I was at dinner last week in a restaurant in Zhuhai, China when the conversation turned to sex. Along with a group of other academics from Minnesota, I was attending a teaching seminar sponsored by a university in Zhuhai. Some of the undergraduate students of this university were helping our group with translation, transportation, and other logistics.
I sat next to one of these undergraduates, a male, at dinner. We were chatting casually over Tsingtao beers, and I asked the young man what he did for fun in his spare time. He mentioned video games. I asked if he had a girlfriend, and he said “yes, of course.” Then he mentioned casually that he sometimes went with her to a budget hotel outside of the city for privacy. He said these budget sex hotels were a booming business because students did not have any privacy in the dorms and they could not afford regular hotels. I just nodded and smiled and we went on to discuss his major and career aspirations.
The conversation was so casual and off-the-cuff that I was not even sure if I understood him correctly. Or maybe he was pulling my leg? I was curious to see if I could find more information on the internet about this phenomenon and I came across this article from Radio Netherlands which seems to confirm what the student was telling me.
“China’s budget hotels used to target small business travellers, but their clientele nowadays is a rather different one. Cheap hotel rooms have become the space where the Chinese can pursue sexual freedom. Sexologist Xiaoliang Zeng writes on budget hotels and sexual liberation in China.”
I can’t say that I have been to any of these budget hotels, so my reporting is incomplete, dear reader. However, I did stay at a Howard Johnson’s hotel in Beijing, which wasn’t particularly cheap. I was a little surprised to find that my hotel room offered not only coffee, tea, and peanuts, but also this collection of condoms, “pleasure enhancers” and a “happy vibrations” toy:
Perhaps these items are now standard fare in hotels, but I have never noticed them before. Have you?
Clearly, the issue of sex, hotels, and China is one that needs more investigative reporting and perhaps a detailed sociological analysis. Perhaps I should apply for a research grant so I can enlighten the world further on this subject….