The China Quarterly

Research Article

Re-examining the Impact of the 1950 Marriage Law: State Improvisation, Local Initiative and Rural Family Change

Neil J. Diamant

Many peasants misunderstand the Marriage Law. They blindly emphasize that the Marriage Law “liberated” them. This is the case for some women in particular, who have become very unconventional and dissolute in their sexual relations. They have several partners at once, and often switch among them, choosing whichever man appeals to them on that particular day. They also recklessly flirt with many men.

We [provincial authorities] demand the basic-level cadres desist from monitoring adultery and sex, forcing confessions, humiliating and tying people up, hanging, beating, and organizing struggle sessions [against women seeking divorce].