The short preface at the beginning of "Airs of Zheng, 75-95" in The Book Of Songs brings up an interesting point with regard to this set of poems' "licentiousness." It states that commentators beginning with Confucius have "long disparaged this large set of poems," and it attributes that displeasure over this set of poems to the "strong voice it gives to female desire."
This is a wonderful illustration of the close relationship between the artist, the art itself, and the audience - which, in my opinion, is central to the value of any piece of art, be it poetry, drama, music, anything really.
Firstly, it begs the question of what the purpose of the artist was in writing these songs. Was it possibly something empowering to be able to not-so-subtly express female desire, in a society where this could've been largely a taboo topic? Was there something cathartic about it? Was it a purely personal expression of emotion, or was it intended to say something for the women of the time at large?
The reaction is even more interesting - the fact that these songs were disparaged, considered of less worth than other songs within the book, seems to indicate that the commentators did not really want people taking notice of the ideas presented in these songs. This seems to be an admittance to the power of art to move people - to make them question society's taboos and assumptions. It makes you realise that songs were really placed on high ground in terms of shaping a society, showing how an artist's work could really affect the audience interpreting that art.. Commentators could have simply ignored a song they didn't agree with by virtue of the fact that it wasn't a 'good song' to them, but the fact that they made it a point to indicate that these songs were actually less worthy than other songs seems to show that they wanted to discourage people from following the ideas presented there.
Feels almost like an early form of censorship!