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The very first law passed in the newly established People's Republic was the marriage law of 1950, which encouraged love-based matches, made concubinage and child marriage illegal, and gave men and women equal rights in divorce proceedings.
This was no Western-style sexual revolution; Chinese society remained deeply conservative, and the Communist state preferred to keep it that way.
The allegations triggered a society-wide reckoning, as women across the country and around the world who have experienced sexual assault posted the deceptively simple five letters “me too” on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
It was a stunning public display that seemed to shed light on a universal experience.
Up until the early 20th century, Chinese family structure and sexual values remained — to use the party's own term — “feudal.” Women fell under the authority of their male relatives, and female chastity was highly prized, while men could keep concubines.
After 1949, the party prioritised marriage reform as part of its goal to create a New China by sweeping away Western imperialism and feudal traditions alike.
It was just at this point that Chinese state-run media decided to wade into this shared public moment of confession and vulnerability in order to win points for its supposed civilisational superiority.
On 16 October, the government-run English-language newspaper published an opinion article called “Weinstein case demonstrates cultural differences,” that posed the question: “What prevents sexual harassment from being a common phenomenon in China, as it is in most Western societies?
In 1989, just 15.5 percent of China's populace had sex before marriage, according to Chinese sexologist Li Yinhe; by 2012, that number had risen to more than 70 percent.Discussion of sexually transmitted diseases remained taboo; the government was complicit in the cover-up of an AIDS epidemic in the 1990s.Rules against unmarried couples sharing hotel rooms were finally lifted in the 2000s, years after they'd stopped being enforced, although the rare children born outside of marriage faced massive state stigma.And with Western democracy as its primary competitor, the party takes every opportunity, no matter how vulgar, to demonstrate China's superiority over what it presents as a chaotic, violent, and debauched West.
That explains both the tasteless piece — and what happened to me.
China's repressed struggle became visible last week as America belatedly dealt with longstanding sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.