Propriety, empowerment and compromise: challenges in addressing gender among sex educators in China


Wang Xiying, co-author (with Pengfei Zhao, Li Yang, and Zhihong Sa)

in Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning, January 2020

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Abstract: Although the past two decades have witnessed the substantial development of sex education in mainland China, Chinese society at large is both conservative and silent in addressing sex-related issues, especially with children and adolescents. Against this background, how do Chinese sex educators understand gender, sexuality and sexuality education, and how do they put their understandings into practice? In this article, we explore these questions through semi-structured interviews with seven national sexuality education leaders, and focus group discussions with eight practitioners. We employed critical reconstructive analysis to examine these educators’ normative claims and value orientations regarding gender, sexuality and the teaching of sexuality education. We generatively reconstructed three types of sex educators – the conventionals, the forerunners and the compromisers, and explain the cultural resources they implicitly draw on to justify their stance. The article then discusses the three types of sex educators’ action orientations in relation to structural constraints and implicit understandings of agency.

About the author: Wang Xiying was a HYI Visiting Scholar from 2019-20.