Sex, Lies, and Videos in Rural China: A Qualitative Study of Women’s Sexual Debut and Risky Sexual Behavior
Bo Wang, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Pamela R. Davidson, George Washington University
This paper attempts to understand the sexual behaviors of young, unmarried women in rural China with a special focus on intercourse debut, sexual risk-taking behaviors, and reproductive health consequences. Data derived from forty in-depth interviews with young women who had undergone induced abortion were supplemented with information from focus groups and key informant interviews. Factors that prompt young women to engage in intercourse for the first time include pornographic videos and parents’ tacit approval and even encouragement. Spontaneous sexual activity, lack of negotiation skills, and misconceptions about fertility and the effective use of contraceptives are factors that lead to unprotected intercourse. Risky sexual behavior and lack of protection often cause serious reproductive tract infections. The results indicate the importance of making reproductive health education more accessible to rural populations in China, a group usually considered to be more traditional and less likely to engage in premarital sex.