Sex in the Hong Kong city [with the necessary apologies for this title]

It’s been over 3 months since my first, triumphant blog post. As
no-one expected, I neglected to tell you what happened next. Given my
loquacious nature, that in itself could take longer than 3 months,
until I spend all my time telling you about how I’m telling you what
I’m telling you. And no-one — in this case for real — wants that.

So instead I’ll gently get back into the swing of things. What better
way to pick up your interest than appealing to your prurience?

HK made an all-too-rare appearance in the international news headlines
recently with claims of producing the world’s first ever 3D porn movie. Never mind that its originality is
probably in question; the point is that this film was indeed made
here, and went on to make lots of money here and in other parts of
Asia. (It made more money in its opening weekend compared than Avatar
did in its. Not that I’m too sad about that). It is now being touted at the famous Cannes film festival, probably
for international distribution. You have now been warned.

So am I living in a veritable hotpot of sin, which at any moment could
boil over into unseemly public orgies? (I’m actually mixing metaphors
there, in case you didn’t notice. No pun intended, and I don’t think
any pun was made anyway). To this day Hong Kong is still seen by many
Westerners, especially older American men, as a place for R&R,
exemplified by Suzie Wong.

But perhaps not. Contrast the situation with the one portrayed by the
following snippet of an article from the South China Morning Post of
the 16th of February, 2011:

Subsidy lifts status of unwed couples, critics say

Fears that the legal standing of cohabiting partners could be
strengthened have been stoked by a government plan that would allow
“two-person households” to apply for transport subsidies, regardless
of marital status.

The scheme, whose funding will be voted on by lawmakers on Friday,
would allow couples who together earn less than HK$10,000 a month to
apply for the subsidy. Each would receive HK$600 a month.

Critics ranging from religious groups to social workers said the
scheme set a bad precedent, with some raising the possibility of gay
couples getting government benefits.

Some senior officials said they had not intended to open the gates to
cohabiting partners; they were only trying to include more people in
the $HK4.3 billion programme.

One senior government official said: “I have not been told the
government’s general policy on unmarried couples has changed.”

The director of the Catholic Diocese’s social communications office,
Dominic Yung, said the move “could be dangerous”.

“The church’s position on this issue is very firm,” Yung said, “that
unmarried couples should not be recognised the same as married
couples. Officials should be more careful on this and should not rush
through this scheme hastily.”


A similar controversy erupted in 2009 when officials tried to include
same-sex couples in the Domestic Violence Ordinance.

With religious and gay groups deadlocked, officials renamed the bill
the Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Violence Ordinance and
used a gender-neutral definition of cohabitation.

And indeed, the UK consulate here refuses to register civil partnerships, a.k.a. “gay marriages”, because

We consulted the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) to ask if there were any objections to the British Consulate-General Hong Kong registering civil partnerships of eligible same-sex couples under this legislation. The HKSARG has informed us that it does not consider it appropriate to agree to the registration of civil partnerships of same-sex couples at the British Consulate-General Hong Kong at present.

The answer to the riddle, in my humble and probably too-expattified
opinion, is that while there is a strong tendency towards paternalism
and prudishness from the Government and other members of the “elite”,
mostly Hong Kong just really is a relatively conservative society. The
3D sex movie did well precisely because it was unusual, and not
particularly explicit either. If one considers advertisements to be a
good indicator of societal mores, then their relative lack of sexiness
seems to provide further evidence. [Obviously I’ve been observing them
closely. And no, the ubiquitous advertisements for breast enlargement
don’t count.]

Furthermore, apparently 183 teenagers aged below 18 gave birth in 2006, while in the UK the figure in 2007 was 42,988, despite having a population only about
10 times as large. But here I’m not sure how good teenage pregnancy is
as a way of measuring conservatism in matters sexual. I’ll leave my
cod social science there.

Instead, let’s end this liaison with the following observation: apparently “most
hardcore material [in Hong Kong] actually comes from Japan, because
Chinese men tend to like Japanese women more in these kinds of films,
since they usually have bigger busts and are more vocal during sexual
scenes.” Obviously I wouldn’t know. Your mileage may vary.