论中国人的处女情结 – Chinese people and virginity

近年来,一系列的事件一再暴露出中国人的处女情结:有多起关于官员嫖宿处女的报道,令人发指;早几年有四川某大学的女生高调成立“青春无暇少女团”,宣誓将童贞保持到结婚;近来有武汉某高校一女生成立贞节网站,号召所有的人将童贞保持到23岁,并且在网上公布了她本人38岁仍为处女的医院证明;某地实行婚前检查时竟然增加了检查女性是否处女的项目;某著名大学开展婚前守贞教育,引发争议;美国基督教右派组织与一些地方政府签约在我国十一省市开展婚前守贞教育,被美国大报称为具有里程碑意义;各地频繁发现商业化运行的处女膜修复术;最为荒诞不经的一则新闻是:某地方妇联举办为妇女献爱心活动的内容竟然是免费赠送处女膜修复术。在全国妇联前几年所做的一项调查当中,在对贞操与生命相比孰重孰轻的选择题中,80%的农村妇女做出了贞操比生命更重要的选择。此外,在早年,如果新婚丈夫发现妻子不是处女会撕毁婚约;而在当代,在婚前性行为已达到71%高位的情况下,不少男士还是对结婚伴侣是否处女耿耿于怀,有些有钱人征婚更以处女为不二之选。
这些现象都说明,在当代国人心中,处女情结还是相当纠结、相当焦虑的一个问题。成因很明显:传统文化与习俗。在中国数千年尤其是近一千年(从宋代开始)的历史中,婚前贞操既是人们普遍信奉的观念,又是一个严格执行的社会习俗。在世界各国的传统文化当中,鲜有像中国这样强调贞操的。由政府直接表彰如此隐私的个人行为(官方表彰,写入史册,树立贞节牌坊)的做法在古今中外的历史中都十分罕见,其巨大的影响力和被人们的心灵内化的程度是无与伦比的。
在当代中国,童贞观念开始动摇,婚前性行为大幅度增加,仅仅一二十年间,已经从社会上极少数人的违规行为,演变成大多数人的寻常做法。我认为其中有四个主要原因:
首先,性活动目的改变了。在传统文化中,人们性活动的主要目的(如果不是唯一目的的话)是繁衍后代,生殖被视为性行为最为正当甚至是唯一正当的理由。但是,由于从1970年代起开始推行的计划生育,生殖渐渐变成性目的当中很不重要的一种,除非在生育之后再不发生性行为,而多数人都做不到,于是性的目的从生育转变为快乐。性目的的这一改变使得婚前保持童贞不再有绝对的理由。
其次,由于青春期提前和法定结婚年龄推后,中间有大约十年时间,婚前性行为在一定程度上成为刚性需求,这是古代传统社会没有遇到过的问题:那时人们的青春期到来比现代人晚,而法定婚龄一般在15岁左右,所以婚前保持童贞的普遍实行才成为可能。
再次,现代人性权利的观念空前高涨。很多人有了自己可以而且有权处置自己身体的观念,有了自己可以用自己的身体追求快乐的观念。
最后,传统贞操观念从来都只是女性的片面贞操,对男性并无强硬要求。在当代女权伸张和男女平等正在快速推进的情况下,对女性的片面贞操要求显得越来越不合时宜,被越来越多的女性摈弃。
总之,无论中国人对于处女情结还是多么执着,多么怀恋,多么焦虑,这种习俗的确大势已去,所有挽狂澜于既倒的企图只能显得越来越荒诞可笑。人们在悲叹一个千年习俗正在逐步丧失的同时,是否也可以对新的社会习俗和行为规范宽容一些,从正面来加以理解和接纳呢?

 

Source: 21ccom.net – 04 September 2012

In the past few years, a series of events revealed the Chinese complex around the question of virginity: numerous reports about officials spending nights in whorehouses with virgins caused outrage; a few years ago, a young woman from a Sichuan university emphatically organised a “flawless young women’s group”, swearing to keep virginity till marriage; recently, a school teacher from Wuhan set up a chastity website, inviting everyone to remain virgin till 23, and posted a medical certificate online to prove that she was still a virgin at the age of 38; a place that offers pre-marital checks planned to also check whether the woman was a virgin; a famous university offered pre-marital chastity education, sparking controversy; Right-wing American Christian organisations signed a contract with local governments in eleven Chinese cities and provinces to give pre-marital chastity education, which big American newspapers considered a significant landmark; hymen repair surgery is a commonly advertised operation; and the most absurd news is: a local women’s federation organised fundraising activities so that women could get free hymen repair surgery. In a survey done a few years ago by the Rural Women’s Federation, one of the questions asked whether life or virginity was more important, and 80% of rural women responded that virginity was more important than life. In addition, in previous times, if a newly-wed husband discovered that his wife was not a virgin, he would tear up the wedding contract; and in the present time, where 71% of people have had pre-marital sex, many men still wonder whether their future wife is a virgin or not, and some rich people consider that a virgin is the best choice for a bride.

These phenomena all show very clearly that, in the minds of Chinese people today, virginity remains a question that causes much confusion and anxiety. The reason for that is obvious: traditional cultures and customs. In China’s thousand of years of history, and particularly in the last thousand years (since the Song dynasty), premarital virginity has been a value that people commonly recognised, and was a strictly implemented social custom. Among the world’s traditional cultures, few have given so much importance to virginity as China. Similar practices of governments showing direct recognition of personal behaviour (official recognition, in history books, establish memorial archway for chaste women) are very rare in ancient and modern history, and their huge influence on people’s ways of thinking is unmatched.

In contemporary China, the belief in the value virginity has begun to quaver, and there has been a significant increase in pre-marital sex; within only a decade or two, the practice has evolved from being a rare violation by an upper class minority to becoming an ordinary practice for the majority of people. I believe there are four main causes for this:

First, the purpose of sexual activity has changed. In traditional culture, the main purpose of this activity (if not its only purpose) was to have children: reproduction was regarded as the most legitimate or even the only legitimate reason for sexual activity. However, after family planning was implemented in the 70s, reproduction gradually became a very unimportant reason for sexual activity. Unless you stop having sex after having a child – which most people do not find possible – the purpose of sex changed from reproduction to pleasure and happiness. This change in the purpose of sex means that there is no longer an absolute reason for keeping virginity before marriage.

Second, because puberty is happening earlier and the legal age for marriage has been pushed back, there is around 10 years in between the two, so premarital sexual activity, to an extent, has become a necessity. This is a problem which traditional society did not encounter: at that time, puberty came later than it does now, and the legal age of marriage was around fifteen, so the common practice of remaining virgin before marriage was achievable.

Then, the modern concept of human rights are at an unprecedented height today. Many people believe that they can dispose of their own body, and that they can use their own bodies for the pursuit of pleasure and happiness.

Finally, the traditional requirement of chastity was unilaterally imposed on women; men did not face similarly stringent restrictions. In a contemporary situation where feminism and gender equality are progressing rapidly, chastity demands unilaterally imposed on women are becoming more and more outdated, and more and more women are rejecting them

In short, no matter how much dedication, nostalgia or anxiety Chinese people still have towards virginity, there is not much hope for this custom, and all attempts to turn back the tide will only be more and more ridiculous. While people are lamenting that a thousand year old custom is gradually disappearing, couldn’t they also be more tolerant of new customs and norms of behaviour, and start understanding and accepting them?

Source: 21ccom.net – 04 September 2012

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