Visitors try to get a glimpse of Love Land, billed as China's first-ever sex theme park
Maybe it was the giant revolving model of a woman's legs and lower torso, clad only in an unflattering crimson thong, or perhaps it was the oversized replica of a set of genitals. Either way, many residents in the south-west city of Chongqing are not happy about the development of China's first sex theme park, which has been described as "vulgar" and inappropriate.
The park manager, Lu Xiaoqing, who was inspired by South Korea's popular sex theme park in Jeju, says that Love Land, due to open in October, will improve sex education and help adults enjoy a harmonious sex life. Inside, visitors will be able to view naked human sculptures, giant replicas of genitals and an exhibition about the history of sex and sexual practices in other countries.
The park will also offer sex technique workshops and advise on anti-Aids measures and using condoms properly.
"Sex is a taboo subject in China but people really need to have more access to information about it," Lu told the state newspaper China Daily.
"We are building the park for the good of the public. I have found that the majority of people support my idea, but I have to pay attention and not make the park look vulgar and nasty."
But Liu Daiwei, a female police officer in Chongqing, complained: "These things are too exposed. I will feel uncomfortable looking at them when other people are around."
A commenter on the popular Sina website said Chinese people did not treat sex as boldly as foreigners, adding: "These vulgar sex installations will only make people sick."
But another commenter said Chinese people needed sex education, promising: "I will visit the park when I go to Chongqing."
Li Yinhe, an expert on sexual attitudes at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that in ancient times Chinese people had more positive attitudes towards sex. They became more ascetic during the Song and Ming dynasties, but this trend peaked at the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Since the 80s that had reversed, she said, adding: "The fact that the park has been built shows the change and that open attitudes to sex are now mainstream." One of her research projects showed that in Beijing the percentage of people having premarital sex rose from under 16% in 1989 to over 60% in 2004.
Li said that while disapproval of sex stemmed from religion in the west, in China it was largely rooted in a traditional focus on the family instead of individual enjoyment – leading people to deplore premarital and extramarital sex.
"But people will become more tolerant and have positive attitudes towards sex; for example, people [already] care more about female orgasm. I read a report saying in the west about 90% of women have experienced orgasm, but in China the number is only 28%," she said.