Making a Meal of It: Sex in Chinese and Western Cultural Settings, by Dr. Jui-shan Chang, sheds light on contemporary sex, behaviors, and social mores in both the West and China. Urbanization, increased education, economic growth and changing family structures brought about premarital sex in Taiwan from 1980 onward. Traditional Chinese norms recognized sexual intercourse in marriage.
Modern trends provided for increased personal autonomy for women. An adjunct was increased premarital sexual intimacy. Women who dated future husbands were more likely to have premarital sex. Virginity was espoused by all groups of unmarried Taiwanese men as the ideal .
Openness, egalitarianism, gender equality, and personal autonomy are seen as irreversible global trends. For Taiwanese, modern womanhood mediates Chinese and Western values. Change has evolved from arranged marriages to greater premarital sexual intimacy. Those who have harmonious relations with others are seen as achieving inner peace. The classic five Confucian cardinal relations are the emperor-subordinate, father-son, older brother-younger brother, husband-wife and friend-friend.
Male homosexuality in historical China was tolerated if men married and had children or if they were from the upper class or royalty. The implementation of agony resolution is considered a fork in the road. The reliant woman resolves the agony by looking inward to herself. Affairs undermine individual esteem which is driven by circumstance to re-validate the marriage and dissolve back into familial expectations.
Filial piety or xiaoshun is considered a serious responsibility to care for elderly parents. Chinese would like to use Western skills to pursue Chinese dreams of raising a happy family, caring for elderly parents and getting the best education for the children. The ideal self in China emphasizes reciprocal duties and obligations to others in contrast to the rugged individualism experienced in the West and the U.S. in particular.
Overall, Making a Meal of It has a wealth of information which contrasts Chinese and Western views toward sex from an historical perspective through to contemporary times. There is a considerable statistical analysis presented to provide a level of assurance for a number of important inferences made. The bibliography has extensive citations from many authoritative sources like the Columbia University Press, Princeton University Press and the University of Chicago Press. The presentation is easy to read and understand.