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Let's Talk About Sex
By May 4, 2007 Activities


Liu Dalin is China's Alfred Kinsey; a former professor of sociology at Shanghai University and now the country's pioneer in the field of sexology. Throughout 1989-1990, Liu conducted a nationwide survey on sexual behaviour in China. During this time he steadily built up a collection of sex-themed antiques, which today numbers close to 4,000 artefacts and constitutes part of China's first Sex Museum in Shanghai.

The museum, which Liu founded along with colleague Dr. Hu Hong Xia, has had some trouble over the years. Originally located on Nanjing Lu, the rent was too high and attracting customers was difficult - Liu wasn't allowed to hang a sign outside with the word 'sex' on it. So the museum moved to Wuding Lu, before further financial issues forced it to relocate to Tongli in Jiangsu. Today, sufficient funds have been raised to allow a small second branch of the museum to open once again in Shanghai, at the Pu Dong end of the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.

There are ten small exhibitions, each focusing on different aspects of sexuality. For example, there's a section on what the translation calls 'abnormal behaviour' such as bestiality and homosexuality (the latter was only declassified as a psychological disorder in China in 2001, but the museum takes a more liberal view towards it). In an attempt to draw comparisons between eastern and western views of sex there are objects from other countries too. All that really gets highlighted though is the fact that western countries have more laid back attitudes - over here you can't buy mugs with handles shaped like naked women.

A large part of the collection features the world of prostitution, such as tea cups which were used in brothels and have pictures of naked women at the bottom. Other exhibits are slightly harder to stomach, for instance a donkey saddle with a wooden dildo attached. Skip to the next paragraph now if you're squeamish. In ancient China, adulterous women were made to sit on the saddle and ride through town. The intention, as the English translation pointedly explains, was to 'ruin them'. Gruesome.
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