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Making a Meal of It: Sex in Chinese and Western Cultural Settings by Jui-shan Chang

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Making a Meal of It shines a revealing light on contemporary sexual understandings, mores, and behaviours in Chinese and Western societies. Based on twenty years of original comparative research, this book argues that embedded meanings of sex remain fundamentally different between the two cultures-despite decades of loosening premarital sexual mores in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan that appear to be converging with those in the West.

Through surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews and the study of cultural artefacts, Dr. Jui-shan Chang finds that the Chinese primarily understand sex as a "meal for sustenance", while Westerners relate to sex as a "game" for individual recognition, validation, and completion. In the West sex is not what you do but rather who you are; for Chinese, sex is not who you are but what you do-in relation to familial duties. Emerging out of those differences the author has developed a unique and profound perspective on sex that spans the two cultures.

Making a Meal of It explores:

-Why the conventional, Western perspective of modernization is inadequate in understanding Chinese sexuality

-How a cross-cultural, sociological approach can locate Western and Chinese sexual practices at a more fundamental level

-How "recognition" closely tied to sex in the contemporary West is crucial to understanding the predicaments of self and relationships

-The notion of a trans-cultural wisdom bank, a repository of possible solutions to recurrent problems in sex and relationships faced by individuals from all cultures

A sweeping and ambitious effort, Making a Meal of It: Sex in Chinese and Western Cultural Settings is a major contribution with implications for how we understand sex, self identity, gender, relationships, marriage, family and culture.

Amazon Summary

It is hard to talk too much about this nonfiction book's contents without giving away too much.  The reader will find him or herself confronted with two different cultures: Chinese and Western.  The author believes there are fundamental differences between the two as far as sex goes.  The two cultures regard the act differently, interpreting it very differently. 

The reader will likely be swayed to see the author's point of view.  She presents her information and results very logically, it is easy to comprehend-a quality that is important in a nonfiction book aimed at research.  The author includes real life examples, stories from others-this adds to the book, makes it seem like others are weighing in on the subject.  The epilogue contains poems more or less about the subject of the book, many readers may enjoy these after reading through the book. 

I found the book very informative, intriguing.  The author is very good at stating the information clearly.  This book is recommended to adult readers who are interested in different cultural perceptions of sex.

4 Stars

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