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English to Chinese: Findings of the 2017 youth consultations on SRHR General field: Social Sciences Detailed field: Social Science, Sociology, Ethics, etc.
Source text - English 2.2 Findings youth consultations SRHR
This document summarizes the findings of the 2017 youth consultations on SRHR held in China in April 2017. They are based on the outcomes of 4 focus group discussions with a total of 36 (potential) end users.
In China, the focus groups on SRHR all focused on four specific target groups: heterosexual men and women, homosexual and bisexual men and women. All groups are a mix of RNW Media Media users and non-users.
Sexual health information
For the heterosexual and homosexual men and women in the focus groups the internet has a major role in influencing their opinions on sex and relationships. Homosexual men and women do mention that the mainstream platforms when speaking of relationships generally have content based on heterosexual norms. For hetero women too, the internet is the main source of information, claiming that sex-related topics are not discussed in face-to-face settings, even among close friends. While friends and family play an important role in influencing heterosexual men - especially in terms of relationship-related knowledge; homosexual men mainly rely on their peers within the sexual minority community to share views on how to have good relationships. For them the lack of sexual expression in their social environment is sometimes difficult – they for instance tend to feel very uncomfortable when their heterosexual college roommates boast about their sexual experiences, while they cannot share/learn anything about their sexuality. Participants from the homosexual male focus group argued that even within the gay community, talking about sex is not exactly common, which is the same for heterosexual women. For them, their mothers can also play a limited role in teaching young girls about sex-related health issues and love and relationships. The focus group with lesbian women concluded that there are very few resources on female-with-female relationships or sex. They (have to) rely mostly on their own exploration and experiences with their partners and the lesbian and LGBT community. They also sometimes get information from fiction and (American) tv-shows. For all groups, the internet has the strongest influence when to comes to relationships and sex-related topics.
For the men, school mainly offered knowledge on biological mechanisms, such as reproductive organs, etc. Women seemed to be getting slightly more information in school, primarily on menstruation, how to prevent accidental pregnancy and in some cases related to traditional moral standards or virtues related to sex and how to use contraceptive tools such as condoms and tools. Sexual pleasure isn’t a part of the education.
“Sex education in school focuses on risk control. It makes sex seem to be dangerous and dirty, which leads to fear of sex. It is awful.” - Participant to the Lesbian women focus group
To several of the homosexual and heterosexual men, pornography is an essential resource to learn about sexual pleasure – to some this was limited to their college years. Most participants have projected their experiences with pornography in real life, at least initially. Unlike men, few heterosexual females regard pornography as one of their major sources of sex knowledge. Instead, they referred to sexual movies, erotic novels, western (mostly American) movies, TV series or shows to learn about sex. Some of the women find pornography “unpleasant” ,”aggressive” and “rapy”. This is not the case for lesbian women, who also claim that for them, pornography also played a big role in terms of the understanding of sex. They do find it generally unrealistic and do not take it as serious guidance for sex, but rather an important part of their sexual fantasies.
Heterosexual men in the focus group indicate that when they were young, they would be worried accessing or liking certain content, being afraid they would be found out. Currently, although they will comment, follow and like related websites, they would not share topics related to sex on social media. This is attitude is even stronger among gay men, who are not willing to risk exposing their sexuality through commenting/sharing contents related to sex online, especially considering most of them have not come out to public yet. Most of the heterosexual women who have searched sex-related terms online would consciously delete their search histories and sign out their accounts or use private view mode to protect their privacy. Many of them would like posts on Weibo but would not feel comfortable sharing them, as their colleagues and bosses are also in the same network. This attitude is comparable among lesbian women, most of them acknowledge that sex is not a topic to be talked about publicly.
“I wouldn't share anything that goes against mainstream values online, such as radical feminism or open relationships” – participant focus group homosexual men, China
Topics of interest
Most important topics of interest for the different groups (top rated topics in order of importance to each group)[ Topics of importance to all groups are indicated in bold]:
Love and relation-ships Sex Birth control and sexual health Pregnancy/ Infertility Gender Based Violence Everything else…
Hetero-sexual men How to find a marriage partner, do’s and don’ts of dating, how to have a happy relationship Erogenous zones, How to talk about sex with your partner, different kinds of sex positions and ideas, orgasms Side effects of different kinds of birth control, list of birth control options Male infertility, How to get pregnant Sexual harassment in the workplace, Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual harassment in public, Domestic violence, rape.
Size and shape of breasts, Female circumcision and its effect on sexual pleasure, Size and shape of penises, Masturbation
Homo-sexual men How to have a happy relationship, How to choose a future marriage partner[ Despite the illegal status of gay marriage in China, most participants still seek to establish a stable and long-term relationship that equates to marriage in their mind.], Do’s and don’ts of dating What turns you or your partner on sexually, Different kinds of sex-positions and ideas, How to talk about sex with your partner, How to kiss
List of sexually transmitted diseases, How to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases Male infertility Intimate partner violence Size and shape of penises, Same sex relationships, Men’s bodies
Hetero-sexual women How to have a happy relationship, How to choose a future marriage partner, Do’s and don’ts of dating, Do’s and don’s of flirting Orgasms, Erogenous zones, How to talk about sex with your partner, Different kinds of sex positions and ideas Side effects of different kinds of birth control, List of sexually transmitted diseases, How to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases Having sex when you’re pregnant, The stages of pregnancy and how the baby develops, Sex after childbirth Intimate partner violence, Sexual harassment in the workplace, Sexual harassment in public Female circumcision and its effect on sexual pleasure, Men’s bodies, Masturbation, Same sex relationships, Transgender issues
Lesbian women What to do if you parents do not approve of your relationship, How to have a happy relationship, Dos and Do nots of flirting How to talk about sex with your partner, What turns you or your partner on sexually, Erogenous zones, Orgasms, G spot List of sexually transmitted diseases, Side-effects of different types of birth control Sex after childbirth, Having sex when you’re pregnant Intimate partner violence, Cyberstalking and bullying, Domestic violence, Female Genital Mutilation Religion and Sexuality, Same-sex relationship, Sexting and Cybersex, Masturbation
As for the hetero male group, several participants want to learn how to establish a relationship with women they like, how to interact with women and how to communicate better with their partner. They have no idea what women want and feel that problems in relationships are usually caused by the lack of ability to communicate. All groups say they could benefit from negotiating skills and skills on how to build respectful relations and say there are few satisfactory resources on this subject. Heterosexual women indicate more or less the same: they have a keen interest in skills to building and maintaining a romantic relationship. The women stress effective communication based on mutual understanding (not so much negotiation) heavily as the key in relationships.
The homosexual groups (both male and female) also discussed the importance of communication - they are eager to learn more about how to handle their emotions such as jealousy, anger, and frustration within a relationship and how to communicate these feelings with their partners effectively. The men also wonder what patterns exist for gay couples in their relationships, and how those differ from the heterosexual ones. They find very little information online on these topics. Most heterosexual female participants agree that men seem to have a misunderstanding that girls enjoy “aggressive” actions like sudden kissing without permission during the flirting stage. They also want to understand men’s emotional responses such as anger or boredom better, as they are often clueless in a date. Lesbian women are concerned with coming out to their parents and many are in need of help - not only on instructions for them but also for their parents to learn to accept them. And, like many other groups, lesbian women are looking for dating tips – they say there are few resources out there for them.
When it comes to sex, heterosexual men are curious about women’s bodies and how to have quality sex lives. Most participants wanted to be the guide/teacher that can lead their female partners to develop their sexual potentials. They are eager to please women while being restricted by distorted sexual depictions in pornography and lack of realistic information. Interestingly, when talking erogenous zones, heterosexual women indicate that especially men would benefit from this information. The homosexual men indicate finding it difficult and awkward to discuss sex with their dates or partners. Heterosexual women find that if you can communicate with your partner smoothly and successfully on sex – a controversial, personal and sensitive topic, then you are more likely to communicate better in general and face other problems together. A participant thought men are not as open-minded as women are, as sex is so closely relate to their male self-esteem. Overall, the women in this group seem quite concerned with the well-being and sensitivities of their male partners. The majority of heterosexual women showed a lack of knowledge or experience on what an orgasm is and how to achieve it. They also mention that they will easily fake an orgasm in order not to hurt their partners’ feelings. Much of the discussion among lesbian women focused on stereotypical roles in a (sexual) relationship and in gender expression: in how far do lesbian couples take up male and female gender roles in their (sexual) lives?
“…starting to talk about sex or suggest new things to try in sex might make his partner feel accused or blamed of not having done it well.” – participant focus group homosexual men
The hetero men group had little knowledge about birth control other than condoms, had many misconceptions about pills and knew little and about STDs and how to protect themselves from them. As for the homosexual men, they were very interested in finding out all commonly seen STDs as they are not very aware of many, except for HIV. Most of the participants in the heterosexual female group can list all birth control options, yet some do lack knowledge in certain contraceptive methods, especially different kinds of contraceptive pills. This group also brought up their own topic: How to persuade guys to use condoms. There is too little promotion or public education for men to wear condoms when having sex and some girls felt it hard to ask their partner to use condoms. Participants in the lesbian group did not have a clear concept about sexually transmitted diseases transmitted through female-with-female sex.
Many of the participants in the heterosexual women’s group are not in a stable relationship or marriage to consider pregnancy yet but they are generally curious about it. Some participants also demonstrated resistance to the idea of having a child. The lesbian women, are more concerned about policies, rights and the political environment rather than biological mechanism of pregnancy, considering their identity.
In the group with heterosexual males, some thought the perpetrators and victim are all to blame in cases of sexual harassment in public if the victim wears very little. The homosexual male group seems to have more personal experiences with sexual harassment: Even though some state that in the gay community people are quite tolerant to “mild” sexual harassment in everyday life, such as groping and touching. Still, several participants mentioned their experiences of being sexually harassed in public by other men. All groups recognized that abuse is not only about physical harassment, it can also be mental, economical, etc. Lesbian women also mention their direct and indirect experiences with this kind of violence. Heterosexual and lesbian women and homosexual men all indicate that they have previously advised friends in an abusive relationship, but friends are often unwilling to leave. Professional institutions that offer help to victims in abusive relationships are generally unknown, except among lesbian women. Heterosexual women questioned the ultimate definition of harassment and violence as well as how they should react to them when it happens either to themselves or to others close to them. One participant shared her confusion on the blurred line between flirting and harassment especially in the workplace. Almost all of the women have experienced sexual harassment in public places – they mention that it is “very common nowadays and men do not pay enough attention to this fact”.
“There are still a lot of people who think that women are raped because they don’t dress properly. They won’t blame the perpetrator but the victim instead.”
- Participant to the focus group heterosexual women
Participants in the hetero male group were very curious about women’s breasts and were concerned about penis shapes and sizes - they think the size of penis is a symbol of their masculinity. They were also curious about female masturbation. The homosexual male group obviously had very different topics of interest in this case – the group discussed gay porn and their interest in learning more about body health issues (how to train one’s bodies; how to maintain a good skin; how to become more attractive). Though the group with heterosexual women discussed the subject of masturbation, at least half of the group responded with silence and did not share their stories. Interestingly, this group also turned out quite interested in LGBT topics. The group of lesbian women (and bisexual women) stressed that especially for bisexual women, resources are thin, even compared to what is available for the rest of the LGBT community. Lesbian women also discussed the relationship between Religion and Sex – its effect on society, policies and personal identities.
In the identification of controversial topics we see, for all groups, a combination of important topics and controversial topics. The groups apparently did not treat ‘controversial’ as something they had difficulty discussing, as much as it are topics that are still ambiguous or sensitive in society.
Most controversial topics for the heterosexual male group were sexual pleasure and orgasms and gender based violence. It is hard to find others to talk about sexual pleasure in daily life due to shame or embarrassment and the less being talked, the more controversial this topic is. When it comes to GBV, participants thought people have their own lines and the group had mixed attitudes toward victims. Other controversial topics were pornography and, apparently, ‘being single’ – one participant even lied about being in a relationship initially.
For the homosexual group, harassment and violence is an important controversial topic; based on the participants’ stories, bodily harassment is very common in gay community but people seem to not have taken them seriously. Along the same lines, cyberstalking and bullying. Different, but also controversial for gay men is how to have a happy homosexual relationship.
In the heterosexual women’s group, the main controversial topic is cheating. Women shared observations on how the general society responded differently to both females and males who committed this. Another subject for this group which was deemed controversial are the many double standards existing in sex and relationships in China. Finally, heterosexual women extensively discussed the controversial topic of Gender based violence and, like the male heterosexual group, they still were confused about the definition, form and extension of gender based violence.
In the group with lesbian women, Gender expression and norms was identified as a main controversial topic – for instance when Lesbian and female bisexuals dressing like a male are expected to behave as a male. Participants to this group also analyzed the effects of gender theories and how they related to their daily lives. Finally, their experiences with sexual harassment and domestic violence were important to this group.
Participants in all groups were interested in discussing these topics on the website. Participants feel it is necessary to raise these topics online. Only by having more people discussing these topics, even negatively, can the public awareness be raised. The men felt short videos and serious, authoritative articles based on science were good ways to do this. Personal stories could also help. Several gay male participants have already shared these kinds of stories online. Some in the heterosexual group added that sketches and even offline activities could be good for discussing these themes. Most (heterosexual and lesbian) women liked the idea of sharing personal stories and found this is more important than popular science, while others claimed that scientific materials still matter. The group of lesbian women openly praised the power of stories,. They are willing to share their own stories in the focus group and also in other platforms and mentioned the Vagina Monologues, which they found a meaningful example of how stories can be used.
Digital and Internet use
Internet is used all the time and everywhere by the participants from all groups - they access the internet frequently from their phones or computers throughout the day. They usually use the internet for work/study, chatting, entertaining, networking and social media. All participants mention Wechat platforms (and sometimes Weibo), internet search and news apps as most unbiased sources. Heterosexual men also find sources like national TV and newspapers unbiased – this is less so for the other groups. This may be because these are mainstream sources with little attention for their specific issues. When it comes to Weibo platforms, the participants in the homosexual male group also focus on specific platforms and claim that Weibo provides most various and self-produced information, especially related to their own (minority) community.
All participants showed a cautious attitude on social media - posts related to love and relationship are most likely to generate interaction. Participants might like or comment on content related to sex but they usually do not share it because they do not want to be found out. Relationship-related content sharing for gay men depends on whether an individual has come out or not.
In the heterosexual male group, participants flag, block or report a website or accounts mainly because it posts or contains trash advertisements. Many knew the potential risks of websites, and regarded it as something unavoidable, however, they might feel safer if they have friends using the sites too. The homosexual male group seemed to be more careful – listing more (simple) security measures when using websites with sensitive content (such as pornography). Heterosexual women said that voices from authorities (like experts, professors, etc) on sex will make them trust the website. While lesbian women do not take specific measures to increase their security online, they are very concerned about their online privacy. Many participants of this group have experiences cyber violence directly or indirectly, especially when concerning their sexual minority identity.
The attitude of almost all groups is not positive on using online platforms to raise issues. Though they think such actions are meaningful, they also think the effect and influence are limited. Though some of the women claim to be feminists, they are generally more concerned about their personal lives and do not know to what extent online activism plays a role in changing traditional values. Although they consume information on sex, gender, feminism and many other topics, they are concerned about sharing these posts in their social networks and are afraid of being seen as “radical”, “over-the-top” and “hard to deal with” in their both their personal and professional lives. The homosexual male group is also less ‘political’ than expected: Some participants felt online advocacy is not only meaningful but also necessary, but others countered that online debates often end only in manipulation and in damage without effective results. The only group that is enthusiastic about the idea of online activism are the lesbian women, many of whom are already online activists.
In both the heterosexual and homosexual male group, there are some mixed opinions on what the site should be. Some participants suggest they read about sex for stimulation and entertainment, therefore no hard science is needed, only stories with detailed sexual depiction (as a replacement of pornography). Others support the idea of having a knowledge-focused website, but the form should be interactive and entertaining – some mentioned that content should not ne ‘lecturing’. Many of the heterosexual women prefer personal stories with details. They would like to hear others’ life stories which are not normally shared. The lesbian women focus on the importance of diversity on the platform: they fear that if the platform will be too mainstream, it can only attract mainstream people. One participant even mentioned that bringing straight and LGBT people together would be to risk of conflicts. The lesbian women furthermore stress the importance of having a platform that is fun, safe and has values that support multiculturalism, gender-equality, feminism, sexual liberalism and LGBT rights
Other suggestions given by participants from different groups: interactive street interviews as used on some Weibo platforms, original content, column writings, interaction with fans, entertainment shows/talk shows, cartoons or inviting celebrities.
Some main conclusions:
In China, all groups that attended the Focus Groups see the Internet as their main point of reference for information on relationships and sex. This offers a lot of potential, even though it will be important to carefully see where RNWs niche will be. LGBT participants do mention (in different degrees) that much information is quite hetero-normative.
It is important to note that there is a huge range of topics that are of interest to the different groups that were part of the focus groups, but there are also some topics that are of importance to all (see the table in paragraph 2). Many of these show that communication and how to talk to your partner is important to everyone, irrespective of gender and sexual orientation.
Even though (compared to other countries) China is quite open, there are some clear areas that remain controversial, hard to talk about or fuelled with misconceptions: sexual harassment (and victim blaming), gender roles and being single were a few that came up in these focus groups.
Translation - Chinese 2.2 性与生殖健康及权利青年意见调研结果