Sex experts are urging Hong Kongers to strip off their reputation as some of the least active lovers in Asia to get more out of their sex lives and overcome challenges of privacy in a cramped city.
“People say Hong Kongers have the least amount of sexual knowledge in the world. One of the reasons is they have no place to have sex,” said professor Emil Ng, associate director at the Family Institute of the University of Hong Kong.
Financial pressure, career-driven mentalities and limited space are seen as key drivers of a fertility rate that is one of the lowest in the world by some measures, with an average 1.04 births per woman according to the World Bank.
Ng, who believes monogamy in general is “behind the times”, thinks another factor driving Hong Kong’s sexual timidity is sky-high property prices.
Younger Hong Kong residents typically live at home deep into their 20s or 30s because they can’t afford to marry and move out earlier, meaning that many sleep in close proximity to their parents in cramped apartments.
“Hong Kong is too crowded and lacks the privacy people need to have sex,” said Ng, who organised the fifth Hong Kong Sex Cultural Festival which took place last month.
The festival, held jointly by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Sex Education Association, aimed to promote more liberal views on sex in the socially conservative southern Chinese city.
And in a sign that traditional Chinese attitudes towards sex may be changing, a record number of visitors showed up at the recent 2012 China Adult-Care Expo of adult wares in China’s biggest city of Shanghai.
This year’s expo — Asia’s largest trade fair for the adult industry — was the biggest in the event’s nine-year history, attracting thousands of visitors, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported.
When it comes to going under the covers, Hong Kong couples are content with having sex less than twice a week, according to a 2011 survey published by City University’s Community College.
More than half of the women questioned in the Hong Kong survey admitted feigning illness or tiredness to avoid sex when they were not in the mood.
The study of nearly 1,000 adults aged 36 to 80 showed that men were satisfied with having sex an average of 1.9 times a week, while women were content with 1.6 times.
This compares with the top rate of more than three times per week in Greece, more than twice in India and less than once per week in Japan, according to British condom manufacturer Durex, whose 2008 survey found Hong Kongers ranked third lowest in the world in sexual confidence.
“Hong Kong is always near the bottom of the list in terms of sexual frequency in those Durex annual surveys. It may not be a very scientific research, but it still says a lot about Hong Kong,” said Ng.
A similar Durex survey released last year also showed a decline in sexual activity in China. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they were sexually inactive, a 15-percentage point increase from 2006.
The problem is worse for heterosexual women than for men in Hong Kong due to cultural issues tied to status and wealth, and social expectations about the role of women, said Dr Petula Ho, a sexologist from the University of Hong Kong.
Making matters worse for women, they vastly outnumber men in Hong Kong. There is less than one man for every 1.2 women between the ages of 20 and 39, according to official figures from last year.
“Straight women in Hong Kong are in poverty in terms of sex. They have few sexual possibilities and options. Even if you’re a male truck driver, you can find a woman in rural China,” Ho said.