Walking a tightrope with taboos in play
In the first instance, a female audience member got up and threw excrement over Professor Peng Xiaohui last year when he was giving a lecture at a sex conference in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong province.
A few months later, in Xi’an of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province, a group of middleaged women poured excrement on billboards showing photographs of four prominent sexologists: Alfred Kinsey, Fang Gang, Li Yinhe, and Peng.
Peng was misquoted and made to sound as though he was justifying incest while Li has been criticized for advocating sexual freedom.
Liu said that initiating dialogue between academics and the angry “dama” (middleaged to elderly women) serves a useful purpose. “I’d like to hear what they think about it, what they are against and why,” he said.
As China steps into the information era, sexual behavior in the country has become more diverse and ripe for public discussion.
For example, partner-swapping was a crime eligible for capital punishment in China in the 1970s. But in 2010, a 55-year-old college professor merely lost his job and social standing after it became known that he was operating a club for swingers in Nanjing, the capital of East China’s Jiangsu province.
“Society is constantly developing and values are always changing. Philosophers have predicted that in 100 years matrimony will no longer be necessary. Marriage may become an agreement with terms and a fixed duration. I tend to believe that is true.
“We should not be judgmental. Lots of things are unclear, otherwise we wouldn’t need to do any more research,” Liu said.
He also believes that academics should be free to research whatever they wish. There should be no forbidden zones.
“They need to see further ahead than the public, and show more foresight, but too much distance will get them in trouble,” he said. “They should not make unnecessary enemies.”