TV Show Triggers Chinese Virginity Debate
(Link): TV Show Triggers Chinese Virginity Debate by Y. Zhao
“He asked me whether I am a virgin,” says Qiu Yingying, bursting into tears.
She has just found out her relationship with boyfriend Ying Qin is over, after he found out she had had sex in the past.
The scene from China’s biggest soap opera right now, Ode to Joy, has triggered much discussion on whether virginity is still a prized asset for women in modern China.
Ode to Joy, now in its second season, tells the stories of five beautiful women from different walks of life who live in the same floor of an apartment complex in Shanghai.
The show, a less risque version of Sex and the City, is popular among women for its focus on romance, careers, friendships and the difficulties women face in the big city.
Sex education in China is often poor. There are stories of male biology teachers skipping details of the female reproductive system in class and ask students to learn it by themselves.
And parents very rarely share information about sex with their children.
What almost all parents do, however, is warn their daughters not to have any dates before they graduate from university, fearing that they get hurt or become pregnant.
Chinese communities also traditionally expect chastity before marriage.
That means TV dramas are very influential in shaping audiences’ values. They are windows for young audiences, especially young women, to understand sex and sexuality and the ways views are changing.
Double standards on virginity
Zi Yin, a Shanghai-based film assistant producer, told the BBC that even debating the topic was old-fashioned in the 21st Century. She thought it was “disgusting” for the show to make an issue of it.