This publication examines the changing relationships between sex and money in contemporary China. Factors such as marriage or other forms of sexual expression still impact upon access to resources, whilst financial and economic status impacts dramatically upon access to sex and partners, as well as opportunities for pleasure and sexual expression. Unspoken assumptions in current national and international development policies and practices contribute to the creation of heteronormative economic structures that exclude people who do not fit within narrow sexuality and gender norms.
The author focuses upon the findings arising from a participatory workshop ‘Sexuality and Economy’ that took place with a number of individuals marginalised as a result of their sexual identity. The workshop was run by Pink Space NGO Beijing and the Institute of Development Studies Sexuality and Development Programme in July 2010.
The discussion revealed that whilst development policies and programmes focus on poverty reduction and economic growth, many people on low incomes still believe that exploring their desires around sex, relationships and gender expression are just as important as raising their material standards of living. In parallel, much more work is needed to ensure that poverty alleviation initiatives address the needs of people with stigmatised sexualities.