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The History of Sex: Eastern World

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Fritzy Mileena V. Sanchez                                                                April 26, 2018

2015-65733                                                                           Prof. Aileen P. Mijares

The History of Sex: Eastern World

                The five-part documentary series that aired in 1999 at The History Channel discussed the worldwide diversity of sex in the curtains of its cultural beliefs. Sexual activity, in its global massive spectrum, has an underlying factor when it comes to its relevance to spirituality. The fourth part of the documentary highlighted the sexual practices that emerged and affected norms of countries like China, Japan, India, and the Middle East. China is said to focus on equilibrium in all aspects of their lives which comes close to their sexual endeavors through three schools of thought: Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. This greatly influenced its neighboring Asian country, Japan, which inherit the religion of Buddhism. However, this country already has their own sexual beliefs before embracing China’s ideals as the rise of prostitutes called Geisha and Kabuki marked a big role in their social construction. In India, known for Kama Sutra’s birthplace, most of their sexual cues were taken from their gods and goddesses like Krishna. Some were still evident in the present time where marriage is planned by the family without the knowing of either the bride or the groom. Lastly, the land of great love poems and the home of Islamic religion, the Middle East. The structure of polygamy is legal to men where he shelters all his wives in one roof with separated parts of the house and maintain equal treatment to the women, especially in sexual satisfaction.

                As a strict Catholic follower, all the said Eastern countries’ cultures were largely different to my own beliefs as far as I have learned in Christianity. I grew up recognizing the seven sacraments of the church which includes “marriage” or matrimony, where a man and a woman establish a lifetime partnership in the name of God. It is sacred and done in great preparation of both sides. However, most Eastern cultures allow polygamy, a custom of having more spouses at the same time. This practice is prevalent to all the countries stated (China, Japan, India, and Middle East) for reasons like continuity of the family’s heritage and statement of their wealth and power. In India, many marriages are arranged by families, young brides who reached puberty are obliged to leave her family and live with his in-laws and become slave for awhile. Comparing it the present setting, arranged marriage is rarely practiced anymore, men and women are given a decision of choosing the person he/she plans to marry. Jumping to a Western culture setting, marriage is easily done and terminated as most countries legalized “divorce”, a legal dissolution to married people to null their marriage. This is similar to Middle East where the married men may repeat “I divorce thee.” three times and the marriage is over, if this kind of rule remained active in the modern world, I think no marriage would ever last.

In the first minutes of the documentary, the professors would talk about how sex is equal to immortality and how a woman’s role is taken advantage of. The three schools of thought, Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism believed that sex is equal to immortality. It is said that if a man retained his semen once he will be strong, if twice his hearing and vision will be better, if thrice he can conquer all disease, and if it is ten times the man would gain immortality. Of course, no concrete evidence would say it is true however from what I picked up on this concept was sex is powerful. None of the Chinese’s goal to prolong their lineage would happen without the union of a male and female, without the use of sex, which is why I think they believed it to be essential to their spirituality. It results to procreation. Meanwhile, I observed in the documentary how all these cultures mirrored a woman’s value to a sexual being that gives babies and sexual needs. It maddens me as a woman, to be called “lacking” that has to be filled up by a man who is said to have “more in excess”. Many of the culture’s belief do not include a woman’s satisfaction and the focus was mainly how to meet the needs of the man and if there is an exception, it was for the sole purpose of procreation only. In my opinion, the only country that has given a woman equal privilege was the era of the Japanese. In the video, it is said that both the husband and wife were able to have multiple lovers and it is not viewed as infidelity. Women of Japan were also given importance when artists called “Geisha” alleviated the stigma of prostitutes. They were labeled to be “Goddesses of Mercy” that take a man’s stress away through their knowledge in the art of dancing, tea serving, and instrument playing but on rare occasions, a romantic relationship with their client. I remember watching “Memoirs of a Geisha” and I was completely mesmerized by the cinematography of how they colored the world of Geisha.

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