Friday, May 22, 2009

A "Love Land" that will make you blush

By DeWayne Wickham

How’s this for a biting example of what goes around comes around?

Communist China, which used to delight in accusing Western societies of decadent behavior, is now struggling to deal with its own debauchery.

A few days ago, government officials in Chongqing, a city of more than 5 million people, ordered the demolition of the country’s first sex-themed amusement park.

Called “Love Land,” the park was scheduled to open in October. But after pictures of some of its attractions made their way around the Internet, government officials sent in wrecking crews to tear down the place.

Lu Xiaoqing, the park’s developer, said “Love Land” was created to improve sex awareness and to better people’s sex lives. Just how it was supposed to do that is unclear. Surely not with an oversized mannequin of a woman’s body from the waist down covered only in a red thong. But that’s what he placed atop the rotating “Love Land” sign at the park’s entrance.

And Lu couldn’t have had better sex on his mind when he put up a display of giant genitalia. Nor could he have been thinking wholesome thoughts when he affixed restroom sinks to brightly colored replicas of naked derrieres atop bare legs in high heels.

Lu said there was a lot of good stuff to see and do at his sex park, like exhibits about sex history and sessions on sex practices in other countries. But when communist officials took a close look at “Love Land,” all they saw was red (pun intended).

When it comes to decadence, China seems to be on its way to overtaking the West.

Students in the university district of Beijing, China’s bustling capital, openly line up to get three-hour time blocks in “no-tell” motels, USA TODAY reported earlier this year. The spread of these sex dens would probably prompt a blush even from Mao Zedong, China’s sexually prolific revolutionary leader who died in 1976.

Sex is the driving force of China’s latest Cultural Revolution. And with this sexual awakening has come a myriad of problems, from an increase in sexually transmitted diseases to a growing number of abortions and an increase in sex crimes.

Two recent stories in China Daily, the country’s leading English-language newspaper, highlight how China is struggling to deal with prostitution. One article reported that Yuan Li, a 37-year-old woman accused of forcing girls as young as 11 to have sex with men, faces the death penalty. But the men involved get only a slap on the wrist if prosecutors can’t prove they knew their victim was under 14.

That’s what happened to Lu Lumin, a 47-year-old a tax official in Sichuan province. He was fined $730 recently after convincing legal authorities that he didn’t know the girl he paid to have sex with was only 13. If that doesn’t make you want to holler, this should: The sentence for rapists in China is just three to 10 years if their victim is 14 or older.

China has become a major political and economic force on the world stage. But with its ascendancy, China has developed some of the same problems that afflict nations that have long shunned totalitarian government and the suppression of individual liberties.

Now, as China becomes a more open society – though hardly a bastion of democracy – it must find the social and moral balance it needs to avoid the rot that destroys countries from within long before they are toppled by outside forces.

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