Burning Books and Politically Correct Censorship

November 4, 2015

My reason for writing this post was to show how cultural differences bring about biased opinions due to religious, spiritual and/or cultural beliefs.

For instance, my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine, because she grew up in a country with the soul of a church. After my mother died, I found her videos of the Bible, an audio version and about thirty different translations/versions.

I didn’t know until then that there was that many ways to speak for one God. In fact, Biblica says, “Would you believe that there are literally hundreds of different translations of the Bible into English? For many people this huge variety is totally confusing and they just don’t know which Bible to choose.”

After my father died, mother spent her last decade to age 89 studying the Bible several hours a day. This was her attempt to discover the answer to salvation that haunted her most of her life.

My mother loved to read other books too, as did my father, who was not a religious person. However, if my mother ran into a vivid sex scene in a novel, she threw the book in the fireplace.

Since I was born and raised a Catholic, and when I was 12 my mother switched to the Jehovah Witnesses, I know why she would’ve burned my novel.

To Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, and most devout Christians of all sects, lust is a mortal sin.

In fact, Catholic Questions in a Secular World says, “The seven deadly sins are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, gluttony, sloth and lust.… Lust is the self-indulgent desire for gratification … without the sanctifying graces of marriage.”

For instance, when I was single in my thirties, I had a relationship with a lawyer, who ended the relationship due to her Christian guilt. She wasn’t a Catholic but she attended two different Christian churches on Sundays, and she made it clear that it was the guilt that drove her to stop seeing me. She said she went to two churches to hear two sermons each Sunday, because it was the only way should heard what she wanted to hear.

My Splendid Concubine is historical fiction based on a real Irishman who went to China in 1854, bought a concubine and stayed until 1908 to become the most powerful Westerner in China’s history and the only foreigner trusted by the Emperor.

Books have been written on the subject of sex in America that explains why my mother would have burned My Splendid Concubine. America’s War on Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty by Marty Klein, Ph D. is one example, which “Spotlights the political, legal and civic battles raging in this country against what is arguably our most private and pluralistic right – sexual freedom.”

And in Cultural Differences Defined by Written Language, I attempted to explain why cultures around the globe are not all the same, and as I did when I wrote of The Collective Culture versus Individualism.

Another example is an anonymous reviewer called “colorado outback” who posted a one-star review on Amazon of My Splendid Concubine and said, “You should Not Buy This Book – Seriously, just Soft Porn.”

My mother would have agreed with “colorado outback”, because she was influenced by her religion.

Outback says: “this seemed more like the sexual fantasy of the author and NOT the historical novel it is purported to be.”

However, “outback” was wrong. The idea to write My Splendid Concubine didn’t originate from a sexual fantasy, as I’ll explain.

Since writing My Splendid Concubine was not motivated by sexual fantasies, I responded to “outback’s” biased opinion, and outback replied that my novel doesn’t “come up to par with Anchee Min, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Walker, Charles Dickens, Amy Tan, Pearl S. Buck, James Michener, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Tom Robbins and so on.”

I’d have to agree. I’ve never thought that I was equal to or better than the authors outback listed or any author. In fact, I don’t compare my writing to any other author and if I compete with anyone, it is with my own writing with the goal to improve.

Outback claimed to have read all of the books by the above authors and thousands more yet he only had two, one-star reviews posted on Amazon (at the time I was writing this post).  Where are all those five-star reviews extolling the virtues of the work he admired?

If I didn’t write such a lusty novel from personal sexual fantasies as “outback” claims, why did I write it?

The answer is simple.

I wanted to show the clash between different cultures and Sterling Seagrave wrote in Dragon Lady, “To take the pain out of learning, his Chinese tutor suggested that (Robert) Hart might buy a concubine and study the local dialect with her.

“Hart wrote in his journal, ‘Here is a great temptation. Now, some of the China women are very good looking: You can make one your absolute possession for from 50 to 100 dollars and support her at a cost of 2 or 3 dollars per month. … Shall I hold out or shall I give way?'”

Seagrave writes in the next paragraph, “By early May he (Robert Hart) had a sleep-in dictionary, his concubine, Ayaou. He had just turned twenty; Ayaou was barely past puberty.”

Then the editors of Entering China’s Service: Robert Hart’s Journals wrote on page 8, “But anyone who reads the journals through knows that his mental struggles about women were not soon or lightly won; whether the relapse was to daydreams or to a Chinese mistress, it caused him ambivalence and anguish.”

China has had a concubine culture for thousands of years and that culture, although changed in form, is still active today, which I wrote of in Concubines Return to China Riding Capitalism’s Wave of Wealth.

In China, the concubine is a trophy showing a man’s success, and no major religion on earth has had a lasting impact on the Chinese culture in more than a thousand years.

In fact, the concept that lust is a mortal sin doesn’t exist in China unless a Chinese adopts Christianity as their religion.

That does not mean China is without morals but the moral codes of China exist without the sin of mortal lust as Catholics and many devout Christians believe. In fact, I’ve known mainland Chinese that are extremely moral and would put most Puritans to shame.

The idea to focus on Robert Hart’s struggles with his Victorian, Christian morals while living in 19th century China’s concubine culture sprouted when I first read his journals and letters published by Harvard University Press.

Other influences were Anchee Min’s Empress Orchid and The Last Empress: A Novel—both novels go into detail about the lives of the more than three thousand concubines that belonged to the emperor.

In fact, in 19th century China, the more power and wealth a man had, the more women he owned.

Another influence was the movie directed by Zhang Yimou in 1991, Raise the Red Lantern, which “focuses on the ever-shifting balance of power between the various concubines while the husband ignores much of what is going on — taking his pleasures when he feels like it.”

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 5 of 5

December 20, 2014

Most of the prostitutes in the cities are village girls and many have little orno idea about safe sex. This is causing an increase in HIV, because many of the men refuse to wear condoms. Sometimes, when the girl says no, the paying customer will rape her.

The sexual revolution in China is fragile. While the new China supports it, the old China is afraid of the changes. Adultery and divorce are on the rise. Kids are leaving home, and there is a growing generation gap.

In the video, one older Chinese man says that China is not used to this. Under pressure from the older generation, the police end up raiding bordellos and arresting prostitutes.

However, now that China’s sexual revolution is in the open, it will be almost impossible to stop without a return to Mao’s Cultural Revolution and few in China want that to happen. At first, the government tried to stop what was going on but soon backed off, and parents, who grew up in Mao’s puritanical era, don’t want their children to experience the same repression.

With this new found freedom, women are gaining power that they never had before, and many families now value having female children. Few want to return to the way things were.

Return to Part 4 or start with Part 1

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_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 4 of 5

December 19, 2014

China’s one-child policy, created to control the growth of the population, is complicated and is complicating the sexual revolution.

By ending the pressure on Chinese women to have many children, this has liberated them. Now Chinese women have the freedom to get an education and find a paying job.

The one-child policy also created another problem. Since Chinese families have always favored having boys, many women get abortions when the fetus is identified as a female. This has led to a growing imbalance between the number of men and women causing millions of poor men to not find a mate. With so many poor men unable to find women, gangs and crime have become a problem.

With this challenge, China also has the fastest growing sex industry in the world. A decade ago, there was little prostitution Today, there are many brothels masquerading as massage parlors, and ome are modeled after the brothels in Thailand.

Capitalism has arrived in all its guises, and the same problems the United States has with sex slavery and drugs is now a problem in China too.

Continued on December 20, 2014 in Part 5 or return to Part 3

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_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 3 of 5

December 18, 2014

In China today, teenage girls are living lives their parents never imagined and don’t understand. The teens are very open about what turns them on in a guy. Many do not care what their parents think. They only want to have fun—sounds like the United States, doesn’t it?

Listening to the conversation between this group of Chinese girls sounds like listening to spoiled kids in the US talking.

The teens often go out clubbing and the nightclubs are equal to or better than the best in the West. The nightclub featured in the video has life-sized wall paintings from Cultural Revolution posters while teens dressed in sexy clothes dance and grind to loud music. These changes started in the late 1990s.

Even in China’s rural villages, the sexual revolution has been felt as millions of young women leave the villages to the big cities and experience what the urban Chinese are doing. The first stop is the hair salon.

The media is even climbing on board this sexual revolution. Glitzy magazines, like the Chinese edition of Cosmopolitan, feature the stylish, hot and sexy.

Continued on December 19, 2014 in Part 4 or return to Part 2

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_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 2 of 5

December 17, 2014

According to a 2004 survey, only twenty percent of Chinese men know where to find the clitoris, while fifty percent of Chinese women haven’t had an orgasm. Sexual ignorance and dysfunction is common. Mao’s Cultural Revolution left invisible scars.

China also has a new, popular holiday, Valentine’s Day. On February 14, cupid and roses have become fashionable. Nightclubs hold Valentine’s festivals where  couples meet, drug use is common and kissing leads to sex.

Private businesses that cater to romance and sex are flourishing in China. Some shops are a cross between a sexual education center that also sells adult sex toys. In Beijing, there are an estimated five thousand sex shops and business is booming. This industry is worth billions.

When the first graphic sex Blog came online, the server crashed and was down for several days. When the government censors shut down a sex Blog, more replace it.

Continued on December 18, 2014 in Part 3 or start with Part 1

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_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Evolving Sexual Revolution in China: Part 1 of 5

December 16, 2014

The world’s biggest country is going through the world’s largest sexual revolution.  From the Internet to corner sex shops, China is changing. But lost in the mix, millions of single men can’t find a date much less a mate.

As China goes through what the West experienced in the 1960s, Mao’s Little Red Book has been replaced with a black book filled with phone numbers and date information.

Mao’s taboos against capitalism and sex have been gone for decades. With these changes comes the dark side—drugs, prostitution, HIV and STDs. Under Mao, sexuality was crushed. Everyone wore the same baggy colored clothes. Everyone had the same haircut. Young couples who fell in love and were caught were punished. But tday, cosmetics, perfume and stylish clothes have replaced Mao uniforms.

Millions are learning about romance and love. However, millions of others have been left with sexual, psychological problems and are very ignorant about sex. They were victims of Mao’s Cultural Revolution’s sexual repression.

Continued on December 17, 2014 in Part 2

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_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

June 25, 2013

Based on a novel written by Dai Sijie, who also directed the film.
ISBN: 978-0385722209
Publisher – Anchor (October 29, 2002)

I read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress soon after it came out.  A few years later, we drove more than sixty miles to see the Mandarin language movie. Checking Amazon recently, I saw 264 customer reviews for the book with an average of 4.1 out of 5 stars. This short novel spent twenty-three weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The author, born in China, moved to France where he learned to read, speak and write French. The book was originally written in French and translated into English by Ina Rilke.

The story is about two likable, teenage boys and their struggle after being banished to a peasant village for “re-education” during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Sons of doctors and dentists, the boys work at muscling buckets of excrement up the mountainside and mining coal. Then there is the little seamstress of the title, whom Luo, one of the boys, falls in love with. He dreams of transforming the seamstress from a simple country girl into a sophisticated lover. He succeeds beyond his expectations, but the result is not what he expected.

This link goes to the Mandarin language DVD with English subtitles. Discover more Chinese cinema through Joan Chen’s Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel, Running with the Enemy, was awarded an honorable mention in general fiction at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival.

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