Women In Charge

Monoculture, Marriage

The place of women in China seems to hang somewhere in between progressive, breastfeeding flashmobs and unwanted baby girls abandoned in garbage dumps. But in the area around the Xiaoliangshan Mountains in South East China, the 40,000 women of the Mosuo tribe have no doubt of their position.

The Mosuos are probably one of the last matriarchal societies left in the world. According to their 2000 year old traditions, Mosuo women control the household finances, own land, and pass on the family lineage. They don't have the same concept of marriage as the outside world, and women can take different lovers from within the tribe. Their language doesn't have words for "father", "husband", and more importantly "rape".

What is probably most interesting, though, is that a matriarchy is far from being an "inverse patriarchy". According to the Argentine journalist Ricardo Coler who lived with the Mosuo for two months, "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."


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