- By Liz CarterLiz Carter is assistant editor at Foreign Policy's Tea Leaf Nation. She lived for several years in Beijing, China, where she wrote and translated three Chinese-English textbooks and studied contemporary Chinese literature at Peking University. Since returning to the United States, she has co-authored a book on subversive linguistic trends on the Chinese Internet and been interviewed about developments in China by the Christian Science Monitor, Forbes, the Washington Post's WorldViews, and PRI's The World.
A collection of sex education videos have just gone, ahem, viral on the Chinese Internet. On Oct. 29, a three-person team calling itself the "Nutcracker Studio" released three one-minute clips addressing tough topics in childhood sex education, such as "Where Do Babies Come From?", "Why Are Boys Different from Girls?", and (the far less lighthearted) "How Minors Can Prevent Molestation." Funded by the popular Chinese tech site Guokr, the "One-Minute Sex Ed" videos rose to become the second most popular search on Baidu, China’s largest search engine, and have drawn over one million views on Youku, China’s YouTube.
These slickly produced videos, which depict a hand drawing cartoon figures, are likely not aimed at young ones, but instead at parents searching for narratives to pass on to their children: The rapid-fire voiceovers use some high-school level vocabulary, including two bleeped cusswords hopefully outside most primary school students’ lexicon. Given a widespread reluctance to talk birds and bees — in China’s version of the stork story, parents often tell children that they were picked up "out of a garbage dump" — the video’s narrator is something of a myth-buster for the young and for the ill-informed. The language and visual illustrations have amused adult viewers with hilariously off-color comparisons: In the first video, the narrator explains insemination by comparing it to an injection received at a hospital. The second clip, "Why Are Boys Different from Girls?", addresses anatomical differences by likening male and female reproductive organs to electrical outlets and plugs. (The caption on the photo, from the second video, states: "Why does that boy have a little pee-pee and you don’t?")
Because of China’s long-standing need for accessible, accurate sex ed, young adults might also find the videos edifying. On Sept. 29 Hu Zhen, an academic specializing in sex education issues, told China’s largest state-run news agency, Xinhua, that sex education in Chinese schools lagged "at least 60 years behind" Sweden and other developed countries, and emphasized that only about ten of China’s 180,000 primary schools, and only 500 to 600 of China’s approximately 500,000 secondary schools, were providing sex ed. Three short video clips, embedded below, won’t hasten the plodding progress of sex education in China’s state system. But given the dearth of frank discourse about sex in China, Internet users there may be happy to take what they can get.