What if women ruled the world? Well, world would definitely be very different. If the women called the shots then a lot of religions would have been conceived differently for one thing! At the very least the “Heavens” would have good looking men as opposed to Virgin women or good-looking “Apsaras”… isn’t it? Why would women keep women in the Heavens? Thats the perversity of the men. We can’t get them here, so we have an aspiration to get ’em there!
Argentinian writer Ricardo Coler decided to find this out and spent two months with the Mosuo in southern China. Musuo is a matriarchical society where the women call the shots. When we say women call the shots – it means they rule, they own everything, they decide the policies, they set the standards for the society to live by.
So what happens when women are at the helm of the society?
- Less or no violence: Women do not solve their problems by violence. Now, we are not talking of a woman minister or ruler in a man’s world (like say Indira Gandhi), but in a society that is built ground-up AS as women’s oriented society! In fact violence is supposed to be something to be ashamed of. Women simply have a different way of ‘dominating’. Violence is not part of that.
- Men work less: Now, this is counterintuitive! But think of it like this – women own the money.. they earn it.. so who does more work? Even if a man was to do some work, he will be paid less anyways. So, man’s work is very restricted. There is not much he can do. In fact, to women in a matriarchical society, men can be little more than sex toys.
- Birth of a boy is a catastrophe: When a boy is born in a family, then its tragedy for that family.. as men control no money… only women do. So, boy means more poverty. Girls are the only way to a long term prosperity for a “family”. A man’s role is very limited – do labor or be a way to satisfy the women.
- Sex power means Women choose!: Now, in a man’s world, the prostitutes are almost always women. Women are used and abused. Men decide to change a woman a night and go on. Well in a matriarchical society, the mores remain the same, but the roles change! It is best explained by Coler in these words:
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.
So, men live in what could be really what we, in the rest of the world, know as a “brothel” and women pick and choose their pleasure object for the night and unless they are really satisfied, the guy doesn’t get to be with the same woman again.
Now, in Musuo, the concept of marriage is not there. In fact marriage is used as a scenario of punishment. Kids are threatened to be married off if they don’t behave good. The idea is why unnecessarily hook people up when they are not in love? So, is there no concept of “love”, other than sex? Yes, there is. But should love lead to “partnership”? Coler explains the scenario in Musuo this way:
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.
Osho, who is infamous for his “free sex” communes, but who was one of the greatest thinkers and seers in last century said very aptly, that the “Institution of Marriage” is an Immoral institution. Not “a” marriage. But the “Institution” of this partnership is it self immoral. Because, based on a contract it forces people to stick together. It is NOT the power of love, but the arbitrary power that state or priests take on themselves to forcibly put two people – many a times unwilling – together. If “love” is forced, is that love? If love is not the reason for a communion, then is that communion even worth protecting? Haven’t marriages become an instrument of subjugation instead of a means of advancement?
The argument is powerful and, in my view, very logical. Of course, we cannot come out of our prevalent thinking and so cannot appreciate Osho’s radical but true observation.
What I found interesting and very radical in this small society in China was that they dissociate children from marriage. They hold children to be the “property” of women – their mothers. Fathers have little or no rights over them. So are children taken care of? Yes, they are and women raise them without the need for men. This question best answers or explains the strange role of a “father” in the Musuo society:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do the Mosuo actually have a word for “father”?
Coler: Yes, there is a word 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.
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