Beijing – Single and confined to her home during the epidemic, this Chinese woman has found a solution to complete her forced abstinence: the purchase of a sex toy, a gesture that is becoming commonplace with young people who are much less conservative than their elders.
“I was a little scared of this stuff and was embarrassed to use it“, Explain “Amy“, a 27-year-old Beijing woman who does not wish to reveal her real name.
“And then suddenly, I discovered another world“, says the young girl, who took the plunge in early 2020, when the Covid-19 epidemic had emptied the Chinese streets and pushed people to stay at home.
China was until now known more for its production than for its consumption: the Asian giant is the world’s largest exporter.
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But the thirst for sex toys, seen in recent years, was further stimulated by the epidemic, when confinements separated the couples and closed the places of exit for several weeks – in fact limiting dates.
“A large number of sexually active (…) women now have a very open attitude towards the use of sex toysYi Heng, a Chinese blogger specializing in sex issues, told AFP.
“They see it as something natural and normal“, explains the young woman, who has more than 700,000 subscribers on the social network Weibo – equivalent in China of Twitter.
– Forbidden porn –
The Asian country remains generally conservative when it comes to sex in the public space: the sale and purchase of pornographic films is prohibited and the authorities regularly launch campaigns against the content “vulgar” on the Internet.
Marriage and the family also remain two traditional pillars of society.
But the number of divorces reached a record level (3.1 million) during the first nine months of 2020. The sign of a profound change in values in a China which divorced little 20 years ago.
More and more financially independent, Chinese women aged 18-35 are also asserting their sexual needs much more than before. And the use of sex toys is democratizing.
“Sometimes they just can’t reach an orgasm, to have the pleasure they want. Maybe because men are not good enough in bed …“, tackles blogger Yi Heng.
“So women are more tempted to relieve themselves.”
The Chinese sex toy market remains far behind that of Western countries or even neighboring Japan.
But carried by young Chinese women, it is still valued at more than 100 billion yuan (13 billion euros), notes the Chinese firm iiMedia.
Between January and June, a period when many Chinese stayed home for fear of being infected with the coronavirus, searches for the phrase “sex-toys“thus jumped on the Chinese search engine Baidu.
– “Feeling of happiness” –
“For those who bought sex toys during the pandemic, this was mostly the first purchase“of this type of product,” notes Steffi Noel, consultant at Daxue Consulting, based in Beijing.
Beyond Chinese consumers, overseas demand for sex toys “made in China“also experienced a peak during periods of confinement.
China manufactures 70% of global exports, according to Daxue Consulting. And a spike in orders has been noted in recent months in France, Italy and the United States “especially for vibrators and sex dolls“, emphasizes Ms. Noel.
During the first half of 2020, exports have exploded by + 50% year on year, according to Chinese e-commerce giant AliExpress.
“We export more than 1,000 sex dolls per month“, explains to AFP Mr. Feng, an official of the specialized company Shengyi, based in the manufacturing metropolis of Shenzhen (south).”We are at the maximum of our production capacity.”
Pekingese Amy says she hopes society takes a more uninhibited look at sex toys.
“My hope is that everyone can experience and feel this feeling of happiness“she says.