Chang, Jui-Shan
March 1996
International Journal of Sociology of the Family;Spring96, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p13
Academic Journal
This paper explores the perceptions, meanings, attitudes and interpretations of the jeng-tsao-guann (the value of chastity and virginity) among never married young people in Taipei city by using qualitative data from six focus group interviews which were conducted in June and July of 1994. The insights into the perceptions, interpretations and idiom of sexual mores among these young people suggest that there is a realignment underway between the genders regarding their roles in, and expectations about, intimate relations. The outline of this realignment does not appear to be a direct importation of Western ideas about sexuality: local cultural variations are discernible. Chinese ideas about virginity come to the fore when female virginity is lost. Men are confronted with the challenge of making good the responsibility to marry the woman given the premarital, rather than promiscuous or exploratory, nature of the sexual encounter. In anticipation of any risk of virginity loss or in the 'aftermath' of it happening unexpectedly, women are challenged to assess the loss of 'marriage value' from no longer being a virgin and to assess the risks of non-marriage. New economic independence for women has meant that marriage is no longer the sole path to a secure or coherent life. Women can therefore downplay the value of virginity. Women's expectations of their future husbands' fidelity and the men's downplaying of women's past 'indiscretions' can be expected to reach a new balance. A number of insights and policy implications are developed from these findings.


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