The Question of Sex and Modernity in China, Part 2: From New Ageism to Sexual Happiness

Rocha, Leon (2019) The Question of Sex and Modernity in China, Part 2: From New Ageism to Sexual Happiness. In: Routledge Handbook of Chinese Medicine. Routledge, London. ISBN 9780415830645

The Question of Sex and Modernity in China, Part 2: From New Ageism to Sexual Happiness

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This chapter addresses the question of sex and modernity in China, from around the mid- to late-twentieth century. Continuing from the previous chapter, we begin by critiquing Western intellectuals’ fascination with ancient Chinese sexuality, including Michel Foucault 91926-1984) in History of Sexuality Volume 1 (1976) and Dutch Sinologist Robert van Gulik’s (1910-1967) Sexual Life in Ancient China (1961). By the late-1960s and 1970s, a number of Daoist practitioners of Chinese heritage began to promote sexual cultivation techniques in Europe and America, including Jolan Chang (1917-2002) and Mantak Chia (1944- ). Their ideas were essentially a mixture of Daoist techniques, popular sexology, and New Age spirituality, which resonated with a “postmodern” audience eager for alternative lifestyles. We then move onto sexuality in the People’s Republic of China under Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Again Western observers alternately described Communist China as “asexual” or “perverted”. In stark contrast to these Eurocentric gazes, more recent scholarship paint a far more complex and nuanced picture of Chinese sexuality—repression and subjugation were part of a wider landscape that also included sexual experimentation and transgressions. Simplistic narratives regarding sexuality during the Cultural Revolution served to legitimise Deng Xiaoping’s social and economic reforms. Finally, the chapter explores the “sexual revolution” (xing geming) that took place in China from the 1980s. The Chinese state was invested in disseminating knowledge on sexual health and reproduction, and encouraging “proper” kinds of sexualities. This included supporting academic sexological research, and the professional trajectories of sociologist and sexologist Liu Dalin (1932- ) and Pan Suiming (1950- ) are explored.

Keywords:Modern Chinese History, History of Sexuality, History of Medicine
Subjects:L Social studies > L320 Gender studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V140 Modern History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V241 Chinese History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:35006
Deposited On:19 Feb 2019 12:38

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