Author Jemimah Steinfeld Talks China’s Generation Gap & Sex

little-emperors

On March 21st, Jemimah Steinfeld sat down to talk to a full house at Chengdu’s Bookworm Literary Festival. Her new book Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China launched at the beginning of March in London.

Aside from having written for CNN and The Telegraph among many others, she graduated in 2012 with an MA in Chinese Studies from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. After being back and forth between China and London for years, she now finds herself living back in London.

Before her talk at The Bookworm in Chengdu, I (Zak Dychtwald) sat down with her to discuss why she wanted to write this book, China’s generation gaps, and a healthy dose of sex. To make it easier to navigate, and for those scrolling just for sexy bits, we’ve split the interview up with subheadings.

CL: How would you describe your latest book, Little Emperors and Material Girls: Sex and Youth in Modern China?

I think the best way to describe it is as the lives and loves of urban Chinese. The book is mostly about the 1980’s kids but also a few 1990’s kids. I say youth, and I specify in the introduction youth is more of a mindset than an actual age group. It is the kids who have left school. Some of them have left their parents, although one of the big theme in the books is some of these older “kids” are still living with their parents. Psychologically they have left their parents, they are making decisions for themselves, but they’re not yet married.

It is aimed predominantly at the American and British and “Western Audiences.” How are their lives like ours? How are they different? Where are the commonalities and why is it that you walk down a modern Chinese city and superficially, a lot of it looks similar to your hometown, but then, once you break the surface, it proves to be much different.

Jemimah Steinfeld

CL: What are some of the reasons you wanted to write this book?

One of the big reasons I wanted to write this book is there is this conception that young Chinese people are living in this political prison. Actually, they have a lot of the freedoms we have back home, a lot of the freedoms we exercise back home. I mean, there’s the vote is coming up in the UK in two months time. Lots of my friends will not even vote. Russell Brand just came out and said, “Why would you even bother voting?”

I think for a lot of 20-somethings, even people who are semi-engaged, voting is not what defines their daily lives – it’s other more personal matters. It’s strange to go back to the UK and hear people bemoan, “Wow, it must be awful, they can’t even vote!”

It is not to condone the political situation or to say that they don’t have their struggles here —they do—but maybe the things that get to them on a day-to-day basis are slightly different. They want love. They want to not be screwed around by their boss. The issues can actually be quite similar to ours, but the way they manifest is totally different.

CL: True. There seems to be a type of “Red Scare” suspicion with which a lot of people back home regard China.

I think because of the way that it’s presented. I get it. I’ve worked in newspapers. Bad news sells! I used to joke with my old teacher that in China, only good news is news and then outside China, only bad news is news.

I get that they need to sell newspapers, and I am of course also attracted to the darker sides. Because of that though, China, at nearly 1.4 billion people, have become these soulless, faceless victims, which I don’t think holds up.

Road to China

CL: Tell me a bit about your China route. How did you end up here?

I’ve been asked this question a thousand times, not just from the book but just from living here as long as I have. I used to joke that what originally attracted me to China was the food. Ever since I was born, we’ve had dim sum every single weekend. It’s like that “Jewish and Chinese people love each other” kind of thing.

I remember just arriving in Shanghai and walking around this really rubbish downtown area and calling my dad and saying, “Oh my god, this is the best place in the world. I found it Dad.”

Because at the time, it was before the Olympics. Every single year the economy was jumping up. The pollution was at least a little bit better. There was a sense of optimism; I imagine it is what 1960’s New York must have been like. Absolutely intoxicating. From that moment, from day one, it became much more than just the food…though the food has always played a constant.

CL: Why did you go back to Beijing instead of Shanghai?

I had been to Beijing a few times prior and thought it was kind of this awful, communist monstrosity and I couldn’t figure out why anyone liked it. And then I was talked into it, and I’m pleased with that. It still has a bit of communist monstrosity to it but it also has a lot of charm. I base my book there because I think it has a lot of things happen in Beijing. It is where most big social movements either start or crystalize, so it is kind of the China story in a lot of ways.

There is also, of course, no one single China story, which is kind of the point.

Youth Generation

CL: Let’s get back to your book. What makes the generation that you’re talking about different than past generations in China?

God, everything. I think one of the biggest things is choice. Past generations just didn’t really have a choice. When you look at the parents of the later bālínghòu (the generation born after ’80), most were born during the Cultural Revolution. Earlier, and they were born around the Great Leap Forward and the resulting famine. They had all of their choices dictated from above, where they would work, who would they marry.

Grandparents, who also raise these kids, are even more different. It is very common in China to not be raised primarily by your parents but by your grandparents. The grandparents had even less choice.

I was speaking to a girl the other day whose grandmother was a concubine and her grandfather had left his initial marriage for her grandmother.

With that said, I think there is also a lot of continuity. The choices that this young generation have can be a bit illusory. The parents still have a lot of say in who their kids are going to get with. They listen to their parents quite a lot and when they don’t, they make quite a point about it. Simply not listening to your parents here is an act of rebellion in ways that it isn’t back home for us.

If I ask someone back home what their job is I won’t follow up with “Well what do your parents think about it.” But here, people will often assert quite emphatically, “I’m doing this because I want to do it. This is not what my parents want me to do.” That in and of itself is an act of rebellion.

Jemimah Steinfeld

CL: So is this generation more individually focused than past generations?

Previously, you were part of this big collective. Now there is more focus, or at least what seems to be more focus, on the individual. Still, I’m not entirely convinced that is how it is.

I get into the LGBT community, and they often describe the need to conform to society. Lots of them don’t come out to their parents because it is seen as a disappointment to the harmonious society, to their parents’ wants and desires.

Sex

CL: Your book has the word “Sex” pretty front and center. I read a funny retelling of your book launch at the Asia House in London. The bar was drunk dry of Pinkster Gin. Lots of flirting towards the end. It sounds far livelier than most China book release parties, attributed in part maybe to the nature of the work. Tell us a little about sex in your book.

I’ve always been someone who has spoken quite openly about sex. In high school I was into Sex and the City. The school magazine decided to have me write a column that was a spin on Sex and the City called “Sex in the Sixth Form,” the last two years of high school in the UK. It was a massive hit. That was the first time I wrote about sex.

CL: Sorry, Sex in the Sixth Form? That is a killer title.

Their tagline was “Carrie Bradshaw knows good sex and isn’t afraid to ask” for Sex and the City, and ours was “Jemimah Steinfeld knows good pecs (chest muscles) and isn’t afraid to ask to see them.” Good fun. The teachers loved it, too.

CL: I can put this in, right?

Of course. So I was always comfortable with talking about sex, not prone to blushing. Now in China, they are far less comfortable talking about sex.

CL: Lots of blushers.

I try to be very aware of that. I would really judge the interview accordingly. There is no point in making people feel awkward because they’ll tense up. If you see it as sex and you’re expecting “50 Shades of Red,” you’re not going to get that. I don’t think we need to know about what kind of things, specifically, people are doing in the bedroom to discuss Chinese sexuality.

With that said, I do cite a few trends, which are more “intimate”. There is a huge erectile dysfunction problem right now, which I think it sort of telling about China. I have asked a lot about it but it hasn’t been easy. That is what I consider my Great Wall of China.

For me it’s much more about the sexual cultures. I think that’s much more interesting, because sexuality and relationships really come to define a large portion of young people’s lives. These were the conversations I was hearing all around me. The pressure to get married, the pressure to make decisions about relationships.

This is something that is really distinctive with the bālínghòu and jíulínghòu (born after ’90 generation). Their parents didn’t really have this choice in who to marry or even sleep with. But for the kids now, they kind of want to be hedonists, in lots of ways really, and obviously sex is the one area in which you’re most hedonistic. But they’re not being entirely hedonistic yet. It was extremely interesting figuring out where all the kinks and the quirks are.

CL: So we’re not talking about the specifics of sex life necessarily.

Well, I did talk about things like the number of sexual partners, whether they’re in long term relationships, whether they’re cohabiting. Some of them I found out whether they are virgins or not. Some of them are even more revealing. There is one girl who is completely sex-led in her relationship. She’s seeing a guy who she describes as being a complete idiot, but apparently he fucks really good, I think were her words.

If people are sleeping around more, how are they sleeping around more, what are the attitudes towards it, are they accepted by society, are they not accepted, do they feel comfortable doing it, and then, what are the pros, are they enjoying their sexual freedom, is it the men, is it the woman, are they happy with it, are they getting STDs?

Favorites from Little Emperors and Material Girls

CL: Sounds very revealing. Do you have a favorite story?

I do, actually. I think it is Viktor. He is very charismatic. He’s in a band in Beijing called Bedstars, called this because he thinks it sounds slutty. A rock band. He is quite unattractive and wants to have the Mick Jagger lifestyle, but he says he is too unattractive to get with too many girls. And when I interviewed him he was actually there with his girlfriend who he’s cheated on.

Viktor still lives with his parents at home and thinks he’s never going to earn enough money as a rock musician in this country as all the girls are into “pop shit,” I believe he said.

He therefore is starting up a sex toy company because he thinks you walk down the street and everyone looks innocent but behind closed doors they’re all into kink and sin. He wants to differentiate his store from all of the thousands of others that already exist on Taobao and on the streets of Beijing by importing the toys as opposed to selling the ones made in China. He thinks people are really concerned about quality, safety, all the “Made in China” scandals, really.

He was just very funny. He had this dirty sense of humor. He was quite politicized though he claimed he wasn’t at all. His thought process and his struggle summed up a lot of the contradictions and the issues that are kind of swirling around in these young people’s heads.

Other China Authors

CL: Who are some China authors that have inspired you or informed your work?

Quite a few. I remember reading Xinran’s The Good Women Of China, and that just blew my mind. And then Ma Jian’s Beijing Coma, about Tiananmen Square. I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting Ma Jian a few times, and I’m going to be meeting Xinran. I manage a literary festival in London, an Asian one, so I’m meeting Xinran in a few weeks to help launch her new book, which had me jumping up and down on my desk about. Those two are really brilliant, amazing people.

I also really liked Rob Gifford’s China Road. I’m recently quite into North Korean Literature. There’s one by Barbara Demick and she has written the most amazing book called Nothing to Envy. When someone can write non-fiction and make it read like fiction, that is right up my alley.

The something that actually happened, as a documentary person and a history major, but making those pieces accessible and readable, that is something I’m really attracted to.

What’s next?

CL: You’re back in London now. What’s next for Jemimah Steinfeld?

I am managing a literature program for Asia House in London. I’ve actually managed to find a job based in London where I can channel an interesting in China. So I deal with a lot of Chinese authors, which is great, both writing in English and in translation.

CL: You mentioned Xinran earlier.

Yes, and I was in conversation with Xiaolu Guo the other day, who is actually at this Bookworm Festival, I think in Beijing. I’ve also got A Yi coming, a Chinese top writer who has written a crime novel, which is being translated.

Writing is still my passion. I have an idea for a book that has to do with China. But if I do, it will be a historical book. One of my biggest interests is still history. It is really great writing about China and I’m interested in so many stories, but one of the biggest struggles is it changes so quickly. It is quite hard from the writer’s perspective to keep apace. Book writing is quite a slow process and the nation keeps surging ahead.

I would like to do a book where I can turn back and study all of the episodes that I’ve always been interested in.

A Wish list for China’s Future

CL: What’s next for China? Do you have any predictions in your area of expertise?

I avoid making predictions. China changes too fast for that. But I do have a wish list.

There is this naïve take that China is following a western model and I don’t agree with that. We love to look at a place and go, “That’s just like us!” No, I don’t think they are. There are quite a few bits that are similar to us but I think there is also quite a lot that is unique to China, or a lot of influences coming form Korea or Japan too, as much as from the West.

I don’t want China to be just like us. I think that would be really boring. I also think that there is this premise that “just like us” is a good thing, and I don’t think that our society is perfect whatsoever.

That said, I think there are some genuine struggles in this country to do with some things that are quite unique to here. I would really love women to shed the “Leftover” label (in reference to Leftover Women).

I would like LGBT community to feel they could come out to their parents. I think what these two both have in common is that they could really shake the heteronormative model that China really has where if you don’t conform to this “get married by the time you’re 25 to 30” model, you’re seen as being a failure both to your family and to society. I think they need to have a lot more room for different individual experiences.

I also think they need to start talking about sex more, honestly. There is a huge STI problem here; there is a huge amount of unwanted pregnancies. It is a complete screw up really in that respect.

I really hope there are some things they retain. They have a huge respect for elders, which I think we could learn a lot from. Not a respect for elders in the, “Yes I’m going to get married because my grandmother tells me to,” but I think a “Yes, I’m not going to shove you in a nursing home on the outskirts of the city” would be quite nice. Going to see our family more like the kids of the book going to see them and play mahjong with them. Respecting them and keeping them active members of our society.

On Chengdu

CL: Last question. What do you think of Chengdu?

I really like it. I really, really like it. It’s got this aspect of it where it looks like other Chinese cities but there is something really chilled out and there is so much greenery.

Thanks to Jemimah Steinfeld for participating in this interview, we encourage everyone reading this to check out her book. You can find Little Emperors and Material Girls at the Chengdu Bookworm or on Amazon, either on the Amazon US Store or Amazon China.

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Zak

About Zak

Zak Dychtwald is a writer and consultant living in Chengdu. Demography, literature, history, and weibo help him make sense of modern China.

19 Responses to “Author Jemimah Steinfeld Talks China’s Generation Gap & Sex”

  1. It was all very interesting until you showed your admiration for that idiot narcissistic imbecile Russell brand.

    • Dan

      I didn’t see any admiration. I think she was referring to his influence. But either way, even if she did like him, doesn’t diminish her work. Nobody’s perfect.

      To expand, I think her point there was that outside of China, many critics focus on the fact that Chinese people are politically repressed in a way that we in the West aren’t. But at the same time, we’re hardly actually utilizing any of those freedoms ourselves, to the point where influential people are encouraging citizens to forgo their vote.

      It’s indicative of a lack of awareness or hypocrisy or inconsistency in the way we view our own rights while “fighting” for the rights of others. It’s engaging in advocacy without actually listening to what the group we’re advocating for actually wants. You see that a lot in discourse about China and I’m glad she brought it up, even if she did cite a narcissistic imbecile to illustrate the point.

    • Charlie

      It felt like an observation and not an endorsement to me. You don’t have to like Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga to acknowledge the effect that they have on popular culture or the music industry. Regardless of what anyone thinks of him, Russell Brand wields a lot of influence.

  2. Deven

    One thing I’ve found in China is that the younger generation, while still not very open about sex, are fascinated (alas, sometimes to an annoying degree) by homosexuality. Especially when it comes to foreigners, as I’ve met a lot of Chinese people who love to talk about this subject with me as one of the first topics of conversation.

    I’ve even encountered a good amount of younger Chinese people who claim to be bi-sexual, but it seemed to me that they often put on this persona to seem more open and liberal (maybe a form of rebellion, it happens in the US too).

    Just curious if anyone else has encountered this, and if it’s possibly a way for Chinese people to approach sexuality, without having to really talk about the “nitty-gritty” of sex itself.

    • Liam

      I’ve noticed this too. I’ve heard a lot of takes on this that it’s Western influence, but actually homosexuality has been a part of Chinese culture for pretty much forever. A lot of the emperors had male concubines, and some philosophers actually argued that being gay was more virtuous than being straight. It was only in the 19th century, around when the British came to China, that attitudes seemed to change.

      That was one thing I found interesting about this interview. A lot of the press about China in the West right now is really negative, and that’s not to say that China doesn’t need to change things, but a lot of the reasons for thst also come from politicking and also, like the author says, bad news sells papers. But the West has their own problems and negative traits as well, and the whole anti-gay thing has only changed pretty recently in the US.

      There’s a pretty good book about homosexuality in ancient China called “Passion of the Cut Sleeve”, which comes from a story about an emperor who cut the sleeve off of his robe and went to court one-sleeved so he wouldn’t disturb his male concubine while he was sleeping. It’s on Amazon, if anybody wants to check it out.

    • Zak

      I’ve brought up the issue a few times with a friend of mine. 21/m/Beijing, very openly out, and very conscientious of the ebb and flow of public opinion towards the gay community in China.

      He’s pointed out that there is a certain novelty around the gay community that didn’t exist before, a trendiness to the whole thing. Check out the Zank vids on youku called “9 Gay Men.” Zank is a burgeoning Blued, a social app for the gay community, and they do a lot of research and multimedia for the gay community specifically, though they are working on encompassing the lgbt community at large.

      The Zank vids have apparently gained mass appeal in the straight community, particularly amongst women. “9 Gay Men Teach You How to Catch a Guy” is an easy example. Trendy, intelligent, well-spoken men tell it like it is. Also the whole 一百块都不给我 internet phenom is a way lower-end version, and speaks more to the homosexuality or highly feminized Chinese man as entertaining or fun.

      The gay community has become sort of novel. People are curious and accepting. The famous sexologist Li Yinhe came out explaining that her partner was born female but he identifies as male. Li Yinhe therefore identifies as heterosexual. She received a pretty overwhelmingly supportive response from the community, mostly curious.

      All this adds up to “Yes.” The LGBT, particularly the G, community are novel and kind of trendy now. It has been one of those cool responses from the Chinese people. People are perhaps a bit callous with their questions but generally curious and supportive.

      Thanks for the comment, Deven!

  3. Ray

    Good story Zak, and the author has some interesting insights, but i was disappointed when she trotted out the old “foreigners dump their parents in awful nursing homes against their will”. C’mon, really? That old myth is up there with “Chinese parents love their kids more than western parents love theirs”….

  4. Deven

    Yeah my thing with the homosexuality is not that they’re against it, but they are almost too interested in it. Like I tried to explain to a Chinese guy one time that when you meet a westerner, you shouldn’t immediately ask them if they’re gay or straight. He then took this as a sign that I wasn’t as “open” as he’d heard foreigners were.

    So I tried to explain that, from my perspective, the best way to show someone you’re tolerant or accepting of them being different than you in some way (race, sexuality etc.) is to not make a huge deal out of the fact that he or she is different from you, even if it’s in a supportive fashion. I see this with race all the time in China too

  5. Liam

    I’ve noticed in general Chinese people tend to ask a lot of questions right off the bat, which can often come across as kind of nosy. Like, I get the “Where are you from/what do you do/are you married” questions all the time, but if I asked that right away to a foreign looking person in the states we’d both feel pretty uncomfortable. Here in China it’s seen as just being friendly.

    That being said, it is a little weird that somebody here would ask you if you’re gay just after meeting you. Maybe just chalk it up to curiosity? Also, outside of Beijing and Shanghai, Chengdu has one of the largest gay communities in China, maybe the people you’ve met are trying to tell you something…

  6. Charlie

    The subject of sexuality in China is so weird and interesting. In a lot of ways Chinese youth culture has felt like it’s been at some kind of turning point over the last few decades. Where the merits of China’s traditions are weighed against the way that non-Chinese people do things. There is a lot of extreme behavior which goes very far in one direction or the other, like women who remain virgins until marriage, or girls who rebel against society and are really deliberate in their pursuit of sex, often specifically with expats. I feel like in the states there is a sense of normalcy with regard to dating and relationships, but in China it’s difficult to generalize because there are a lot of extremes.

    I looked up Bedstars and some songs and info. Apparently the leader singer also calls himself Fukovski. I can see the Mic Jagger influence. Here’s a Vimeo clip of their performance in Beijing which isn’t bad: https://vimeo.com/104810891

  7. Reposting part of my comment from Reddit, where this interview was shared:

    “There’s something slightly disingenuous about a sex writer who doesn’t involve herself in her studies. I really have no love for any author who studies another country’s sex culture from a “safe” distance and is afraid of getting their hands (and other body parts) dirty.”

    • Charlie

      Hi Tom,

      How do you know that she’s afraid of getting her hands dirty or hasn’t dated in China? I don’t know that she has, but I’m curious as to your source of this information.

      The books I’m used to reading on sex, or evolutionary biology, are written by people who never mention their experiences (The Red Queen by Matt Ridley or Sperm Wars by Robin Baker). Those authors are qualified to speak as scientists, but Jemimah’s book looks at this from a cultural perspective which is more open to subjective experience and interpretation.

      In my opinion spending years living in the country and interacting with this demographic, along with her decade plus of professional writing experience, are sufficient qualifiers for a project of this scope. I can’t speak on the content of the actual book as I haven’t read it (it’s on my reading list), but just my $0.02.

      I look forward to reading the book, my only gripe is that this book costs more than almost all books I read. The suggested retail price for the e-book is $29, which is pretty obnoxious, but it’s still over $15 on Amazon.

      • I guess for me personally, having read nearly every imaginable book on the topic of sexuality in China [click on my name to view my reading list], from scholarly texts to novels, I’ve grown bored by the prevalence of “white person looking in” narratives. It’s been done to death and I don’t see how yet another Caucasian “China expert” writing about the mating habits of the natives (and I say that phrase with a faux scholarly accent) contributes anything new despite maybe citing some updated statistics or technological advances (e.g. the Momo prostitution scandal).

        No, it is certainly not a requirement for the writer to get down and dirty or even involve herself with her subjects, and I know most scientific communities would discourage it, but I believe that so much more can be gleaned about a culture and society from pillow talk than formal interviews and anthropological observations.

        This is exactly why I applaud an author like Isham Cook, who accomplishes the rare dual task of giving readers an intimate perspective of China’s sex culture at large by writing about his own decadent experiences. True, many readers have faulted him for his superfluous prose and overly-long musings such as “On Yellow Fever”, but the stories in his latest work “Massage and the Writer” will give you deeper insight into the sexuality of the Chinese than all the other works on my reading list combined, including the latest addition, “Little Emperors and Material Girls”.

        I applaud Ms. Steinfeld for her literary contribution, as I applaud all writers who strive to keep the dying medium of literature alive, and for lay readers in the West who don’t actually live here I’m sure her book provides an informative general overview of the topic, but as someone who has been here over a decade and seen it all, done it all – and read it all – her book is not for me.

        (FYI I encourage the support of authors by purchasing their works, but since her publishers have chosen to make her book available for free on Google Books, you can peruse it there)

        • Charlie

          Thank you for your reply Tom. What you say makes a lot of sense and your knowledge of books in this niche is impressive. I haven’t read Isham Cook but I appreciate the recommendation, I saved Massage & The Writer to my reading list.

        • Dan

          Thanks for the thorough reply. I’ll give Mr. Cook another chance 😀

    • Dan

      Oh oh let me re-post my response to your comment on Reddit here! Might lead to more discussion:

      “I’ve read neither the book nor the Reuters interview, but disingenuous is a pretty strong charge. I’d only use that word if:

      1) Chinese relationships with foreigners are explicitly detailed in her book
      2) She falls into an overlapping demographic category with the youths she was studying

      Injecting oneself into the topic of study isn’t a requirement. But if those two points above are indeed the case, then I agree that she has not done her job 100%.

      I read your comment on the other thread recommending Isham Cook. I’ve only read Isham Cook’s “On Yellow Fever” – pardon me, it’s been a while since I read it – and while I found it refreshingly honest, it was also overly braggadocious, defensive, and cast a bit too wide of a net, filled with several hundred too many words and dozens of unnecessary references and subtopics.

      In the end, though, my feelings on the topic of writing about sex culture, you’re either writing about your own experience and extrapolating or you’re writing about sex culture at large. Including yourself can be distracting or just open you to charges of myopia. Perhaps she was trying to avoid those pitfalls.”

    • Zak

      Hey Tom. Thanks for your comments.

      I talked with Jemimah about this issue quite a lot before the interview. It falls into a tricky gray zone with a book of this nature: where to draw the line between personal life and book content?

      Jemimah was very open about her experience in the dating world here in China. She has dated Chinese men, though not extensively. She made a point of explaining how her book is about attitudes towards and surrounding sex, not actual positions. In this case, the bulk of the former can be gleaned without the latter.

      It is a tricky genre. I think foreign males writing about it risk falling into the sexual imperialist ickiness, the foreign teacher who comes here to live an easy life and sleep with a lot of local girls. There is much resentment in the Chinese community towards this archetype: the line “Those with no girlfriends back home can come to China and get two” pops up on the Chinese web as a major self-reprimand from the Chinese community. Richard Burger’s book, while hugely informative, ran the risk of being perceived as creepy.

      I hope to read a book on Chinese romantic culture written by a young Chinese person. Now, there seems to be a climate for a book that is experimental without being radical. Before it seemed that if it were to get published it had to be a type of Ma Jian outsider’s story, or Chun Shu’s Beijing Wawa (probably not translating this correctly), a story of sexual rebellion. There seems to be space for a story of experimentation guided by a more mainstream set of ideals and traditional thought.

      You have quite the serious list of books related to Chinese sex. You’ve thought about contributing to the field, no? Would be very curious to what you think is right in addition to showing what might be off center.We’d be happy to consider it for CL!

      • “Contributing to the field”, heh, that’s one way of putting it 😉

        I think my defining moment in the genre was my brothel story in the Unsavory Elements anthology. I was crucified by many an expat ‘zine scene book reviewer (who for some reason seem to be predominantly British females), but that “fempat fallout” opened long-closed doors of discussion about our prurient interests here, and also inspired China-based writers such as Isham Cook to come out of obscurity and publish their own sordid tales. So I’m happy to have martyred myself in the name of literature, but don’t expect any more lads-night-out revelations from me.

        At the risk of getting your site shut down by the higher powers, I’d suggest giving Isham an interview. Your discussion with Jemimah was an excellent read and I’d like to see how you approach an “icky imperialist” like Isham.

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