Everyone knows China is considered a conservative country, but in truth people are people and are very likely to live their lives in the way they choose to, no matter what the society and circumstances around them suggest they ought to do. Due to Confucianism China maintains a rather restrictive control over it's own people; this restriction is often un-spoken and an endemic part of the cultural structure, especially in relation to sexuality.
Lesbianism, of course, is greatly frowned upon, as it doesn't fit within the idea of the Confucian familial structure, so you may wonder what the situation is like within mainland China, and if there are actually any lesbians.
Are There Any Lesbians In China?
The fact of the matter is there are huge amounts of lesbians within mainland China! I would even venture that the ratio in fact exceeds the ratio in most western countries. You may very well wonder how I can possibly judge this in a culture whereby homosexuality should be hidden, and this is the bizarre thing: Chinese lesbians openly walk the streets quite obviously as a couple, together holding hands, and generally acting like lovers!
Now you may ask how this could be possible in such a restrictive society; the interesting thing is that due to China being essentially closed to the western world for hundreds of years (the last time China was open to the world was in the Yuan dynasty), most native Chinese have no idea what a lesbian couple might look or behave like, in fact two girls holding hands wouldn't be seen as anything strange at all. It's only to a westerners eye that the Chinese lesbian relationship is obvious!
How Chinese Lesbians Fool The Public!
To be quite honest I have been amazed at how some Chinese lesbian couples flaunt their relationships as much as they do, some even kissing in public in a kind of coy-play manner. I've looked around at the Chinese people to see their reaction, and there is absolutely none! Even in a western country a lesbian couple would get the odd raised eyebrow and frown behaving this way, yet not in China. Why is this?
You may think that perhaps they are not lesbians, and they are simply two girls who are close friends, and it's only to my unaccustomed eyes that they 'seem' to be lesbians, but I should point out I have lived in China for more than eight years now, and also count a few lesbians as friends and even they have confirmed what I've witnessed.
The amazing thing IS THIS: because the culture is so restrictive and closed, Chinese lesbians have actually essentially found a way of 'hiding-out in the open'.
Is Chinese Lesbianism Only a Fashion Statement?
The truth is, as many Chinese lesbians have told me and I myself have seen, lesbianism is a massive movement within China, particularly from the high school age until around twenty-four years of age. Many of the high school students do regard it as a kind of fashion, and this is the issue in China where the majority will follow a fashion or lifestyle simply if others are doing it.
Go to any independent market, and outside some of the clothes shops for females you will see a discreet sign with the letter 'B.B'.
Many Chinese of the older generation have no idea what this sign means, but it's a sign for a type of clothing that makes a female look like a boy, which is commonly what one of the two lesbians will choose to look like. This may sound like an offensive statement to a western female lesbian, trivializing their sexuality into a stereotypical fashion statement, yet it is not considered as such at all within China and with Chinese lesbians themselves, if anything they are proud of it.
Where To Meet Chinese Lesbians
Gay bars for lesbians to meet are also quite common, although ask the majority of native Chinese and you may very well get to hear the statement that 'there are no gay bars in China!'; they may or may not actually believe this, but either way most regard homosexuality as a kind of shameful thing not to be admitted as part of Chinese society. Regardless, there are many gay bars in China, and everyone homosexual in a city knows where they are by word of mouth.
Lesbianism is unlikely to get less, in fact due to the Chinese propensity for following the latest trends due to a certain learned collective cultural viewpoint that is an intrinsic part of Chinese culture, it can only increase. The only question is this: What happens after the age of twenty-four when they are supposed to get married to a man and settle down and have babies (or at least one)? Seeing what happens in those cases in the future will be the interesting thing!