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Modern take on adultery and morality

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2014-07-12 06:54


Modern take on adultery and morality

Wang Xiaoying / China Daily

Adultery falls into the realm of morality, yet it often manifests itself as a corollary of one's social position. As such, it tends to be perceived in the context of power or money.

Modern take on adultery and morality

Savior or showman, saint or sinner?

Modern take on adultery and morality

Matter of honor and duty to care

A spate of recent announcements from the ongoing relentless campaign against corruption has caught my attention for a subtle change in language.

To most, in the past, adultery used to refer to something simpler. The word was the officially sanctioned euphemism for "abnormal male-female relations" - but now it is also starting to cover a litany of offenses, in an effort to almost increase its shock value.

Because adultery used to be called something else, having the word "adultery" only now making its first official appearance in the litany of offenses, seems almost shocking.

I have to admit that the bluntness is a bit disorienting.

You see, I'm accustomed to "abnormal male-female relations", which had been the approved description for as long as I can remember.

Accuse me of a lack of imagination, but I never bothered to find out how abnormal was "abnormal" even when I was a child. Other places had colorful slang terms such as "broken shoes", but in my hometown the official jargon had seeped into everyday conversation a la current-day memes.

As I grew older, I started to hear of stories how some rural areas treated their offenders over "abnormal male-female relations" and, gosh, they were lurid.

They could involve young couples in extramarital affairs being stripped naked and paraded around the whole village.

Now that I look back, I can understand why so many were obsessed with other people's infidelity.

In that era, it was the only channel of voyeurism open to the public and the collective excitement from the festive mood served to elevate everyone onto a moral high ground albeit subconsciously.

In recent decades, people have learned that adultery between consenting adults is a more private matter.

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