Textbook sexism

Chinese sex-ed book calls girls who engage in premarital sex “degenerates”

A young couple snuggle together reading a book along a street in Beijing (GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chinese sex education textbook that calls girls who have sex before marriage “degenerates” has prompted outrage online after photos of the text were posted by a teacher. “I was so angry when I read the textbook,” said Zhong Guangquan, the teacher from Guangdong Province in southern China whose post to social media site Weibo began the online debate. “The concepts are backward and all the negative comments are directed toward girls.” The “Senior Middle School Student Scientific Sex Education” textbook also warns young women that having sex with a boy will make him love her less, and that premarital sex has a “tremendous negative psychological and physical impact on girls.”

User reactions to the textbook ranged from anger about the prevalence of such attitudes to concern about the state of the country’s sexual education programs. According to women’s rights campaigners most schools with rudimentary sex education teach abstinence, and anatomy classes often replace sex education in other schools. The offending textbook, which was first distributed to high school seniors in 2004, appears to have had limited circulation. The publisher, 21st Century Publishing group, has said that the textbook will be revised.

According to women’s rights advocate Xiao Meili, the textbook’s endorsement of abstinence was indicative of “a common idea among the Chinese public.” That idea, however, appears to rapidly be growing dated. Some 70 percent of those asked in China had had premarital sex in 2012, according to a survey published by a magazine of the central government. In 1989, by comparison, only 15 percent of those surveyed reported having had sex before marriage.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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