Sexual Pleasure Empowers Women!: Response to Susie Jolly (4)

I agree with the essay’s argument that women have been seen as victims in relation to sexuality. This is the case in China. Women are considered vulnerable like children, and the words ‘women and children’ are often casually linked together, for example the state organisation, ‘The Commission for Protection of Women and Children’. Women and their sexuality are often seen as in need of protection. Women’s sexual desires are overlooked, while issues such as sexual harassment generate broad interest.

You can see this in the details of divorce cases. In a case I researched, the judge approved a divorce on the grounds that the husband’s sexual demands were excessive. But a divorce would never be approved on the grounds that a husband’s sexual requirements were inadequate. The underlying logic is that women are victims of, not partners in, sexual activity.

According to traditional Chinese concepts, women’s sexual desire is wrong. Good women shouldn’t like sex, only bad women like sex. Women should be absolutely passive in sex. Women should not masturbate. They should be virgins until marriage. Widows should not remarry. In sum, women should repress their desires. This explains why a survey in China in 2006 found that only 41.7 per cent of women in long term relationships often experienced orgasm; the remainder only sometimes, seldom or never experienced it (Pan Suiming 2006).

I agree that we should advocate for women to be able to seek sexual enjoyment and satisfaction. Women have a right to sex, and should be able to enjoy the happiness of sex, not just serve men sexually, or have sex for reproduction.

Li Yinhe
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Pan Suiming (2006) The Randomized Nationwide Survey on Chinese People’s Sexual Behaviors, Relationships and Norms: 2006, carried out by Institute of Sexuality and Gender, Renmin University of China, Beijing

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