How many homosexuals exist among college students in China? How many Chinese college students have ever faced sexual harassment?

At present, there is a relatively clear answer to these questions.

On May 3, 2020, the China Family Planning Association, the China Youth Network, and the Public Health Research Center of Tsinghua University jointly released the National Survey report on sexual and Reproductive Health of College students from 2019 to 2020.

This is a rare super-large sample social investigations related to sex in Chinese academic circles.

Between November 2019 and February 2020, 54580 students from 1764 universities across the country filled out relevant questionnaires online, and the final data are presented in the report.

You can find the full text of the report here, but it is in picture format and is in Chinese. In this article, we will choose some interesting data and findings to share.

77.28% of heterosexuals and 6.46% of “uncertain orientation”

The investigation report shows that Chinese college students have multiple sexual orientations.

Specifically, among the respondents, 77.28% were heterosexual, 8.92% bisexual, 4.58% homosexual, 1.22% universal, 0.6% asexual and 0.94% others.

You may have noticed that the sum of these numbers is not equal to 100%, because 6.46% of people choose “uncertainty”. This is unusual because the respondents should be all adults, and they should have experienced the exploration stage of sexual orientation.

There was no expounding for this phenomenon in the report. A possible explanation is that some of the students are unwilling to admit their sexual orientation.

About love and marriage: first love at about 16.22 years old, marriage at 27.

As expected, the number of people who have been in love at least once increased with age.

In the first year of undergraduate students, 56.97% of the total respondents have been in love, and this number has risen to 92.28% of doctoral students.

The average age of first love was 16.22, including 16.17 for boys and 16.27 for girls. This means that most of the respondents met their first love around the first year of high school.

According to the report, college students generally believed that marriage was not an essential stage of life.

Among the students, 73.1% thought that “let nature take its course, there will be suitable people to get married. Otherwise, it is OK not to get married.”

This shows that most Chinese college students have abandoned the concept of “must get married” in traditional Chinese culture, yet 18.34% of them still choosed “I want to get married, people must get married anyway.”

Another 5.45% of the respondents chosed “do not want to get married and can accept cohabitation.” The remaining 3.11% said they prefered to be single and did not want to marry or keep company with others.

As for the ideal age of marriage, for men was 27.57 years old, and for women was 27.15, with little difference. Most respondents who were willing to get married believed that the best time to get married was between the ages of 27 and 28. However, it should be noted that the age range of the respondents were about 18-24 years old, which meant that most of them did not seriously considered getting married yet.

64.58% of people could accept premarital sex, of which the agreed proportion of men was much higher (75.14%) than women (55.03%). Unmarried cohabitation also had a high degree of acceptance, 71.83% of people said that they could accept such a relation.

In contrast, Chinese college students were less receptive to one-night stand. Only 32.27% of men and 12.05% of women said that they could accept this kind of relation. However, this concept disappeared with age. Only 14.6% of first-year students accepted one-night stand, while by seniors, acceptance rosed to 31.55%.

About browsing “sexual information”

In this chapter, the report describes how Chinese college students acquire sex-related information, including sexual knowledge and pornographic content.

According to the investigation, 68.44% of college students actively searched for sexual knowledge, while 31.56% did not, which was similar to the proportion of active search for pornographic content.

57.4% of people have never mentioned sex-related topics with their parents, 83.96% have never received any sexual knowledge from their fathers, and 73.8% have never acquired any sexual knowledge from their mothers. 

However, 52.04% of people had participated in the school’s sexual education courses at the previous stage (primary, junior high or senior high school).

Most of the respondents did not get sexual education from their parents.

65.19% of students actively searched for pornographic information on the Internet (including pornographic comics, novels, pictures, movies, and other genres), while 34.81% did not do so.

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In the classification of pornographic information, porn was expected to be popular, with 52.08% of students saying they watched porns in recent years. On the other hand, the percentage of prefering pornographic novels was smaller only 36.47%. There were also 42.28% of people who never not read pornographic novels.

In this section, the authors pointed out that these figures might indicated the relatively low level of sexual education for Chinese minors. In reality, some minors regard pornographic content as the primary source of sexual knowledge, and this situation needs to be improved.

Sex behavior: 11.69% of people never reached the best part of sex

According to the survey, the age of masturbation for the first time is 14.66, however, 36.12% said they never masturbated. Given the shame of masturbation in traditional views, this figure might not reflect the real situation.

The average age of first sexual intercourse was 18.52, and there was no significant difference between men and women.

Respondents once had an average of 3.14 sexual partners, with 3.78 sexual partners for men and 2.3 sexual partners for women. This did not mean that the interviewees had multiple sexual partners at the same time, but the sum of the sexual partners they used to have.

The number of people who had penetrative sex at least once increased with the increase with age. For freshmen, only 11.87% were involved in penetrative sex, rising to 52.85% in seniors.

But this trend was interrupted by doctorates. According to the report, 70.21% of graduate students had sexual experiences, but only 66.15% among doctoral students did. This indicated that there were more people who had no sexual experiences among doctorial students, camparing with undergraduates and masters.

In addition, 11.69% of the respondents had never reached the orgasm, while another 11.64% did not know what orgasm is. Among people who have not experienced orgasm or did not know what it was, the number of women was higher than men.

Sexual assault: 34% of respondents experienced verbal sexual harassment.

In this report, sexual harassment and sexual assault were also investigated, and the results were not optimistic.

Accroding to the data, the degree of sexual harassment and sexual assault was divided into five levels: “verbal sexual harassment on the Internet”, “verbal sexual harassment in reality”, “ridiculed by classmates because of secondary sexual development”, “forced to take off clothes or expose sexual organs”, “forced to touch sexual organs”, “forced oral sex” and “forced penetrative sex”.

In the two mildest levels, the scale of harassment was similar: 34% of people had received verbal sexual harassment both on the Internet and in reality.

The proportion of respondents who were “ridiculed by classmates because of secondary sexual development” was also relatively high, accounting for 23.33%. Among them, the proportion of women was even higher, accounting for 27%.

1.78% people considered they had been forced to engage in penetrative sex.

It is worth mentioning that of all types of sexual harassment, only one had a higher proportion of men than women. More men were “forced to take off their clothes or expose their sexual organs”. However, there was no distinction between “undressing” and “exposing sexual organs” in the research options, which might be because men’s topless was not considered as taboo.

In terms of the sources of sexual harassment and abuse, data shows that 46.05% of sexual harassment and abuse come from “classmates or friends (not couples)”. In second place is the “couple and spouse” (Similar to marital rape), which may mean that the rule of “sexual consent” may not be well popularized among Chinese college students couple.

It is also worth noting that the data shows that men are more likely to be sexually harassed in the workplace than women.

Data shows that men are more likely to be sexually harassed in the workplace than women.

Almost all sources of sexual harassment and abuse are more harmful to women, but only “bosses” and “colleagues” are more harmful to men. 1.2% of the sexual harassment of men came from bosses, and 1.59% of the sexual harassment of men came from colleagues, which were only 0.29% and 1.22% on the female side.

The original report is divided into six chapters.

The first chapter describes the demographic characteristics of the survey samples, the second chapter describes the performance of mate selection and love, and the third chapter describes the sexual education process accepted by Chinese college students. The fourth chapter describes the interviewees’ sexual knowledge and attitude, the fifth chapter describes the interviewees’ sexual experiences and behaviors, and the sixth chapter describes sexual harassment and sexual assault.

This article is only an excerpt from a small part of the report. If you want to know more, you can find the full text of the report on China Youth Network’s Weibo. However, the report is published in the form of a picture and is not available in English.