In the Himalayan foothills of China, there is a Kingdom of Women. The Mosuo people are an ancient branch of Buddhist monks who formed a matrilineal society, separate from the rest of the Chinese culture. Essentially, the women are the traditional leaders and decision makers rather than the men.
Women in the Mosuo villages are revered and respected, and lead large extended families. They put in some serious hard work — even older women stay physically strong by doing farm work and carrying heavy loads of supplies. While men might not be the leaders, they still do their fair share and everyone is treated equally.
In patriarchal societies, women tend to be given limited opportunities and are frequently dismissed as being less strong or intelligent. Some Chinese women see the Mosuo way of life as an escape from that environment, a place where women are free to live however they choose.
This female-run village in China is not alone; there are several places around the world where the ladies are also the traditional leaders. In a world that, for the most part, is just starting to fight for the rights of women, it seems we could all take a page out of these ladies' books.
In The 'Kingdom Of Daughters,' Girls Are Preferred Over Boys
In all other areas of China, baby boys are preferred over baby girls. Because of the one-child policy, girls are sometimes abandoned. In the Mosuo villages, the preference is the opposite- though thankfully they don't abandon baby boys. Both genders have an equal division of work within the community, and are treated with fairness by the opposite sex. However, it is females that have the pride of leadership, and are celebrated as givers of life.
They Practice 'Walking Marriages,' Often Misunderstood As 'Free Love'
While other parts of Chinese society put social status first when choosing a partner, the Mosuo set being in love as their top priority. Their tradition of "walking marriages" is often misunderstood by Chinese tourists, who simply see it as "free love."
The marriages are not marriages in the traditional sense. They are an agreement made between two people who are in love, and if they are no longer in love they part peacefully. The "walking" comes from the tradition of couples living separately. Men live either with their families or alone, and visit their wife's home at her discretion only for meals, sex, and to sleep.
Women Are The Heads Of The Households, With Men Not Usually Involved In Raising Their Own Children
Mosuo women are responsible for the running of the house, including cooking, cleaning, and childcare. In Mosuo culture, children are usually raised by their mother, grandmother (the head of the house), aunts and uncles. There actually is no word for "aunt" in their language, since all of the women of the family play a mothering role to the children.
Although the fathers are traditionally not expected to play a large role in their kids's lives, they do participate. Some fathers watch their own little ones while the women work, and participate throughout their lives. But most of the time, men are more heavily involved in the raising of their sisters' children. No child is ever "fatherless," they simply share many father figures.
There Are Some Key Western Concepts Missing From Their Language
The language of the Mosuo people, which is an oral tradition with no written form, does not include the words for husband, jealousy, rape, or murder. The absence of these words is very telling when it comes to their culture — there is a high level of respect among members of the community. Relationships between men and women are conducted with mutual respect and dignity, and crime is very minimal.