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China's sexual revolution and crowded dormitories


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I think this article from The Age says a lot about the changing values of China's youth and the moral conservatism of their elders (or at least the values the CCP thinks people should have).

It also raises the issue of crowded university dorms. I have never had to live in one but I have seen them. It made me wonder about how students actually manage to study there and also about the social effects. I know many factory workers also live in crowded dormitories. I would be interested to hear from anyone with experience of living in dormitories in China.

China spurns sexual revolution on campus

The Age, October 13, 2004

Hamish McDonald


China's Education Ministry is trying to force the country's 9 million university students to live in closely supervised dormitories, in a move to head off a wave of premarital sex.

At the same time, universities have installed cameras in classrooms and other likely places for after-hours trysts by student couples. Even kisses and embraces bring expulsion.

But the drive against student sex - Canute-like against the country's rapidly liberalising attitude to love affairs and the growing use of sexual images in media - is bringing unusually strong criticism from commentators and social analysts.

The latest case to set off an uproar involves two third-year university students in the western city of Chengdu, who were noticed on a closed-circuit TV monitor lying together on the floor of a classroom one evening and kissing.

The college said they had committed "an illegal sexual act" and "intimate physical touches based on sexual desire" and expelled them last month. It stood by the decision even after the girl provided a medical certificate that she was still a virgin, Chinese media reported.

The expulsion was slated by Ye Xingping, head of the law college at Shenzhen University as "somewhat outrageous" from a legal perspective.

"I don't think it is appropriate to supervise students with video cameras installed in classrooms," Professor Ye said.

"That means you don't trust the students. That is not right. A school administration should respect students' basic rights."

Zhang Heping, a "sex culture expert", said it was extreme to expel the students. "It is understandable that young people become passionate when they are in love," Mr Zhang said. "But it is of course inappropriate if they lose control of themselves and go beyond hugging and kissing, because that would be hazardous to public order."

The Education Ministry has told universities and colleges to house students on campus when possible, rather than letting them rent elsewhere.

Dormitories at Chinese universities are cheap but are notorious for their squalor. In most of them, students sleep four or six to a room in separate male and female blocks, and a "lights-out" policy is enforced well before midnight. Campus gates and dormitory entrances are usually guarded.

Many students say the crowded dormitories are unsuited for study and create enormous tensions. In one noted case this year, a student at Yunnan University hacked four room-mates to death over a disputed card game.

The ruling Communist Party has tended to blame any kind of promiscuity on "liberal bourgeois mores imported from the West".

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I used to visit my students' dormitories often in Jiangxi. agricultural university. They were crappy, 8 to a room, and freezing in winter. The boys room was a riot, impossible to study in, though the girls were not so bad. It wouldn't have been easy to get up to hanky panky with so many people around, though I think that students worked together to shield relationships from big brother on certain occasions

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Zhang Heping, a "sex culture expert", said

Where does one get a job title like that?

"But it is of course inappropriate if they lose control of themselves and go beyond hugging and kissing, because that would be hazardous to public order."

Ah, language . . .

a student at Yunnan University hacked four room-mates to death over a disputed card game.

Scratch Yunnan off my job search!

No, I have nothing intelligent to add to this thread, I just couldn't resist the urge to (try to) be funny :mrgreen:

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The great thing about the location of the foreign student dormitory (Shao Yuan) on the campus of Bei Da is its close proximity to Wei Ming Hu. I'm confident the action at that park, formerly a part of the old Summer Palace, will continue as usual undisturbed.

You can meet Chinese coeds at the Shao Yuan weekend dance and then it's just a short romantic stroll north to a lovely park with idyllic benches that are so popular with trysting tongxue that you need to make reservations in advance!

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one of my mates had a flat outside of university as well as a place in the dorm (sharing a crowded room with 7 other men), but in the end he moved back into the dorm permanently because he liked the comradeship and close bonding between friends. and he said you get used to the smell of piss after a while.

I shared a room in a dorm in Taiwan with 3 taiwanese students which was fine, i enjoyed it. you just have to get used to it.

don't know how representative this is but it certainly surprised me.

on the "sex culture expert": i was reading an article which refered to 性学专家 "sexology experts", so this discipline seems to be fairly common in china - and i can't resist the temptationto coin them "sexperts".

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I couldn't stand to live in a room with 7 other guys. Gross.

me either, one was bad enough last semester... but we're not chinese... i also couldn't have a conversation with my friends in the the toilet while having a crap but i have seen it many times...

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Am living with two roommates now, and it's not bad. I'm not home very often though, the room is too small to do anything, including studying (I need a big desk). But I like it that I come home and there is someone home to say hi to, and how was your day. And I like sleeping with more people in a room better than sleeping alone.

Seven or eight is too much though. I once was in the dorm of a Beijing university, 8 girls in a room, they didn't even have desks, just small tables that could be put on the bed, and one table for the whole room. No place for yourself, no privacy, no place to put your things.

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lu said:

"Have those people never been young themselves? How can they possibly expect students NOT to fall in love and have relationships and sex and all that?"

Well, i was wondering: Is the persistent propogation of sexual conservatism on behalf of the government a conscious attempt to preserve a distinct Chinese culture identity distinct from the West, since portraying the role of China as a counterbalance to the USA in both power and culture is a source of legitimacy for the CCP? (there's an essay title for you)

Sexual conservatism could be part of this role, given the ubiquity of gratuitous sex in much of Western cultural output (even if in real life most of us don't screw every stranger we meet, believe it or not, at least not in Leeds). Look at such utter shite as American Pie.

This standpoint also gives China a sort of moral superiority over the "decadent" West (see 中國可以說不 "China Can Say No" by 宋強, 張藏藏, 喬邊 et al for evidence of this), again a source of pride and identity for the people and of legitimacy for the CCP.

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I believe young people falling in love and wanting to have sex is not something cultural, it's just human nature, not just in the West but all over the world (although the West makes movies about it and most other countries don't). If you want to distinguish your culture from another culture you'd better try doing that by stressing cultural differences, and not by trying to go against human nature. That simply doesn't work, or if it works you get extremely frustrated people, and such people tend to be harder to govern.

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