Saturday, June 6, 2009

If Women Were In Charge

The Mosuo people of southern China have a matriarchal society. I came across a fascinating article on the German website Spiegel written by a male Argentinian writer, Ricardo Coler, who spent two months wth the Mosuo. Here are a few choice quotes for you to enjoy.

On whether the society is a feminist's paradise:
"I had expected to find an inverse patriarchy. But the life of the Mosuo has absolutely nothing to do with that. Women have a different way of dominating. When women rule, it's part of their work. They like it when everything functions and the family is doing well. Amassing wealth or earning lots of money doesn't cross their minds. Capital accumulation seems to be a male thing. It's not for nothing that popular wisdom says that the difference between a man and a boy is the price of his toys."

On the most astonishing thing about the culture:
"That there is no violence in a matriarchal society. I know that quickly slips into idealization - every human society has its problems. But it simply doesn't make sense to the Mosuo women to solve conflicts with violence. Because they are in charge, nobody fights. They don't know feelings of guilt or vengeance - it is simply shameful to fight. They are ashamed if they do and it even can threaten their social standing."

On love in the Mosuo society:
"The sexual life of the Mosuo is very distinctive and very active - partners are changed frequently. But the women decide with whom they want to spend the night. Their living quarters have a main entrance but every adult woman lives in her own small hut. The men live together in a large house. The door of every hut is fitted with a hook and all the men wear hats. When a man visits a woman, he hangs his hat on the hook. That way, everybody knows that this woman has a male visitor. And nobody else knocks on the door. If a woman falls in love, then she receives only the specific man and the man comes only to that woman."

On partnership:
"Love is more important for them than partnership. They want to be in love. The one reason to be with another person is love. They aren't interested in getting married or starting a family with a man. When the love is over, then it's over. They don't stay together for the kids or for the money or for anything else."

On fatherhood:
"There is a word [for fatherhood] but nothing like our concept of what a father should be. These duties are taken over by the mother or the family. Often, the women don't know which man is responsible for the pregnancy. So the children also don't know who their biological father is. But for the women it is usually not important because the men barely work and have little control over things of material value. The family is what's important and they would never separate themselves from it."

How different would our world be if women were in charge?

The full article can be found here.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Hi CaveMother....Just getting back from a week full of camping and empty of internet connection. This is a fascinating post and I'm looking forward to learning more about the Mosuo!