Older Chinese men and women's experiences and understanding of sexuality

Chau Wai Elsie Yan, Anise Man Sze Wu, Petula Ho, Veronica Pearson

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


This study explored the meaning of sexuality for older Chinese people from diverse backgrounds and the role of traditional Chinese cultural values in shaping sexual expression. A total of 20 Hong Chinese elders were interviewed. Most reported a rigid definition of sexual behaviour, confining it to heterosexual sexual intercourse. Kissing, hugging and caressing were not considered 'sexual', and same-sex relationships were virtually absent from respondents' conceptions of sexuality. Traditional patriarchal values in relation to sexuality prevailed. Men and women attached different meanings to sexuality. Neither believed that sex was enjoyable for women or that women needed sex in the same way as men. Female participants saw sex as part of their responsibility to procreate and to fulfill their husband's needs. Male participants considered sex to be important for fulfilling their physical drives. The lack of an appropriate partner due to widowhood, the partner's physical condition or a poor spousal relationship apparently accounted for the low levels of sexual activity reported by informants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-999
Number of pages17
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Old people
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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