The Women’s Kingdom
Just east of the city of Shangri-La, lies a beautiful lake that stands before a village called Luoshui. Most Chinese know this area as Women’s Kingdom—a place where the women do not accept many of society’s rules. These villagers belong to an ethnic group called Mosuo, which has an estimated population of 30,000 to 50,000. The people are Tibetan Buddhists and they speak their own language. This society is considered to be the country’s last matriarchy.
Mosuo women don’t believe in marriage and don’t practice it in the traditional way. They have a system they call a walking marriage. Basically, a man walks into a woman’s bedroom at night and she decides whether she wants him to stay. He must leave in the morning, though, but he may come back if she wants him to. These couples don’t share assets, don’t sign any agreements, and work independently.
Singing and dancing are an important part of Mosuo culture and it’s not uncommon to find people singing as they go about their daily chores. In recent years a lot of tourists have started visiting the area and so the villagers willingly sing and dance to entertain the tourists every night.
However, what attract the tourists are the exotic possibilities of free love. What they don’t understand is that this lifestyle is not prostitution at all, it’s simply the freedom a woman has to control her choices.
Mosuo people are very expressive with their affection. The men seem to know what they want and are direct in pursuing it. Female tourists are very attracted to these men, too, especially because they are handsome and very manly.
Mosuo children don’t grow up with their fathers. Their mothers and the mother’s family raise them. Uncles play a more important role than fathers, and it’s not uncommon for young children to grow up with many uncles around because they are in charge of taking care of the younger ones while the women work.
Unlike in other Chinese cultures, Mosuo women are actually proud of being female. At the age of 13 they start to wear dresses and skits and are then able to begin looking for a man to father their children. At this age they also get their own room and are able to participate in discussions about sex, as long as the men are not around.
As modernization seeps into the villages, a few of the Mosuo traditions are at risk. Many of the younger generations want to leave to get to know the world. Few of them want to come back. One girl states that women on the outside are more beautiful and she immediately berates herself for being chubbier than the images she has been looking at in magazines.
Although it’s true that tourism has enhanced their standard of living, it has brought many disadvantages. Pollution and a misrepresentation of the culture are just a few. Watch this film now.