Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: China, Family, Marriage, Children, Policy, Society, Love, Relationships

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/02/25

[Submission Date]

It is widely acknowledged that the contemporary Chinese society is probably the most noteworthy society throughout history that has undergone extensive and comprehensive changes in a short time period (Brown 140). In the similar fashion, the present-day modern and urbanized China has also experienced significant changes in its norms, attitude, and customs concerning sexuality, marriage, and divorce. A number of these changes are supported by the governmental authorities. On the other hand, many changes took place regardless of government’s redirecting efforts. It is worth-mentioning that numerous revolutionary movements in the last sixty years have brought momentous changes in Chinese society. The most significant among them are Communist Revolution (1949), the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), and the economic reform (1978). Thus, the norms of sex and marriage have been significantly affected in contemporary China due to major changes in the societal patterns followed by several revolutions in the country.

Changes in China’s Marriage Traditions and Sex Norms

During Mao’s reign, Chinese people were encouraged to have high fertility rates as large families were traditionally preferred. Mao favored a huge population and his proposed policies affected the country tremendously as the population of China crossed the billion-mark by 1980 from four hundred million in 1930. However, the Chinese government realized the seriousness of the overpopulation menace and introduced the “One-Child Policy” in 1979 as a measure to control the country’s population. This policy required Chinese families to have one child only unless they belonged to an ethnic marginal group. As far as the advantages of this policy is concerned, it is estimated that the One-Child Policy has prevented the country to reach 2 billion –mark by 2015. However, this policy is largely criticized as well due to the increased rates of infanticide and abortions (both intentional and forceful) (Brown 142).
It is to be noted that despite the controversies, One-Child Policy has profoundly impacted the family structure in China as families now have just one child instead of 6-8 children. In other words, this policy encouraged a 0-population growth with a drastic impact on the entire structure of family life in China. In addition, phenomena such as “six-pocket household” and “little emperors and empresses” have appeared. The little emperors and empresses is a term used to refer to the spoiled and selfish only-children as their family members (parents and grandparents) give them the best available resources. It is acknowledged that excessive parental indulgence in the life on an only child makes him/her a little emperor in its own context. On the other hand, six-pocket household is actually considered a syndrome whereby parents and both maternal and paternal spend money lavishly on the ‘only’ child ultimately spoiling him/her.
The passage of Marriage Law in 1950 allowed the formal legalization of free-choice marriages in China. As a tradition, Chinese society preferred arrange marriages whereby it was the responsibility of parents and matchmakers to choose the life partner for their children. In particular, a female could not select her life companion. After marriage, females were obliged to follow their husbands always. However, the contemporary Chinese society has witnessed a significant change in such traditions since the introduction and implementation of 1950 Marriage Law. In addition, the swift improvements in the social status of women have also affected marriage behaviors in the country (Xie 4).
In traditional China, status hypergamy was one of the most widespread practices whereby women were inclined towards marrying men who belonged to the higher social class. It is notable that the said cultural norm is still prevalent in contemporary China. However, there has been a tremendous transformation in mate selection from being arranged by parents to being love-marriages. In the previous times, women achieved hypergamy by marrying males who had attained higher education. As this education gap has been closed by the contemporary Chinese women, it has become rather difficult to achieve hypergamy on the basis of education. As an alternative, it is easily observable that there is now “a trend of increases in the age gap between husband and wife so as to allow prospective husbands to accumulate more economic resources than prospective wives of similar education” (Xie 5). In the same connection, the contemporary Chinese society has also experienced noteworthy educational, economic, and political changes that have altogether altered Chinese family life. It is also reported that a large majority of Chinese parents in the current times, especially those who are educated, no longer pledge to the conventional Chinese value to uphold family ancestry and lineage (Xie 4).It is also not an untold secret that the marriage attitudes and behaviors in the Chinese society are now increasingly affected by the West. These affects are mirrored in the increase in later marriage, divorce rates, and levels of cohabitation. Nevertheless, a good majority of extended families still characterize the Chinese society whereby elderly parents and grandparents live with their sons.
The contemporary China is also challenged with the huge gap between males and females population. In fact, the country does not have enough females for men to marry due to the one-child policy. In fact, the mentioned policy is anticipated to form a male generation without enough women populations with whom they can tie the knot. It is estimated that by 2020, about 40 million men in China will be left unmarried due to inadequate females. A lot of anthropologists assume that this state of affairs may have a negative impact on China’s male population. Their aggressiveness as a result of bachelorism may also lead to trafficking and kidnapping of women in the near future.


In my opinion, the changes in norms of sex and marriage in China have both positive and negative impacts. As far as the positive aspects are concerned, it is a great thing that women in contemporary China have been granted equal rights in every sphere of life. As educating a female is equivalent to educating an entire generation, such changes are expected to bring further advancements in Chinese society.
On the other hand, the one-child policy and similar measures are rather controversial as they have impacted the overall family structure in China. In fact, this revolutionary policy “has produced significantly less trusting, less trustworthy, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic, and less conscientious individuals” (Cameron, Erkal, Gangadharan, & Meng 953) in the modern Chinese society. I strongly believe that Chinese government and citizens need to realize the long-term consequences of the rapid socio-cultural changes in the contemporary times. Both modernization and urbanization have raised the expectations of Chinese people regarding their spouses. In addition, the practices such as hypergarmy have continued. If left unchecked and uncontrolled, such changes may inflict serious repercussions for the coming generations.

Works Cited

Brown, Kerry. Contemporary China. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.
Cameron, L., N. Erkal, L. Gangadharan, and X. Meng. "Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China's One-Child Policy." Science 339.6122 (2013): 953-57. Print.
Xie, Y. "Gender and Family in Contemporary China." PSC. Population Studies Center, 1 Oct. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <>.

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2021, February, 25) Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples. Retrieved July 01, 2022, from
"Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples." WePapers, 25 Feb. 2021, Accessed 01 July 2022.
WePapers. 2021. Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples., viewed July 01 2022, <>
WePapers. Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples. [Internet]. February 2021. [Accessed July 01, 2022]. Available from:
"Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples." WePapers, Feb 25, 2021. Accessed July 01, 2022.
WePapers. 2021. "Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved July 01, 2022. (
"Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples," Free Essay Examples -, 25-Feb-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Jul-2022].
Norms Of Sex And Marriage In Contemporary China Essay Samples. Free Essay Examples - Published Feb 25, 2021. Accessed July 01, 2022.

Share with friends using:

Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.

If you need an original paper created exclusively for you, hire one of our brilliant writers!

Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now