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The Sex Life of Chairman Mao

As Eric Hobsbawn has pointed out in Revolutionaries, the widespread belief that there is some connection between social revolutionary movements and permissiveness in sexual behaviour actually has no basis in fact. Indeed, there is by contrast a strain of Puritanism nude models in many revolutionary movements. This seems to be particularly true in the Maoist forms of revolution, since they have tended to focus on the movement (as represented by for example the Chinese Communist Party or the Angkar of the Khmer Rouge) taking the place of the family. The young Chinese Communists who supported Mao Zedong as he emerged as the leader of the movement were in fact positively forbidden from any kind of personal intimacy. Despite the constant threat of death or serious injury, not to mention capture by the enemy, the young men and women had to endure without physical comfort from each other.



This restriction did not, of course, apply to Mao himself. Anchee Mins Becoming Madame Mao describes the sound of passion coming from Maos quarters, as he made love to the young actress who was to become the terror of the Cultural Revolution, quite unnerving the young guards posted outside. Mao of course was by then onto what was to become marriage to his third wife. However, these marital liaisons were but one part of his sexual life. Throughout the period of his ascendancy, as reports of his personal life have made clear, young and virgin girls were brought to his bed on a regular basis. Agents, they might equally be termed pimps, roamed the Chinese countryside searching for suitable girls and explained the situation to their parents. They were sold the idea that a great honour was being provided for them and their daughter. Perhaps financial or material inducements were also provided at need. Presumably, there are a number of these women living still in China with Maos children, although this is not a subject which is discussed very much in the public sphere.



As for Mao himself, an endless series of young girls and a sense of entitlement would be strong enough inducements for most men but, in his case, he did seem to have a genuine intent to reach an advanced age, which he managed to achieve to a reasonable extent. There has been a longstanding belief in Chinese society that men can reinvigorate themselves by absorbing life energy from younger women through sexual contact. In fact, older women could receive the same favour from younger boys but, apart from the Empress Wu and her like, much fewer have been able to take advantage of the possibility.

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