Swinging to Freedom: Group Sex in China Major No-No.

Ma Yaohai a 53 year old computer professor is facing three and a half years in prison for what the government deemed, “licentious” behavior, or rather, he was big on the swinger scene.

In private, the professor, Ma Yaohai, 53, led a life that became intolerable to Chinese authorities: for the past six years, he was a member of informal swingers clubs that practiced group sex and partner swapping. In online chat rooms, his handle was Roaring Virile Fire. He organized and engaged in at least 18 orgies, most of them in the two-bedroom apartment in Nanjing where he lived with his mother, according to prosecutors.
On Thursday, a court sentenced the randy Mr. Ma to three and a half years in prison, a severe penalty for a crime that the Chinese government calls “crowd licentiousness.” Mr. Ma, now China’s most famous swinger, remains defiant and plans to appeal, saying his sex life is his own business, not subject to the law as long as he causes no social disturbance, according to his lawyer, Yao Yong’an.

Eighteen orgies? Whoa, what are you going to tell me next, that everyone in them was consensual and enjoyed it. Oh wait, everyone probably was consensual and probably did enjoy it, that’s how swingers work.
This case reminds me of the talk I did at SXSW this year about the rate at which access to technology is growing in Asian countries where conventional norms are not changing as fast as sexual norms. The changing tide in sexual norms has been accelerated through online spaces where people can not only access pornography, but secretly connect and create online communities where they can play out their fantasies, date, meet people that are into the same thing as them sexually and then often translate those connections to real life. An important point here is just because folks can access things faster, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be doing that connecting without access to the internet. Part of the problem with internet panic is that it ignores the fact that often people want this change and they are just gaining faster access to it. Online spaces are just a reflection of the world around us, even if it is a sometimes distorted reflection.
Maybe the Chinese government will realize that, but considering global trends in panic around sexuality and the internet, I don’t see it happening any time soon. In the meantime, I guess they will unjustly incarcerate people living out their preferred sexual lifestyles.

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