We are shocked by what this Chinese textbook says about premarital sex

Sex education can be a hot-button topic for a lot of people. The way we know and understand sex and our own sexualities has transformed throughout the years, with a lot of old myths about doing the deed still floating around all over the place. But there are still a lot of troubling, lingering ideas about sex that persist in the world. Including the news about this disturbing Chinese text book, which is filled with some pretty shocking ideas about sexuality.

The book, which is titled High School Sex Education and is distributed in the Jiangxi province, encourages women to not engage in premarital sex but not for any of the reasons you’ve (likely) heard. It says that, “premarital sex has a tremendous negative psychological and physical impact on girls.” Boys are referred to as “conquerors” and girls become “degraded” by having sex with them. The texts also claim that “sexual relations can cause women to lose love.”


Those sexist ideas (and the many more the book contains) are sparking serious debate about gender equality in China. There is no unified system for sex education in the country according to the Chinese sexologist Li Yinhe, which means that there is a lot of conflicting messages being sent to Chinese youth on sex education. And with sexuality being confusing enough during your teenage years, we can only imagine the negative impact these “archaic Chinese beliefs” (as she understandably calls them) can cause for the youth who grow up exposed to them.

And while these beliefs (and this textbook) have both been around for a long time, this new debate began because a teacher in the Jianxi province posted to a Twitter-like Chinese blog page about some of the more disturbing messages in the textbooks. Because the content has gone viral and sparked an international debate about sexual equality, the book’s publishers have apparently promised to “make appropriate edits” to future editions.

The fact that these books still exist and are being taught are a good reminder that, even though a woman will be the presumptive major-party nominee for President of the United States, there is still a lot of gender inequality all over the world.

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