By Xu Ming Source: CFP Visitors to the 10th sex culture festival in Guangzhou who didn't know what they were in for may have thought they were in an ordinary market at first. Here and there, people casually asked about the function and prices of sex toys, just as they would with a cabbage or radish in a produce market. Held between October 6 and 8, the festival boasted a variety of activities to showcase sex culture and promote sex education, attracting thousands of visitors of all ages.
Zhu Jiaming, deputy director of the event's organizing committee, told the Global Times that Chinese attitudes toward sex are changing. But amid the bustling market atmosphere, doubts lingered over whether such festivals are appropriate or even useful in society, as they promote sexuality within a commercial environment. Festival of the flesh The long queues outside the entrance to the festival were proof of the event's public appeal.
In addition to exhibitions of the latest sex products and sexy fashion shows, this year added new events, such as an exhibition of over ancient sex relics, sexology forums and classes on exercises that strengthen vaginal muscles. The festival also gave away 1 million free condoms. This year marks the first time that the festival has displayed ancient stone and jade sex relics. The pieces, mostly dating back to the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty , included models of male and female sexual organs in exaggerated shapes and sizes, and figures in various forms of copulation.
The event also held body art shows, pole dancing demonstrations, fashion shows featuring qipao and lingerie, and a sex doll exhibition, attracting large audiences. The sexology forums touched on hot current events, like donating sperm, and explored issues surrounding reproductive health. Zhu told the Global Times that the theme of the festival changes each year to keep up with the times. Expanding interest According to Zhu, this year's event drew about , people, making for a total of over 3 million visitors since its inception.
He noted that changing attitudes toward sex have been reflected in the composition of the show's audiences. Now we have more young people and women," said Zhu. If they did go to sex exhibitions, they may simply look at the products and rush off in embarrassment," he said. Many who attended said they were surprised to see people being so open about sex.
To them, the festival provides a venue in which Chinese can be open about their sexual desires. Throughout the event, clusters of middle-aged and older women gathered in front of stalls, often pulling out one sex toy from a purse and asking sales staff how it differs from what they have on display, without a trace of embarrassment. Many young couples also attended, discussing the different functions of the wares on offer and casually bargaining over prices.
To Zhu, these are good signs that people are becoming more open about sex. Similar events take place in several other cities throughout China, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an, each with its own theme and focus. Zhu believes that they provide a platform for spreading information on reproductive health and STI transmission, as well as promoting healthy attitudes toward sexuality.
The popularity of these festivals shows that they echo the call of the time," he said. Arousing controversy In spite of spreading information about sex, such festivals have long been controversial in China due to their explicit exhibitions of sexuality and connection with commercial activities.
The sex festival in Guangzhou has been regarded as the biggest and most influential exhibition of adult products, with many calling it "the Olympics of adult products. He regards the festival as a platform to promote sex products and the lingerie shows as flirting with nudity. But Zhu believes that people need to better understand what his festival is about before they jump to criticism. I suggest making sexual development part of their job," Zhu said, adding that it would be very beneficial if the government were to take up such a role on the issue of sexual awareness.
A visitor to the Guangzhou event's relic exhibit snaps a photo.