Hans Lopez-Vito
Jun 22, 2011

Five things you need to know about sex and the youth generation in China

Hans Lopez-Vito is the executive planning director for BBDO/Proximity Greater China. These past few months, his planning team has been busy trying to understand young people’s notions of love, sex, and intimacy in China’s tier 1 and 2 cities. Here are five things they have learned:

Hans Lopez-Vito, executive planning director, BBDO/Proximity Greater China
Hans Lopez-Vito, executive planning director, BBDO/Proximity Greater China

1. Going out without the parent’s permission is considered more wrong than pre-marital sex

50 per cent say it is wrong to go out with friends without the permission of one’s mom and dad.  On the other hand, much fewer would say that “living-in before marriage” (25 per cent) and “having sex before marriage” (24 per cent) is wrong.

2. Their new mindsets about sex are actively shaping their lifestyle and behaviors

57 per cent of Chinese singles from the post-80s and post-90s generation in key cities have already had sex with their boyfriends/girlfriends.  Furthermore, some youth are even willing to push the boundaries – with 11 per cent already having experienced a one-night stand.

3. China’s sexual awakening is happening at a younger age 

Those who were born during the 1980s first had sex at about 22 years old (median).  For their post-90s counterparts, it’s happening much earlier at 19 years old.

4. One in 10 married individuals have had a romantic relationship with someone from the same sex

While over 60 per cent personally believe there is nothing wrong with being gay, they are ashamed of ‘coming out of the closet’ to reveal their true sexuality.  According to local experts, China has over 20 million sexually-active gay men – 80 per cent of whom are hiding behind the veil of marriage.

5. Some traditions still persist

Even though China is embracing new values, when it comes to issues related to sex and intimacy some very archaic mindsets continue to persist.  Those who know Chinese history recognise that concubinage has had a long heritage in China.  From our research, it seems that the attitudes that drive this age-old practice persist to this day. Over a third (35 per cent) of young Chinese men think it is alright for a man to have more than one girlfriend or a mistress.  Among married men, the figure is even higher at 46 per cent - showing how challenging it must be for Chinese men to stay faithful once they get married.  In fact, 22 per cent of married males admit to having cheated on their spouse.


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