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The Shanghai Sex Museum

by on October 25, 2008

By the time you read this post, we’ll already be in Shanghai. At this very moment I am probably dragging Ryan to the Sex Museum against his will, less because he doesn’t want to see giant penises and more because he doesn’t want to go through nascent magma again. The museum is at the end of the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, which has been described as “the future as envisioned by someone living in New Jersey in the 1970s.” I imagine it would’ve been pretty trippy if we’d been on drugs.

Anyway, back to the museum. According to this review:

There are ten small exhibitions, each focusing on different aspects of sexuality. For example, there’s a section on what the translation calls ‘abnormal behaviour’ such as bestiality and homosexuality (the latter was only declassified as a psychological disorder in China in 2001, but the museum takes a more liberal view towards it). In an attempt to draw comparisons between eastern and western views of sex there are objects from other countries too. All that really gets highlighted though is the fact that western countries have more laid back attitudes – over here you can’t buy mugs with handles shaped like naked women.

A large part of the collection features the world of prostitution, such as tea cups which were used in brothels and have pictures of naked women at the bottom. Other exhibits are slightly harder to stomach, for instance a donkey saddle with a wooden dildo attached. Skip to the next paragraph now if you’re squeamish. In ancient China, adulterous women were made to sit on the saddle and ride through town. The intention, as the English translation pointedly explains, was to ‘ruin them’. Gruesome.

Alongside these attention-grabbing displays are some informative pieces, like the ‘trunk bottom’ artefacts, which are far less suggestive than their name might imply. When young girls were due to be married, their mothers put little boxes containing copulating figurines at the bottom of a trunk of their possessions. Scrolls of images were included too, so the newly-weds would know what to do on their wedding night and could copy the positions.

Apart from a picture of the world’s biggest penis, which will stay with me for a long time, there aren’t many photos; mostly the exhibition features ancient items, such as stone dildos or tiny shoes from women who had their feet bound. Amongst other reasons, women were forced to bind their feet so they couldn’t walk far, certainly not far enough to leave their husbands, making them slaves sexually and domestically. The point of this museum, unlike some of its European counterparts, is genuinely to educate and not amuse.

Shanghai Sex Museum
End of the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel
Binjiang Da Dao, Pudong
Near the ZhengDa Guangchang Shopping Center
Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:30 PM daily
Entrance: 20 RMB


From → Foreign, Travel

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