste was more important. No one has ever asked men this question. This just proves that the ideas about chastity in our society are one-sided, it’s just a footnote in the double standards between men and women.

The sex double standard oppresses women, forcing them to inhibit themselves and hate their bodies. Even worse, it makes women lose [the pleasure of] feeling free and independent in their actions, they don’t dare to pursue happiness, and can only live numb and inhibited.

I have a belief: a reasonable society is one in which every member suffers the least amount of being inhibited by others (because it’s impossible to be completely uninhibited), it is a society where everyone can pursue happiness and self-realization. This “everyone” of course includes women, and in fact refers primarily to women, because the oppression women suffer is always much worse than men.

My Thoughts

Having spent four years at one of the most liberal schools in America, I’m tempted to say that this article is obvious and boring; everything in it goes without saying. But of course it doesn’t; as obvious as this may seem to some of us, these issues still dominate the lives of many people in China. Virginity, especially, is a big deal, often for men who themselves are not virgins but expect premarital chastity from their wives-to-be. The hypocrisy and stupidity of that mindset notwithstanding, it’s still not difficult to see why Li Yinhe is frustrated. This is ground that many other countries decades ago, and more to the point, women are suffering because of it.

Of course, similar double standards exist in Western countries, but the degree to which these standards are enforced in China is decidedly more extreme. Whether they are entirely correct or not, many girls — intelligent ones in good colleges as that — believe their future rests primarily on the shoulders of the man they marry, and who that man is depends primarily on their premarital behavior, e.g., whether or not they have premarital sex.

It’s my own personal opinion that sex and marriage are two very different things. Cultural differences be damned, any culture that restricts the rights of women is poisonous and needs to be stomped out. I fear that in China’s case, the “stomping out” of these feudal attitudes about sex and virginity will not occur quietly, and girls will suffer as a result. In the end, though, the power is theirs. There are going to be around twenty million men from this generation without Chinese wives, and that’s assuming that every Chinese girl marries a Chinese man. Even if they do, they’ll have their pick.

So what do you think? Are the days of hypocritical virgin-chasers numbered? How do you feel about attitudes toward sex in China?


New Scapegoat for the Xinjiang Riots: America?

Apparently. According to the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute, not everyone is content with blaming the WUC or the CCP for the riots in Xinjiang last month, so the Syrian government has introduced a new three-letter acronym to blame: USA.

From the article (an editorial in the state-owned Al-Thawra):

While the G-8 countries were preparing for their [July 8-10, 2009] summit in Italy, and counting on China to help resolve the economic crisis that has beset them, and on the eve of Obama’s [July 6-8, 2009] visit to Moscow, the U.S. started to employ its usual dirty old [tricks] to pressure China. [That is,] it triggered rioting in Xinjiang province, [which is populated by members of the Muslim] Uighur [minority].

The strange paradox is that those [who are now pretending to] defend the Muslims’ rights throughout the world showed no interest, and did not demand a U.N. Security Council meeting, when they witnessed the daily massacres perpetrated by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and did not bat an eye at the extermination of the Muslims in Gaza, which also occurred, and still occurs, on a daily basis.

But wonder of wonders, they set up a great outcry over the Muslims of Xinjiang, who are [actually] victims of riots arranged by dubious circles in the U.S. and the West. The media, which has [always] turned a blind eye, and is still turning a blind eye, to the actions of the U.S. and its allies against Muslims all over the world, was summoned to cover the events [in Xinjiang]. It [continued to] ignore the fact that what was done and is still being done to the Muslims in China and elsewhere is clearly instigated by the U.S.

The U.S. is worried because China is delaying its response to the demand that it purchase American bonds in order to rescue the [failing] U.S. economy. The U.S. knows very well that only China can help it out of its crisis. [Moreover,] the U.S. administration thinks that China is more motivated than any other country to rescue the American economy, because it wants to guarantee the repayment of the [U.S.] debt [to China], which, in Bush’s era, swelled to approximately $700 billion. It is also known that when Obama presented his plan for saving the U.S. economy, he was counting on China.

Well…it’s a theory.

“Conversations With an Old Comrade on the Eve…” (Part 2)

The following is part 2 of our translation of a blog post called “Conversations with an Old Comrade on the Eve of the 60th Anniversary of the PRC“. Part one is here. The China Media Project has already done a piece on this, which everyone should read, but we thought it would be valuable to translate the entire piece. CMP has more background, but the post was supposedly written by senior Party official Wan Li (万里), and many netizens apparently believe this is true.

Translation (Part 2)

[If you missed part one, read it here]

I was once a high level leading cadre in the Party, and now enjoy high-level political treatment. Precisely because [I’m] at a high level, I must consider this problem from the lofty angle of our responsibility vis-a-vis history, otherwise, high-level cadres would be the same thing as high-level officials, which would be absolutely no good. Our responsibility to history is a question of political ethics; for a [political] party to take responsibility, we must carefully consider this issue.

I say this because I have thought on many issues for quite a while. I recall near the end of the 1970s, Comrade Qiao Mu once mentioned “political ethics” in a speech delivered internally within the Party, that was the first time I had heard the term. Once, during the break of a meeting, I sought him out and asked him to explain it to me. He said he had experienced too many trials and hardships within the Party, and that the question of political ethics was difficult to explain concisely. Unfortunately, afterwards he never mentioned the topic again. Yes, it was thirty years after the founding until the Party finally had such a great talent mention something like [political ethics]. [But] afterwards, it wasn’t mentioned again. Now it’s been another thirty years, and still no one has mentioned it. My work is concrete, and I don’t have a high level of theoretical understanding, but the same question has been repeating itself in my brain for thirty years: can we CCP members really not bear to discuss political ethics? What I want to say is, they [the Nationalist Party] shut us out for 22 years, have we used the [next] sixty years to follow in their path or to fix things? Isn’t this kind of reasoning political ethics? [If] we don’t allow public discussion, can we really stop the common people from thinking about this question? All of these questions have been bumping around in my head since that Shenzhen discussion and I can’t keep up with them. To tell the truth, I still don’t fully understand, and I fear I won’t be able to explain by clearly pointing to all of the causes. This is something that everyone much thoroughly research together.

Whoever hasn’t done what they were supposed to do, whoever has done something wrong, [they] should step forward and bear the responsibility. This is basic ethics. There are more than a few people within our Party who like to brag about how everything they do today is correct, but at the same time completely fail to explain about things that were done incorrectly in the past. Such a great country as ours, such a powerful Party as ours, if we keep marching forward in such an ambiguous and indistinct manner, what will things look like in the future! People are misused, people [who came] recommended don’t take responsibility, inspectors evaluating the system also don’t take responsibility, consultants on [political] mechanisms don’t take responsibility, judicial inspection committees merely inspect and don’t worry about [possible] neglecting of supervisory duties during the process, locking people up and executing them and calling it finished without taking into account the accomplishments of the people involved. If things are like this, won’t this country become a country where no one takes responsibility? Won’t the Party become a party where no one takes responsibility? If things continue like this, when will ‘political ethics’ be mentioned again?

When one thinks carefully about it, the Party’s great mistakes are all cases of “running into the South Wall before finally turning around” [撞到了南墙上才回头]. This wall is natural law, the objective laws of developing a country; when you violate these laws you will surely end up with your head broken and bleeding. Why is this the case? In sixty years, our nation has not matured to the level of societal power that it ought to have, so there is no competition to remind and control our Party. Differing opinions, because they have no way of responding to the “correctness” of our Party, simply don’t listen at all. If [the CCP] has full powers of governance, then we also should bear the responsibility alone, but nope! Within just sixty years, the we’ve run into obstacles for national development, opportunities for the development of the people have been lost, and constitutional rights haven’t been realized. This kind of situation is unethical. That old comrade who asked me to pass along his message [to higher-ups] said: we are gradually getting older, [what I] fear is the final judgement that will be made when I’m already in the coffin! I’m already in the later days of my later days, this sort of blaming myself is something I can never shake off.

As soon as people have ethical responsibility, they don’t live like young people anymore! A nation and a Party are probably also like this. An old person like me, always wanting to know what young people think of me, must hold up his ears and listen. This young professor said to me: our country still hasn’t got an intact and meaningful electorate, we still haven’t built any way of tolerating other people bringing other ideas about new political actions and systems into play, aren’t these the things you are personally most uncomfortable about? The reason I am friends with this professor despite our difference in age is that he gave me an essay via my children, saying he didn’t want it published, and just wanted people inside the Party to see it so it could give rise to discussion. The essay asked why do all of the rights granted in the Party constitution always fail to materialize in reality, and why is there never any revision despite this? I brought him in to discuss this many times, speaking from the basis of facts. From the foundation of the Party, we have always said we represented the farmers, after ’49 we said again we represent the millions of Chinese people, and sixty years after founding the country, we still speak this way. At the same time everyone can see that sixty years later, we haven’t rigorously entrusted [the people] with this representational power in the political realm, and we don’t have a real electoral system.

Part 3 coming soon!

“Conversations With an Old Comrade on the Eve…” (Part 1)

The following is a translation of a blog post called “Conversations with an Old Comrade on the Eve of the 60th Anniversary of the PRC“. The China Media Project has already done a piece on this, which everyone should read, but we thought it would be valuable to translate the entire piece. It’s long, so we’re going to break it up into three or four pieces and translate over the next week (hopefully). CMP has more background, but the post was supposedly written by a senior Party official, and many netizens apparently believe this is true.

We have taken a piece of CMP’s translated excerpts in the interest of saving ourselves time; that segment is in quotation marks.

Translation (Part 1)

It’s been sixty years since the founding of the P.R.C. I’ve heard they’re already busy preparing for the review of the troops, but I am old and my legs don’t work; this year I may not be able to watch from the top of Tiananmen Gate.

A few days ago, a young professor from the Central Party School came here to chat. He was very young and opinionated.

A few days later, he came again, saying he wanted me to teach him about history. The questions were not his, but those of the students studying to be cadres at his school. He said he couldn’t answer them, and thus wanted to pose the questions to me. The question they were discussing was: It’s been sixty years since the PRC was founded; in that time, what hasn’t changed? Why have they not changed? Will they change?

I told the young professor that in the sixty years since our founding, there are many many things that haven’t changed. The most basic fact is that this country is still led by the Communist Party. This is something that everyone knows, but what lies behind this fact?

“For example, the CCP is a party of 70 million members. It is the world’s largest political party. And yet, the party has not yet been registered with the government authorities responsible for managing social organizations [namely, the Ministry of Civil Affairs]. And why is that? Our country still has no Political Party Law (政党法). After 60 years, this is something that has not changed. Our country still, to this day, does not have a political system in the modern sense. It is truer to say, in other words, that “the nation belongs to the CCP” than to say that “the CCP is the party of the nation.” After 60 years the concept of “party and government leaders” (党和国家领导人) has not changed. And in terms of national finances, no barriers whatsoever have been erected between the CCP treasury and the national treasury.

Look further and you see that China’s millions of soldiers are still called the People’s Liberation Army. In this area too nothing at all has changed. We still have no national armed forces in the true sense. The highest member of the armed forces is the highest leader in the CCP . . . After 60 years, nothing whatsoever has changed on this front.

Look within the CCP itself, and you see also that in 60 years no competitive system in the true sense has been established [to determine leadership positions]. It goes without saying that the same is true of the government.”

A few years ago, an old comrade fell ill. I went to see him and he spent an hour telling me all kinds of worries he had about the present state of the nation and the Party, and said he really wanted to speak to a central leader directly. He said he didn’t have the opportunity to do this, and I promised I would pass it along to them. Afterwards, when a member of the Standing Committee came to see me, I passed along [the old comrade’s] words. What I really can’t forget is that the old comrade specifically asked, how can a lifetime of revolution be explained to the people and to history with so many doubts still unclear?

After sixty years, we should celebrate, but we should also rethink, the whole nation and the whole Party should rethink things. A ruling party, the only ruling party of a large nation, should always have the basic courage to reexamine things. Actually, this is a kind of responsibility, the responsibility of political parties. This rethinking will inevitably lead to many differing opinions, and what is so strange about that? If the atmosphere is tense and there is lots of ‘shutting out’ going on, then that reveals the CCP is not magnanimous. In my opinion, these four things should be carefully listened to and mustn’t be shut out: the opinions of the people, of people in democratic parties, the opinions of experts, and the opinions of people who didn’t make it into the government.

There is an old comrade who worked with the Secretariat at the beginning of the 1980s and lived in Shenzhou for a few years late in his life. I once went to see him. We spoke of life experiences and he said that concerning the nation and the Party, he has one great gratification and two great regrets. The great gratification was that the economic reforms and opening up that he personally pushed forward in southern China became the forerunner for national reforms; one regret was that he wasn’t able to redress a great injustice in the Party’s history; the other regret was that he didn’t push forward policies of tolerating dissenting opinions in the Party. He didn’t say a whole lot, and when he was finished, both of us said nothing.

It’s been sixty years since the founding, and in the early days there were policies with their roots in the political situation [at that time], but it wasn’t likely that things would end up like this [i.e., be the same] sixty years later! Those reasons, do they still exist today? Are they still tenable? If they are, then after sixty years of building the nation, the ideology, and the culture, can we still call it “glorious”? A mechanism for tolerating different opinions still hasn’t been built; this only proves that Stalinism and that kind of thinking are still making trouble. As the building of revolutions gets more successful, so too does the opposition of enemies get more serious. Otherwise, how could it be that after sixty years there has still been no change in this aspect of things?

That old comrade passed away a few years ago, his long-cherished wish still just a wish. How can this be explained to the people, and to history? From the first split between the Nationalist and Communist Parties, the Nationalists suppressed us for 22 years, shutting out our publications, catching and killing our members, and inhibiting differing opinions in schools. History has proved that they lost. We must not take those kinds of measures when dealing with differing opinions, or different people. Sixty years to twenty-two years, what kind of idea of time is that?

Continue on to Part 2.

Guest Post: The Children’s Palace

The following is a guest post by C.C. Huang entitled: The Children’s Palace: Where nature decides nurture.

Genetic Testing

The movie Gattaca left a deep impression on me as a 1984-esque portrayal of a world where genes mean too much. According to this CNN article, in Chongqing, a “Children’s Palace” was established to help parents decide how to raise their child based on genetic testing.

Previously, DNA testing has more often been used to detect genetic diseases, but now genetic testing is being used to discover what each child is genetically-geared to accomplish. With the One-Child policy, each only child bears an enormous amount of pressure to please the parentals, and this test is just another way to make their child-raising blueprint that much more successful.

The camp itself seems harmless, but what implications might this genetic testing carry with it? A statement from the director of the camp to CNN about a child’s results:

This child is very thoughtful and focused, so I suggest she go into management.

It seems that there is a strong pseudo-science aspect to this whole affair – “thoughtful and focused” are rather vague traits that could be seen in any profession – so why management? If anyone walks into a Chinese bookstore, they can see the massive amount of self-help books on the shelves that many people are poring through, especially about management. With Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People selling very well in China, and other books about people-management filling the shelves, management-type jobs are quite 火 (literally – fire), or popular. So is this “test result” really a scientific result? My first reaction is no, it is purely what a parent would want to hear – an arbitrary construction at worst, an acceptable answer at best.

Other events are probably creating the economic conditions where a camp like this eventually could be in high demand. A primary reason would be the recent crisis where college grads could not find jobs, even if they graduated from the top universities in China. If a parent can pick a major or a profession for a child so that they are the best of that field, this problem could be avoided. The idea of a specialized child-rearing process is no doubt becoming increasingly attractive to parents.

Parenting Techniques

I wonder how Chinese parents feel about the whole “nature vs. nurture” debate. Should genetic nature fully determine the method of nurturing?

Chinese parenting techniques have lead to a paradox in child development literature. Chinese parenting techniques have been characterized as “controlling” and “restrictive.” These styles of parenting have been associated with poor academic achievement in European-American family samples, but Chinese students perform well, if not better than European-American students.

Ruth K. Chao, a Professor of Psychology at UCLA, argues that this way of describing Chinese parenting is ethnocentric and suggests an alternative depiction of “training.” Chao argues that this “training” concept is much more fitting to describe the Chinese parenting model; her studies also show that Chinese mothers were better at employing this technique than European-American mothers.

Now, back to the CNN article. CNN quotes Dr. Blinn as a critic of program saying:

Kids, especially at younger ages, they need to have fun, they need to enjoy themselves, they need to find meaning in life,” Dr. Blinn said. “They need to have rich deep emotional interchange with their families and parents.

“Whether it’s really good for a two- or three-year-old to be sent off to a camp to be genetically tested, you know, and put in this track so early in life, I have some real doubts about whether that’s in the child’s best interest,” Blinn added. “It seems to be more in the parents’ best interest.”

What is this “need” that Dr. Blinn talks about? Is it possible that this genetic testing is not necessarily “bad” for children, but just a modern extension of Chinese parenting techniques? Of course, Chao’s study only measured academic success, not exactly the degree to which a child is “happy.” For Chao, the important concepts emphasized in Chinese parenting are xiaoshun and guan, which imply care and concern for the child that “authoritarian” fails to capture.

On one hand, I would be curious to see what Chinese psychologists say about the genetic testing camp and how it would fit into an explanation of Chinese parenting techniques. On the other hand, I’m not quite sure the conclusions that this camp provides for parents are reliable to construct a “training” course.

Super Baozi Man

Finally we get around to the real reason people come to ChinaGeeks: video of baozi fighting with nunchuks. And also rocking.

There’s been some discussion lately about animation in China and whether or not it stands up to other asian competitors, so we thought this video of Super Baozi fighting Sushi Man (presumably, representing China and Japan respectively) was fairly apropos.

These come to us via He Caitou, by the way.

Super Baozi vs. Sushi Man

Super Baozi performs Dragon Fist