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China undergoing a sexual revolution

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While Chinese women today have increased freedom, there is still a long way to go before gender equality is realized. at a recent Brookings's John L. Thornton China Center forum on women's issues and gender inequality in China, people think China is in the midst of a rapid, if quiet, sexual revolution

虽然中国女性今天享有的自由比以往有所增加,但是离性别平等还有很长的路要走。在布鲁金斯学会约翰•桑顿中国中心不久前的论坛上,人们认为,中国正在经历一场急剧而悄然的性革命。


China's first and leading sexologist, Li Yinhe, delivered a keynote address that emphasized that when it comes to sex, China is in the midst of an "era of important changes." Li explained that all sexual activities before marriage were illegal in China before 1997 because of a "hooliganism law," and a woman could be arrested for having sex with more than one man. Thus, premarital sex was forbidden. In surveys in 1989, only 15% of citizens reported having premarital sex—and "most of them were having sex with their permanent partners," Li said. That law was overturned in 1997, and recent surveys show that 71% of Chinese citizens admit to having sex before marriage. This is a dramatic change in a short period of time, and marks what Li asserts is a sexual revolution for Chinese citizens.

中国首位性学家、中国性学研究的领军人物李银河在论坛做主题发言时表示,中国正处于“重大变革的时代”。李银河解释道,1997年前,因为“流氓罪”的存在,所有的婚前性行为都是非法的,如果女人与多名男子发生性关系则会被捕。因此婚前性行为是被禁止的。在1989年的调查中,只有15%的受访者表示有过婚前性行为——“大多数也是与终身伴侣在一起。”李银河说。随着该法律1997年被废止,近期的调查显示71%的中国人承认有过婚前性行为。这是短时间内的戏剧性变化,也标志了中国性革命的到来。

While some sex laws have adapted, others are far behind. Li highlighted some “outdated” sex laws in China that are still “on the book[s],” but that are no longer strictly obeyed by the Chinese people.

然有些与性有关的法律经过了修订,但另一些则远远落后于时代。李银河强调,数条与性有关的“过时”法律仍然“在册”,但人们已经不再严格遵守。

Li said the indicators are clear that the force of these laws is waning. There are fewer people being punished for these offenses and the punishments are becoming increasingly less severe. Her discussion stressed four areas where public opinion has changed drastically over the last few decades, but Chinese laws haven’t adapted:  

李银河表示,证据清楚表明这些法律的效力正在减弱。因触犯这些法律而被惩罚的人越来越少,责罚也越来越轻。李银河在讨论中指出,过去几十年来,如下四个方面的舆论已经大幅转向,但法律仍没有修订:

1. Pornography: Pornography isn't considered to be protected as it is in the U.S. In contrast, Chinese law strictly prohibits creating and selling porn. In the 1980s, porn publishers would be sentenced to death. Now the punishment is less severe—for example, a 24-year-old Beijing woman published seven “sex novels” online. Her viewership was 80,000 hits on her novels, but her punishment was only six months in criminal detention.

1. 色情制品:在中国,色情制品并不像在美国那样受到保护。恰恰相反,中国法律严格禁止制造、销售色情制品。在20世纪80年代,色情出版商会被判处死刑。现在的惩罚已经减轻了很多——例如,一位24岁的北京女子在网络出版了七部“色情小说”,点击量约8万次,但是她的惩罚不过是6个月的刑事拘留。

2. Prostitution: Prostitution is another activity affected by outdated laws in China, where any solicitation of sex is strictly illegal. In the early-1980s through late-1990s the punishment for facilitating prostitution was severe. In 1996, a bathhouse owner was sentenced to death for organizing prostitution. Now, prostitution is widely practiced and the most severe punishment for organized prostitution is that those managing sex workers are ordered to shut down their businesses.  

2. 卖淫:卖淫是另一项受到中国过时法律影响的活动。中国法律严格禁止卖淫。在20世纪80年代早期到20世纪90年代晚期,对卖淫业的处罚是很严厉的。1996年,一家洗浴中心的老板因组织卖淫而被判处死刑。现在,卖淫行为十分普遍。

3. Orgies and sex parties: Chinese law used to brutally punish swingers and individuals who planned sex parties. For example, in the early-1980s "the punishment for spousal swapping was death…[and] people would be sentenced to death for organizing sex parties," Li explained. But this is another area where the punishment for the law has now become less strict. In 2011 in Nanjing, an associate university professor organized a sex party with 72 people, and the "punishment for him was three and a half years in prison." Also, in 2014 in Shanghai, some citizens recently organized an online sex party, and their punishment was only three months of criminal detention. According to recent private surveys, "many people are [engaging] in sex parties or orgies." While in theory these are punishable by criminal law, "no one reports [them], so they do not get noticed," Li said. 

3. 性派对:中国法律曾严酷惩罚组织性派对的个人。例如,在20世纪80年代早期,“交换伴侣和组织性派对的人员会被判处死刑。”李银河解释说。但法律对此的惩罚现在也有所减轻。2011年,南京市一所大学的副教授组织了一场有72人的性派对,“而对他的惩罚是三年半有期徒刑。”2014年在上海举办网络性派对的相关人员所受处罚仅是刑事拘留三个月。李银河称,不久前的调查表明,“许多人都参与了性派对。”虽然理论上这一行为应受到法律制裁,“但没有人上报也就没有人注意。”李银河说。

4. Homosexuality and same-sex marriage: In regards to homosexuality, Li was quick to note that China's view of homosexuality is historically very different from Western views. For example, in some U.S. states, laws "criminalized or deemed homosexual activities illegal." But throughout China's history, there were not severe repercussions or the death penalty for homosexuality, and it "was never illegal." However, this is not the case for same-sex marriage. Li thinks it will be "hard to predict" when same-sex marriage might be legalized.

4. 同性恋和同性婚姻:李银河指出,中国对同性恋的态度与西方极为不同。例如,在美国一些州,法律“对同性恋行为定罪或视其为非法。”但纵观中国历史,人们没有对同性恋处以严酷的惩罚或死刑,同性恋在中国也“从未非法”。虽然如此,但是同性婚姻又是另外一回事。李银河认为,“很难预计”中国会在什么时候宣布同性婚姻合法。

So what does the future hold for these laws? Li explained that sex is a "hot topic" right now in Chinese public debate, and the "general consensus among legal scholars and sociologists is that these [outdated] laws need to be removed." Those who oppose removing these laws are "in the minority." While that may be true, she suggested it would be difficult to "form a timetable" when politicians might consider amending these laws.

那么,这些法律未来会有变化吗?李银河解释说,性目前在中国舆论是一个“热议话题”,“在法律学者和社会学者的普遍共识是废除这些(过时的)法律。”那些反对废除这些法律的人是“少数”。虽然这种说法是正确的,李银河认为,很难为政治家修订法律“制定时间表”。

2016-06-24

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