Monday, September 21, 2009

Dating and sex in China (and Korea)

While looking for some info for a different post, I ran across this blog that talked about tips on dating in China. In the 1990s, while still in college and immediately after, I traveled around different parts of China on several trips, including areas very much off the beaten path for tourists, getting to know some of the locals.

From their description of things, it was easy to discern the very conservative nature of provincial Chinese, especially in matters of dating and — by extension — sex and sexuality.

Of course, things can be far more liberal in China's big cities today, but conservative mores still remain in many areas, it seems, judging from posts like this:
Is it a good idea for foreigners to date Chinese women?

The simple answer to this question is ‘yes.’ But wait. don’t close this page quite yet. There are a few tips that you should have in your mind before you step into the Chinese dating scene.
  • Be honest with your girlfriend about your intentions. If you are only going to be living in China temporarily, make sure that she understand this. Do not lead her on by giving her false hope for the future. Doing this could cause trouble for you later on.
  • PDA (Public Display of Affection) is still highly frowned upon in many parts of China. Kissing and even holding hands in public is considered improper by the older generation.
  • Going to visit your girlfriend’s hometown is often seen as a serious step towards marriage in China. If you are invited to visit your girlfriends’ hometown during a holiday, be careful. Accepting the invitation may send the wrong message to her and her family.
  • In traditional culture, the fewer boyfriends that a girl has before marriage, the better. Ideally, a girl should marry her first boyfriend.
  • Having multiple girlfriends in China is never a good idea. As I wrote about earlier, acting ‘the playboy’ in China could have serious consquences on the status of your visa.
In fact, this description of China today seems eerily parallel to South Korea in the 1990s. With some qualification, of course. But up until some point in the 1990s or early 2000s, public displays of affection were seriously frowned upon — to the point that random ajŏshi would berate you — whether the couple was both Korean or mixed race or whatever.

Heck, some of it — like the stuff about meeting the parents — is still valid today. Of course, South Korean society is loosening up a bit, which is generally a good thing, but many parents today have very rigid notions about courting and marriage, and some of that might not change unless more and more adult daughters and sons start rejecting marriage out right.

1 comment:

  1. My (early-twenties) Chinese friend often claims that sexual attitudes vary wildly across age groups. 20-somethings are liberal, comparable to Western mores, and he often claims teenagers today are launching their own sexual revolution and are wildly experimental.

    At any rate, attitudes towards sex and dating in any culture are difficult to describe accurately without a hundreds of pages of anthropology fieldwork,


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