A typical Chinese wedding celebration includes a banquet attended by families and friends, binge-drinking, and games that, depending on the newlywed’s luck, range from harmless fun to utter humiliation.
The wedding stunts, staged by guests before the bride leaves her home or after the banquet, are usually filled with sexual innuendos, such as asking the couple to get under a blanket and throw out all their clothes, or making the bride eat a sausage while squatting under the groom’s crotch.
A Chinese city is now banning these “vulgar” wedding games that have come under increasing criticism.
In a notice issued last week, the Zouping city in the northern province of Shandong said wedding guests would be banned from stripping, tying up, or putting chains on the bride and groom.
Guests are also banned from humiliating or sexually harassing the bride and bridesmaids, such as kissing or hugging them against their wills, according to the notice.
Other forbidden practices include applying or pouring “foreign objects” onto the body of the newlywed, forcing them to make “indecent” performances, and making them wear “indecent” signs.
Those who violate the rules could be given administrative or criminal penalties, the notice says.
The ban reflects a cultural shift as young urban Chinese increasingly see the games as distasteful, although the custom remains popular in some regions in China, especially rural areas.
Extreme cases of wedding hazing have previously made national headlines.
In 2018, friends of a 24-year-old groom in the southwestern province of Guizhou stripped him to his underwear and poured ink all over him. The groom was then hit by a car as he was running away from the friends, according to Chinese media reports.
And in Shandong province, two teenage bridesmaids were sexually harassed at a wedding in 2013, leaving one of them with post-traumatic stress disorder, authorities said. At least six men were later jailed on molestation charges.
Many internet users responding to news of the ban say they are against the prevalent sexual harassment at weddings, but some also question whether or not the newlyweds will actually report their guests to authorities if they are simply following a wedding tradition.
Yang Hu, a sociologist at Lancaster University, wrote in a 2016 column on the Conversation that the wedding stunts tend to target women in regions with more traditional gender norms, while the games are sometimes played on groomsmen in places with more liberal gender norms.
“Although sex remains a taboo in the public sphere for most Chinese people, wedding occasions seem to legitimize the explicit expression of sexual desire for some men, which can result in sexual harassment and abuse in some instances,” he wrote, adding that many female victims might choose to remain silent.
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