Sex as a Ritual: Transforming Women’s Sexual Being from “Human-like” to “Animal-like” in Taiwan’

Heung Wah WONG, Hoi Yan YAU

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper aims to explicate the cultural meaning of sex in the Chinese society of Taiwan with reference to marriage in the Chinese kinship system in Taiwan. Through an examination of how Taiwanese informants talk about sex and their sexual behaviours, we demonstrate that their discourse on sex involves not only the notion of active-male/passive-female but also a symbolic transformation of the ‘human-like’ woman into an ‘animal-like’ man. This is arguably the core meaning of sex in Taiwan: sex is a ritual through which women’s sexual beings are symbolically transformed from ‘human-like’ into ‘animal-like’. As we shall show, the transformative nature of sex has a significant parallel with the logic of marriage in Chinese kinship system in Taiwan. In other words, there is a significant parallel between marriage in kinship system and sexual discourses in Taiwan. In conclusion, we shall spell out the epistemological implications of this parallel to the studies of Chinese societies: the relevance of kinship studies to the understanding of Chinese societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-55
JournalEast Asia: An International Quarterly
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

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kinship
religious behavior
Taiwan
marriage
animal
sexual behavior
discourse
society
woman
examination

Cite this

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Sex as a Ritual: Transforming Women’s Sexual Being from “Human-like” to “Animal-like” in Taiwan’. / WONG, Heung Wah; YAU, Hoi Yan.

In: East Asia: An International Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 1, 03.2011, p. 37-55.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

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AB - This paper aims to explicate the cultural meaning of sex in the Chinese society of Taiwan with reference to marriage in the Chinese kinship system in Taiwan. Through an examination of how Taiwanese informants talk about sex and their sexual behaviours, we demonstrate that their discourse on sex involves not only the notion of active-male/passive-female but also a symbolic transformation of the ‘human-like’ woman into an ‘animal-like’ man. This is arguably the core meaning of sex in Taiwan: sex is a ritual through which women’s sexual beings are symbolically transformed from ‘human-like’ into ‘animal-like’. As we shall show, the transformative nature of sex has a significant parallel with the logic of marriage in Chinese kinship system in Taiwan. In other words, there is a significant parallel between marriage in kinship system and sexual discourses in Taiwan. In conclusion, we shall spell out the epistemological implications of this parallel to the studies of Chinese societies: the relevance of kinship studies to the understanding of Chinese societies.

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