Sex, Please—We’re Young and Chinese

Hannah Beech in Time Magazine:

Li_liFor the past couple of years, Li has kept a blog—written under the pen name Muzi Mei—that has chronicled everything from her penchant for orgies and Internet dating to her skepticism toward marriage when it means staying faithful to one man. This fall the Beijing resident posted a recording of her own lovemaking sounds that would make Paris Hilton blush. More than 50,000 people simultaneously tried to download the 25-minute podcast, crashing the host server. Despite government attempts to censor it, the sex diary is so popular that Li’s pen name is intermittently the most searched keyword on China’s top search engine. “I express my freedom through sex,” says Li, unapologetically. “It’s my life, and I can do what I want.”

Freedom in the bedroom is a novel concept in China, where for decades communist minders dictated most aspects of people’s private lives. Dressed in baggy Mao suits—hardly outfits to set the pulse racing—citizens of the People’s Republic had to ask permission from local officials on everything from whom to marry to what kind of birth control to use. But these days many Chinese are walking on the wilder side. Sparked by the easing of government control over individual lifestyle choices and the spread of more permissive, Western attitudes toward sex, Chinese are copulating earlier, more often and with more partners than ever before. Today 70% of Beijing residents say they have had sexual relations before marriage, compared with just 15.5% in 1989, according to Li Yinhe, a sociologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

More here.