Here’s a report from a local daily: a statue of two pigs has become the centre of internet gossip in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province. The statue shows a female pig (one breast exposed) lying on her stomach with a male pig kneeling behind her. The statue is part of a set of figures for children put up on a plaza near the iconic TV tower in the city.
A tourist found the statue obscene and objected to it, since children were clambering all over it. He described the statue as “hooligan pigs”. However, the authorities explained that the statue formed part of a series of 21 statues put up to impart traditional values such as perseverance, diligence and love to children. The other statues showed children reading books, picking carrots, a polar bear carrying a baby bear, child monks learning kung fu, and so on. This particular statue, the authorities said, was actually that of a pig giving his mother a back rub, and was supposed to display “filial piety”. As for the visitor’s interpretation of the pigs as “hooligans”, the authorities said this showed that tourists had “humorous perceptions and entertaining ideas.”
The discussion fizzled out, till a few days later another netizen, a news photographer and micro-blogger, posted a picture of toys which were available 10 years back. These were toy pigs, dressed as human beings, male and female, in different stages of sexual activity. Among them was one set exactly like the statue of the pigs in Zhengzhou. It was obvious there was nothing “filial” about this set. These toys, wrote the news photographer, had been confiscated during a raid on a jewellery store in Wuhan 10 years back. He had himself taken the picture of the “hooligan toys” as they had been described at that time.
Immediately, the internet discussion revived. Netizens wanted to know who had designed these statues. A worker at the plaza revealed that the statues had been bought ready- made from Fujian. Interestingly, both Wuhan and Fujian hold annual ‘adult’ product fairs. The Zhengzhou authorities had thought them particularly suitable for display outside the TV Tower because inside it there was a “Children Experience Museum”. Now that the link had been brought to their notice, said the authorities, the statues would be removed if indeed they were found to be modelled on the toys.
This isn’t the first time sex toys have been mistaken for something else in China. Just two months back, a rubber sex toy found while digging a well in a village was mistaken for a rare double-headed mushroom. A TV reporter interviewed the oldest villagers, who declared they had never seen anything like it. Describing it in great detail on TV, the reporter even declared that this was a mushroom much sought after by the first Chinese emperor for its medicinal qualities. But viewers identified it as a sex toy and wrote in, praising the “purity” of the young reporter and the villagers.The channel, however, issued an apology on China’s popular micro-blogging site. “Our programme last night made everyone laugh,” said the apology, adding, “Our reporter is very young and sheltered!”
And last month, 18 policemen spent an hour trying to rescue an inflatable life-size sex doll floating in a river, thinking it was a woman drowning. More than 1,000 spectators watched as the doll was brought out.
Last year, China was rated as the world’s largest producer of sex toys. The first sex-toy shop opened in Beijing in 1993. Today, every city has such shops. However, they cannot advertise their products on TV, and most of the produce is for export.
Sex education, meanwhile, continues to be a low priority in schools.