China sex cliches, inflated circulation numbers and The New York Times

In the late 1990s, two Shanghainese women named Mian Mian and Wei Hui wrote novels that described promiscuous lifestyles.

The publication of these books was followed by various articles in the Western media about the sexual revolution going on in China.

Since then, every few months there has been a new sexual scandal, book, blog or magazine that causes another flurry of Western reporting about the remarkable fact that Chinese people like sex, buy vibrators, enjoy porn and wife-swapping etc. etc. These articles often mention Chairman Mao rolling over in his grave and use punny headlines that combine the word 'sex' with a Cultural Revolution slogan or other Communist reference.

Today, several years after Danwei began using the term 'Skinhua' to describe the girlie pics and soft porn that have become standard fare on the websites of state-owned news agency Xinhua, the New York Times has done it again:

Naughty Little Red Book -- The People's Republic of Sex Kittens and Metrosexuals.

The same story is published on IHT as A people's sexual revolution in China.

The article is about the girlie photos in glossy magazines and on the Internet. It mentions China Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, Esquire and FHM magazine.

The article says that FHM's circulation is 480,000 copies. It seems that the New York Times' fact checkers have not yet returned from their New Year holiday. Glossy magazines in China routinely exaggerate their circulation numbers: no doubt FHM gave that number to the New York Times.

But no one who works in the Chinese print media would believe that number without first ingesting several tabs of LSD.

Note: Scans of the March issue of FHM and Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue coming up on Danwei soon.

There are currently 12 Comments for China sex cliches, inflated circulation numbers and The New York Times.

Comments on China sex cliches, inflated circulation numbers and The New York Times

seems their assistants haven't done enough research...


How many tabs of lsd???


Chairman Mao will be turning in his grave at the thought of all those journalists saying how much he will be turning in his grave.

Wasn't Chairman Mao a noted womanizer?

Stuart is right, Mao used to have at least a virgin a day-- something about keeping young, virile, etc. Dictators did have a great deal of fun back then. Let's all remember that you shouldn't get in the way of people's dreams. I hope my little girl or boy will grow up to be Mao-esque in importance and reputation.

As a social observer I have noticed that the Chinese FHM covers have got really really hot recently.

Last month the cover model was A Duo, in quite an attention-grabbing pose.

This month the theme has been continued with another really, really hot model.

From this I have concluded that Chinese men also like to look at pictures of hot women. It's like a hot cultural revolution.

I'm a little curious over the article's boilerplate on China's new metrosexuals: "guys who love cars, gadgets and girls."

That sounds like a new, more masculine definition than what I've always heard. Am I off here?

Yes, sorry about this. We in the West will do anything to change the topic on our own sexual neurosis. We're a sucker for even bigger secrets though. Even if you have to make them up. There's no such thing as bad P.R. and all that ;)

"in China, where sex is still a taboo subject" Huh? In the media, to an extent, yes, but socially people talk about little else.

This story seems to get rewritten every few months, I just wish they'd go into more depth and look at things like the generation gap, evolving dating practices, the sex ed controversy, rather than the standard "Ooh! Chinese have sex too!" routine.

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