China's Most Famous Swinger Could Get Five Years in Prison

Ma Yaohai, a 53-year-old college professor, was arrested along with 21 other people and put on trial for "group licentiousness," which is just a multi-syllabic way of saying "sex parties." He now faces up to five years in jail.

Yaohai, who organized the orgies using the excellent screen name "bighornyfire," was the only member of the 14-man, eight-woman group to plead innocent to the charges. His case has become a flashpoint for those arguing for greater sexual freedom in China, according to the AP:

His trial highlights the vast social changes that China has undergone in the decades since it embraced economic reform. "Sex liberation stymied by law," trumpeted a front-page article in the official China Daily, which ran an in-depth piece that questioned whether China's laws on sexual behavior are lagging behind the times.

Chinese attitudes toward sex have changed dramatically during the last 20 years, said sociologist Li Yinhe, China's most prominent sex expert. Even a generation ago, holding hands and kissing in public were virtually unheard of. These days, studies indicate that 60 to 70 percent of Chinese have had sex before marriage, up from 15 percent in 1989.

The AP indicates divided support for Yaohai, especially along an urban/rural divide, though apparently a majority of Chinese people think that, at the very least, the punishment should not be so severe.

Meanwhile, "sex motels cater to college students who rent by the hour, pornography is widely available on the Internet, and radio and TV shows devoted to sex advice are highly popular." As far as I can tell from this article, China is basically just like the U.S., now, with a hyper-sexualized urban media culture and a a way more judgmental rural conservative backlash. Soon, they will have a Miley Cyrus all their own!

Except for the big difference, which is you can get locked up for five years for having a sad internet swinger party. It could be worse, though: In the early 1980s, a woman who participated in secret dance parties was sentenced to death.

[AP]