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A Marriage Guide and Porn Flicks
Rong Bu (Flannel)* 绒布


      Yesterday one of my old classmates, a fellow who goes by the English words "Fish Fillet", wrote an essay about adult movies. I believe he wanted even more to describe pornography's course of development.
      Some people say [as did the philosopher Hegel] that what is real is rational. I don't entirely agree with this point of view. I believe that what is real is sensible.
      I remember a dozen or so years ago, when I was a high school student, a classmate brought a book to school. For a time the whole class was in an uproar, but it wasn't really such a rare thing. It was called simply "A Must Read for Newlyweds". The student was excited and told us he'd bought it for ten RMB from a vendor at the entrance to the market. Just think what a treasure ten Yuan was in 1989 or earlier. It shows how much we students needed knowledge about being newly married.
      It wasn't so much that we needed to know about being married. We wanted to know about making love. When I was 17, I wasn't as yet clear about what making love is. That's the way kids are, after all.
      Our male classmates had various opinions on the subject, and for the time being I had the better of them. I believed that children probably came out from women's navels, and so, we could see, it would seem that it must be possible to open and close women's navels.
      One faction argued to the contrary, "Men also have navels. Thus, in your view, don't men also have the ability to bear children?"
      I laughed coldly and told them, "Having a navel doesn't necessarily mean you can give birth. For example, you have nipples. Can you suckle a child?"
      We didn't discuss the problem very long. Back then we were all vigorous and full of energy, and what we actually wanted to know was, why were we so edgy, and how could we keep from being that way? We couldn't find a reasonable answer in that "Must Read for Newlyweds" book.
      I only remember one particular item today. In one of the chapters there was a Q&A session with an expert, and someone who was very distressed asked, "I'm big and tall, but my bride is quite small. What can we do?" At the time I read that I was even more perplexed: What difference does it make if your body size is different from your bride's?
      Now I know that he must actually have been referring to the relatively large size of one part of his body, but that wretched expert hoodwinked us by using the "quote from the [ancient history book]
Spring and Autumn Annals" method. Since the writing in that book is so ambiguous, some classmates got more confused than ever.
      At the time we already knew that having children and making love had a necessary relationship, and some classmates were disappointed. "Good Lord," they said, "in our village we're only permitted two children. Doesn't that mean we can only do it twice? Wouldn't that lean on you?" In our village, "lean on" was slang for "torment".
      Later on that marriage guide got lost somehow, and the owner wasn't willing to appear wanton by making a fuss about it. I suspect that someone whose confusion hadn't been cleared up must have taken it home for in-depth study. Psychologists have said that sex is one of the primary motivators. I guess if the thief was single-minded and perplexed enough, he'd continue chipping away at the research until his fixation turned to madness. Or he'd become China's Dr. Kinsey.
      I moved in with someone when I was 18, and felt like I'd gone from primitive society to Communism overnight.
      I've only recently realized that pretending to be a virgin male is hard, and pretending to be a non-virgin male is easier. After a few years that girl asked me, "Were you a virgin back then? How could you have seemed so knowledgeable?"
      I was completely discomfited but said, "Of course I was a virgin. I'd never even held hands with anyone. If I seemed practiced it was only because I'd thought about it long and hard, and because I'm good at responding to unexpected situations quickly."
      But coming in contact with adult movies was something that happened after I got married. One day a classmate from college dropped by without letting me know he was coming. He said he wanted to let me take a look at a film. Actually he's a sly old fox. He wasn't genuinely asking me to look at anything. He came to see me with an ulterior motive, namely, he didn't have a VCR, and the movie was on video tape.
      I suspect it was one of the first generation of Chinese adult films. When we started watching it, I was so surprised I almost fell off my chair. I thought, "What's with this? What's with that? And what's with this and that?"
      We watched it silently, without saying a word. Our faces were flushed and even out ears turned red, and when it was finished, neither of us dared be the first to stand up. And that shows I had a problem. Even though I'd been living with someone for five years, I was still as pure as an angel.
      There's one more thing I remember. The main actor and actress in the film were both extremely healthy and good looking, and I believe this created somewhat of a tragedy for me. I'm far from perfect, but as far as sex is concerned, I've become a perfectionist.
      I was still renting a room at the time, and later I learned that my next-door neighbor was a porn dealer. One day he made me a very smooth sales pitch for a very reasonable price, so then I had the means to invite that classmate of mine over to watch a porn flick. I knew he was itching for it, so I made him an offer: I'd spring for the film if he'd buy me a pizza. He agreed straight off.
      He regretted it a bit when we finished watching and only reluctantly took me out to eat. We ordered a large, four-person pie. It came cut into eight pieces, which were not all the same size, and we both hoped to get what looked to be the largest slices. He wanted the largest pieces because he was buying and that would minimize his loses. Anyway, we both dug in. We ate as fast as we could so when we finished one slice, we'd be able to choose the next largest one.
      And that shows another problem. Porn movies have an effect on people, of course, but essentially the thrill only lasts five seconds. Just look how quickly my friend regretted watching.
      After that my neighbor often marketed his porn flicks to me, and I quickly learned the good and bad points of the genre. For example, Japanese films are the most perverted. Japanese people have hysterical bent towards sadism and masochism that makes your blood run cold when you watch.
      European films are relatively normal. If you're lucky, you'll see some that are aesthetically pleasing.
      The films from Hong Kong are the most repulsive. The performers are unattractive and their performances are extremely deficient. It seems like they choose to film whatever is the most ghastly. The most irritating thing is that they add music. Some films have songs by
Teresa Teng, and a dog-ugly man and woman groaning exaggeratedly on a bed to the accompaniment of "You ask how deeply I love you, and just how great is my love" is as ludicrous as anyone could ask for.
      After a few months, my neighbor turned over a new leaf. He stopped selling porn flicks and opened a small restaurant specializing in duck-noodle soup. I went there for a bowl every now and then, and his duck meat was a lot better than his movies.
      From then on, no one tried to peddle adult movies to me. I knew that a lot of dealers all over the city, shady looking characters all, made their living by selling porn, but none of them tried to pitch me. I knew I looked like a stern and righteous sort, and not only like a decent man, but also like a completely innocent one. Even today I still see myself as a decent man, as innocent as ever.
      But I often think about some strange things on nights when I'm lonely and have nothing to do. For example, why do we have such contradictory attitudes toward our sexual existence? I believe people allow youths to be sexually aware, or at least hope in their bones that they will be somewhat sexually aware, because this, after all, is one of the manifestations of the life force. But when one day people hear that some guy and girl are living together, they are immediately filled with implacable hatred.
      This makes one thing clear: People don't consider it taboo to have sexual awareness, but on the other hand, they'll use all their might to restrain you.
      To give you a very vivid example, when I signed in at the gaokao college entrance exam, my first option for a school [if I passed] was a military academy (from which I was later kicked out because of a vision problem). [This school required a physical exam,] before which we all heard something frightening. Part of the physical was a test of sexual function, and one year the Physical Exam Department had hired a young female nurse for the test. Behind a screen she'd play with your thing to see your reaction, and then she'd knock it viciously with a small hammer. Finally she'd say, "Next," with no expression at all on her face.
      Fortunately, the year we took the test, they'd changed to a male doctor. He'd just pinch you a couple of times to represent sex. But it does mean that there's a problem: This world is unfeeling. People always care more about your condition than they do about your needs.
      I suspect that this is a relatively primitive mindset. In the animal kingdom, alpha males commonly prefer to rule alone over a group of females. This is one way to insure that the breeding of the entire herd remains superior, because the reason he became the alpha male is that he was the strongest. While humans are more complicated than animals, deep in their bones they have the same selfish desire. Herein, of course, is one of the things that permeates their social consciousness. Those with the strongest appetites divide up the world amongst themselves.
      What kind of people can least be reasoned with? The first type is those with authority. They have power, and thus the right to dominate others sexually. An emperor, for example, can have a whole pile of women and can be said to be extremely promiscuous. In feudal societies promiscuity is a serious crime.
      Another type is those who don't get enough sex and are frustrated. They can't get sex, so they won't let anyone else get it either. Women who have lived as widows for several years are an example.
      And there's also the both-sides-together type, that is, people like Hitler who have the power to get sex but who still don't get it.
      There are too many indications demonstrating that this Great Satan was a homosexual but, at the same time, a self-hating homosexual. Physically he was innately frail. He seldom wore short-sleeve shirts even in blistering hot summers because he wasn't willing to let others see his slender arms. Eva [Braun] was just for show: The lover he really wanted was the handsome captain of his bodyguards.
      One of Hitler's greatest crimes was the massacre of a large number of Jews. Another was the massacre of a large number of homosexuals. What else could he do, other than preclude other people's happiness, since he was forced to repress his own emotions while living a life of pretense?
      The analysis in the famous work [Studies in] the Psychology of Sex [by Havelock Ellis] says that the more hostile one is to homosexuality, the more homosexual elements one has hidden away in one's nature. That's because other people's behavior causes one's psyche to feel much more repressed and thwarted. This is another way the longing for homosexual love manifests itself.
      The Kinsey Reports on sexology confirm an additional problem. During sexual activity, the partner you imagine in your mind might be the person making love with you, but it could also be someone else, such as a movie star or someone unfamiliar. For movie stars, it seems that the number of acceptable partners is a bit higher. But whether it's a movie star, a stranger or someone you're secretly in love with, I'd guess that many people would say your imaginings are immoral.
      In actuality, imagining a movie star and imagining a secret love are essentially the same. It's just that the former doesn't pose a threat in the real world. This can illustrate another problem: the coming together of love and sex is a good thing that's hard to achieve, but we can't disregard the reasonableness of separating the two. What sex points toward is multi-faceted. When you watch porn flicks, for example, whether you imagine you're the person who's making love right then or don't imagine anything at all, the sexual activity of a pair of strangers in itself is enough to get you exited. It satisfies quite well another sexual need, that is, the craving to be a voyeur.
      In my view, there's not much difference between watching a porn flick and being a groupie for some star. Most groupies chase after idols like Cutie [Britney Spears?], or [the boy band]
F4, or [actress and singer] Yoshino Kimura. But groupies these days have discarded the old ways of doing things: Even if they're girls, they're bold enough to talk openly about [singer and actor] Vic Chou's eyes, [singer and actor] Ekin Cheng's hair, or Yoshino Kimura's supposedly fat-free "strong body". The fact is, once you admire someone for their eyes or hair, the sexual awareness implicit in your admiration has already been announced to the world.
      What's more, when you watch a porn movie you can get satisfaction in ten minutes and then be bored.
But the satisfaction you get from being a groupie is continuous. It's being coy, always getting closer without ever being able to attain an orgasm. Further, in addition to their eyes and hair, you can concern yourself with his or her inner being. So I say that the scary thing about being a groupie is if you peek at only one of the star's attributes.
      I can make use of this essay to set out many more arguments. For example, if porn flicks had appeared in our lives earlier, we youngsters wouldn't have had stupid discussions about things like where children come from. Thus I say that sex education is one result of adult films.
      They have bad effects, too, of course, like raping your neighbor's wife if you aren't careful to keep a grip on yourself. In fact, though, porn flicks aren't to blame for such crimes, because a lot of factors can incite sexual urges. If the sight of a woman's bare thigh should happen to incite sexual urges, would you cut off her thigh? Or another example: Many people ride bicycles and some of them die from falls due to carelessness. The problem is their poor sense of balance, and can we do away with bicycles because a few people die?
      In Northern Europe, which has now developed a high level of civilization, the sex industry is not prohibited. Rather, obstructions have been cleared away. You can be a prostitute, but you have to pay tax and get physical exams on a regular basis. You can sell porn movies, but not to children, and the movies can't show rape or violent scenes. The actors must wear condoms and you must promote safe sex.
      China is different. Under an ideology which is seemingly open but in fact closed and self-protecting, there are no brothels operating openly, but there are countless filthy brothels operating underground. There's no standard sex education, just teachers who cover their faces in embarrassment, overly serious parents, and pornographic books which vendors spread out for sale on the ground.
      One day when I was out for a stroll, I saw a store selling some classic cartoon films. You can say I'm also a fan of classic cartoons, so I was happy to buy a set. When I got home and took a close look, my dear! They turned out to be cartoon porn flicks. I had to admire the artists' skills. The characters in the films were truly aesthetic, as beautiful as angels. That's when I remembered my first porn flick. The good-looking actors in it had created my perfectionist tendencies, but I guess they've gone and aged by now. Think about it. Thousands of nights dripping with sweat as they worked, teaching people of various races around the world to understand what making perfectionist love is, training group after group of perfectionists, how great a thing is that? What excuse could we have for not taking off our hats and paying our respects to them?
      But perfectionists are destined not to die good deaths. After watching that splendid, peerless cartoon movie, I knew I'd never again watch another porn flick.
In this decade, filled to overflowing with both happiness and suffering, perfection may be encountered but cannot be sought out. Appreciating things is more important than carrying them out oneself, imagining is more important than appreciating, and remembering is more important than imagining.
      And so, if you ask me to make a choice, I'd choose the first half of life and would firmly reject the last half. As individual humans, it's permissible for us to be destroyed but we should never be defeated. There will always come a time in the latter part of life when we meet defeat, but in the first part we can only be destroyed. This is my firm belief on June 27, 2002.


21世纪中国文学大系;2002年网络写作
21st Century Chinese Literature Compendium; 2002 Internet Compositions, p. 244
Translated from
http://ent.163.com/edit/020801/020801_128393.html


* [The author is a well-known writer of children's books – Fannyi]



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