The Future of Sex workshop attendees referred to sex as a “single base”. Sex was left to a coy hint to be expanded in the mind only rather than through verbal description, even in the excitement of story exchanges.

There was a comparison of Western and Eastern understand around Baseball metaphors:

Western understanding (according to Wikipedia)

  • First base – mouth-to-mouth kissing
  • Second base – touching or kissing…other erogenous zones while clothed.
  • Third base – manual or oral stimulation of the genitals.
  • Fourth base (Home run) – full sexual intercourse.
Chinese understanding (according to the workshop)
  • 一垒、First base – hand holding
  • 二垒、Second base – kissing
  • 三垒Third base – body contact best described as “embracing”
  • 全垒打Fourth base (Home run) – sex

The mysteries around technical preferences deepens, putting an emphasis on one’s ability to explore the vagueness in the private enclosure of one’s own mind. This lead to a strand of insights about how people have evolved their sexual identities in a role without explicit ways of communication.

The experienced virgin

Many of the  heterosexual male participants emphasised a common desire of the ‘experienced virgin’ -someone who was physically inexperienced in bed but would have the anatomical understanding of a person with ‘exceptional performance’ and experience. (At this point I exercised the discipline of being a neutral host.)

In answer to this contradiction, most of the heterosexual girls expressed that the more she liked a sexual partner, the less sexually expressive she would be in bed and use her experience to practice appearing less experienced.

The ritualisation around Home Run:

A lot of attention was put to the personal stories of social awkwardness of before and after sex. The tools and activities for the workshop were trying to capture either emotional, spiritual or at least aesthetic preparations but instead received practical observations. After deeper questioning, however, these rational jesters disguised unspoken feelings.

For example, a participant used the following phrase for a disagreeable mate: “洗洗睡吧” meaning literally, “wash wash sleep”, a common phrase gesturing that one should end the evening’s activities.

The etiquette of leaving the bedside

One of the girls eagerly insisted on the importance of leaving a glass of water near the bedside table, which became the subject of much teasing.

A poetic Chinese term for homosexual men is 断袖, cut sleeve. The story of the cut sleeve describes the traditional Chinese acceptance for homosexuality. It tells of an ancient Emperor who needed to go to the bathroom but adored his male concubine, who was asleep and laying on the Emperor’s sleeve. The Emperor resorted to cut off his own sleeve to avoid waking his loved one.

The story stirred a fashion statement amongst the courtiers of the time and is now a reference of passion in homosexuality. Both water narrative (extremely rational) and the cut sleeve story (somewhat extravagant) are descriptions of how love and passion in the Chinese are expressed through consideration and in this case care towards avoiding social awkwardness in leaving the bedside.

Written by Lisa Ma

Lisa Ma socializes activism. Combining ethnographic research and speculative design, Lisa creates platforms of engagement from surprising insights and processes that deeply resonate with the global technological community. The emergence of clicktivism – to protest at the click of a mouse – is trivializing activism. Lisa argues that although activism doesn’t necessarily benefit from technology, we need to evolve how activism contributes to technological societies. To illustrate this, she designs dilemmas and creates social events that are perceived as activism but function as services.

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