Premarital sex shows signs of casting off its taboo

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2011, 12:00am


'Premarital sex? I'm absolutely fine with it.' Maybe the best proof that a social taboo no longer applies is when a celebrity idol like Yumiko Cheng dares to say it openly as she did yesterday.

The statement coincided with a survey released jointly by RTHK and Shue Yan University that found almost half the respondents shared Cheng's view.

What is more, 40 per cent of the women polled said they actually did it. 'This is the highest figure I can remember,' said gender studies professor Helene Fung Hoi-lam of the Chinese University, saying it was not something local women would admit to. Society was now more receptive to females having sex before getting married, Fung said, due in part to better contraception.

The survey - which targeted 502 women aged 18 to 40 last month - also revealed the women's deeper dissatisfaction with their men.

Thirty per cent of them said their partners were economically worse-off than themselves, although more than half of the respondents said they would consider financial status when defining an 'ideal' partner.Women were also not shy about infidelity. About 35 per cent said they had attempted 'ambiguous relationships' with another man when they were in a relationship. Another 16 per cent said they had had an 'affair'.

Such figures, experts say, reflect progressive feminist autonomy.

'Although we talk about sex equality, dependence is always there,' said Wan Kwok-fai, a communications lecturer at Shue Yan University. 'We can say this shows progress in terms of the practice of equality. Women can decide whom to have fun with up until marriage.'

'There's just one thing in the report I can't agree with,' said Sophia Kao Ching-chi, chairperson of the Women's Commission. 'It says women would, at the end of the day, rely on men. But isn't it equally true that men would also rely on women, ultimately? Logically, the two ideas make sense.'


The percentage of respondents in a mainland survey in 2005 of 1,040 young urban people who said premarital sex was good for married life