Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The last matriarchy

I don't know if many of you have seen this post, it was one of my first. But I really love it! In a series of amazingly beautiful photographs, Italian photographer Luca Locatelli documents the lives of the Mosuo tribe. They are often described as one of the last matriarchal societies in the world. Where women see this as their kingdom.

Here,  women are in charge. There isn't even a word for terms we describe as "father" or "husband", Luca says. This place is known as the "Kingdom of Women". Throughout China, 40,000 Mosuo people live in a series of villages around the lake.

Women here, are the ones who make most of the household and political decisions in the community; they control household finances, have the rightful ownership of land and houses, and full rights to the children born to them –this is very different to the arranged marriages that are practiced in other parts of China.

From the age of 13, the women may choose who to marry, take as lovers, having as many or as few as they desire over their lifetime, without being branded a 'slut', as they would be in many other cultures. The men living in these villages have jobs such as fishing and animal rearing, and visit the a woman's home at night.

I find this place and the women so beautiful. It seems like such a mystical and different world. Not to say that women in South Africa or in other countries aren't in control of their lives, but it is to say that patriarchy is still the order of many cultures. Women are often in charge of most of the decisions made in a household, it's just that these decisions are often not highly valued. How can we effectively move towards a society that does not have any gender hierarchy?

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