Childish self-consciousness meets adult (sub)consciousness. What started out as an innocent drawing of the California Shasta Dam, with a huge, winding river and a massive flood gate, due to some sudden, impromptu strokes of my chalk, turned out to be quite a sizable, well, penis.
Oh, yes, and this wasn’t with one of my primary school groups where nobody’d have noticed a thing because they’re too occupied with their given Apple product under their desks, but I was facing a bunch of sparkly-eyed 17-year olds, who would see innuendos into anything. So, naturally, they did notice so they clicked immediately. First, they laughed at my clumsy attempt to depict this certain technological breakthrough of a modern irrigation system, then quickly turned all their attention to my spectacular blushing. I was flooded with embarrassment.
What I find most interesting here, (nah, not my subconscious acting up publicly as these kinds of things had happened before and will again, I’m pretty sure) is how these scalawags reacted. So normal, after all! ‘Xcuse my prejudice. Sure, at this age all they have in mind is their hormone-driven thoughts and desires. But. In China, and I’ve had so many conversations about this, people’s general attitude to sex and private parts is very different. All throughout a child’s education, from primary to university, there’s no single biology class on human genitals, or if there is, the class is temporarily divided and girls learn about female parts while boys learn about male parts of the body.
I’ve met, not only teenagers and young adults, but many 40-50 year olds as well, who are rather disgusted by the whole idea of nudity and sex. They are quick to label anything “yellow” (pornographic) that has, even remotely, something to do with their idea of taboo. Sure, fine, keep these lambs innocent as long as possible, but how about opening up to the idea that a human touch (including holding hands as some believe) does not serve the idea of reproduction. This approach, stemming from general repression and naiveté, harmoniously aligns with the government’s ideology, too, boasting how pure Chinese society is. There’s absolutely no need to watch anything that might be remotely vulgar, so let’s just chuck these X-rated stuff over the Great Wall. Ooh, there’s some Japanese clips? No problemo, that’s different – “those guys are crazy”.
Bueno. These kids in my class – they have the spirit! Finally my theory got defied that Chinese kids sometimes act like robots and totally repress animal instincts. China is changing indeed. What’s more, after a few minutes of hearty laughter, I was able to continue my lesson plan on American agriculture.