April 8, 2009

Lugu (Paradise Heaven) Lake, China

An Estrogen Epiphany beneath the hat of The Mosuo Cowboy

Are you tired of having the romance of a passionate night of lovemaking evaporate with the light of the moon as you are forced to listen to your partner obliviously snore and fart next to you? Wouldn’t you like to kick him out so you could get a few hours of quiet sleep before you start the day?


Don’t you find it annoying that we have to shclep around a growing fetus for nine months and then, when it’s born, squeeze fragments of our female names in between the small crevices of the dominant names of our male partners? Isn’t it frustrating to think that if things don’t work out with the marriage that our children will be walking around with the last names of our ex’s, as if an appendage ridden with gangrene? Wouldn’t it just be smarter for the children to take our last name, you know, just in case?

Are you tired of being the receptionist to the businessman, the nurse to the male doctor, the maid in the hotel or the entertainment at Vegas? Are you tired of working twice as hard to play at the big boy’s ball field, usually for less pay? Wouldn’t it be nice to be in a high power position or own a business and have an army of nice, strong and smart men working for you, no questions asked?

Finally Ladies!
Aren’t you tired of being marginalized just because you are wearing a vagina?

Great News Ladies! I found the answer!
I invite you to come to the matriarchal paradise of Lugu Lake in Yunnan Province and experience first hand what it feels like to look a man in the eyes and say, “Well Podner’, looks like them there tables you built and I own are turned, now aren't they?”

With the intention of getting off the tourist track a bit, Peter from England, a fellow Tiger Leaping Gorger who was heading the same direction, and I decided to follow the back roads North through Yunnan. Little did I know, as our bus was pulling into the quiet village surrounding Lugu Lake, that I had finally found my philosophical paradise.
Close in proximity and facial features to the Tibetans, the Mosuo people are one of the last functioning matriarchal societies on the globe and a complete inspiration to the feminist within.

So how does this work?
The Musuo women form the core of society whereby they choose their partner(s), give the children their names, own most of the businesses and have property passed down through the female lineage.

Walking Marriages
When a Mosuo girl hits the proper age, she is given a private room in the families crowded quarters and starts choosing desired partners for the night. By societal law, she also reserves the right to kick, yes kick, him out before the sun comes up, or sooner, in the event he is talking back or under-performing. She can stick with one or she can choose a different one for each night of the week. For instance, if Exhibit A is more of a party type, perhaps he is then slated for the Saturday night slot, while Exhibit B might display a more reserved and responsible nature, in which case he would be selected for Sunday or Monday nights.
I awoke early one morning to catch a sunrise from the dorm window, and I kid you not, I saw quite a few straggler men walking around town. I can’t say for sure, but they looked like they were in the process of being good husbands and living by the rules of the walking marriage…that’s right darling, walk… walk on until I call you back next Tuesday. And it didn’t surprise me at all because the old women of the village, wrapped in traditional dress and spinning prayer wheels, looked as though they would not only kick the men out the bedroom but also kick their ass should the need arise.
My instinct was telling me that all of this fabulousness couldn’t possibly be true. Wasn’t this utopia of powerful estrogen just a figment of my overactive, wishful imagination?
No! Low and behold, one day Peter and I found a café at the water’s edge where a young man came out to greet us. I said to him that his café was lovely and his response was one of an almost snorting laughter and then he proceeded to clarify that the café was not his. Soon after, a young girl came out and greeted us just like the owner that she was.

Andriana finds (a possible) Mr. Saturday Night
Without solid plans, Peter and I followed a group of Chinese tourists to another village where we opted to leave the official Youth Hostel to those who wanted to go to bed at eight p.m and chose, instead, to lodge at the place next door, which gave off a wild west vibe and had a bunch of young Mosuo studs running around with soft, brown skin adorned with bone necklaces and long, black hair tucked under leather cowboy hats. Just as men who own restaurants or bars hire pretty girls to attract business from the opposite sex, the woman running this particular guesthouse definitely knew exactly how to attract the ladies. I am not quite sure how entertaining this all was for Peter, but did I care? No. We were in Mosuo territory and things in this region were my call.
It was during a huge acapella Karaoke session in the bar, where I sung a crackly rendition of the Christos Anesti (the Greek Easter Song) and Peter sung his best Jingle Bells to a room packed full with Chinese tourists, that I found my Mr. Saturday Night. Whatever His Name Was (does it matter? I can give him a new one right?) was entertaining the crowd by singing traditional Mosuo songs, and I became captivated by his drunk enthusiasm. He spoke no English and I didn’t actually have a credible Mosuo Mama Account yet, so the only thing exchanged between us were our hats for a few minutes; I wore his cowboy hat and he wore the fake traditional Naxi hat I had picked up in Lijiang. But even though we never consummated the relationship beyond our hat swap, I was comforted with Consummation Security, knowing that, in the future, when I come back to make Lugu Paradise Heaven my home, if things were not as they seemed in the bar that night with The Mosuo Cowboy that I legally reserve the right to kick him to the curb!


Dan5280 said...

Amazing, as usual. I want to go climbing on those cliffs! Miss you Andriana.

Lots of love,


Suzi said...

Woman to Woman-
You just swapped hats...and that was that?!!
I don't know how you did it...or rather, didn't.

p.s. my son has my last name...it just makes sense.

love ya-

aunt suzi


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