Do you think that the ‘Kingdom of Women’ is a real place? How do you imagine such a possibility? How does this idea make you feel? Well, I love this idea, and I can assure you that we have a kingdom of women each time we’re meeting on our monthly Yoni Wise group. I would love to weave this concept into the everyday world as well. I suppose this is a dream of each woman living in a society where men are always the bosses. Like the song claims ‘This is a man’s world’ – but what if I told you that there is a place on this planet where women are the bosses. Where no decision is made until the Grandmother says so. I’m thinking here about the Mosuo women.
The Mosuo are a small ethnic group living in the Himalayas. They were named by the Chinese ‘Kingdom of Women’. Why? Because it is a matriarchal and matrilineal society with a very interesting lifestyle. First of all men and women are seen as equal, but it is the woman sitting as the head of each family. In this society concept of marriage doesn’t exist. Sexual activity occurs only by mutual consent and mostly through the custom of the secret nocturnal visits. Men and women are free to have multiple partners. Both boys and girls are raised equally and both learn to express sexuality to the same degree. This is matrilineal society, which means that the descent is traced by the female line. The Mosuo men practise tisese which is translated as ‘walking marriage’ in Chinese. However, for Mosuo this term means ‘goes back and forth’. Women have the choice of inviting men into their sleeping rooms, and men have the choice to accept or refuse the offer. If they accept, after spending the night together, the men will go back to their mother’s home in the morning. Although a Mosuo woman is allowed to change partners whenever she likes, she can also chose to have only one sexual partner. If children are born from that union, they become the responsibility of the woman’s family. In Mosuo society women own and inherit property, sow crops, and run the household; men provide strength, and help with familial decisions, but the last word always belongs to the Grandmother. Men also have the responsibility not as fathers, but as uncles to their sister’s children. Nowadays it is a culture not free from pressure. The western way of thinking weaves its way into this society as well and the idea of marriage takes hold in the hearts of young Mosuo people. I’m not saying that there is something wrong with marriage. I just find the idea of having the relationship without possession very refreshing. Also very refreshing I found the approach and believe that women are more valuable and intellectually superior to men. Maybe this culture is a mirror image of mythological Amazons – beautiful and fierce women warriors.
What is interesting though is that in the Mosuo culture crime is minimal and there are no words in their language for murder or rape. For me it’s mind blowing! Sadly, in the UK more than 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced rape or sexual assault as adults. That means there are nearly 5 million women in England and Wales who have experienced at least one of these offences in adulthood alone. Statistics show that 618,000 women and 155,000 men experienced rape or sexual assault in the year 2019-2020. That’s more than 70 women in England and Wales experiencing at least one of these offences every hour.
I don’t think there will be a possibility of a matriarchy in the western culture – but, oh boy, we need it! – But as women we could make sure that we will introduce the culture of sisterhood into our everyday life. To be honest whenever in life I felt ugly, or fat or really self-conscious, it was mostly due to other women. Why do we judge ourselves so harshly? Why so often are we so cruel to each other? We are living in a man’s world and we are trying to be so much harsher than men. Do we think this would help us to survive? But what if I told you that we can survive better if we find strength in our sisterhood, togetherness in our womanhood? When women come together in a circle magic happens. I witness it over and over again in our Yoni Wise meetings – the support, the love, the holding in non-judgmental embrace – all that gives us space to grow, to explore, to share. And in sharing stories we can create space for new ones to be born, new stories in our new image. Not the oppressed women, not the scared women, not the whores who brought it all on themselves, but women free to choose our lives, free to explore, free to do the storytelling and myths of our origins. Brave and awakened women of new times, we need a tribe! A tribe of sisters holding hands in merriness and in difficulty, helping us to birth and raise our children, supporting grey hair, lost lovers, and passing of time. We need grandmothers telling us the stories of their past, so lessons can be learned and new generations enlightened in the wisdom of respect and togetherness. I need a tribe of sisters in Sacred Feminine. We are passing and changing, but the Sacred Feminine always has been, always is and always will be. Sadly, so many of us have been disconnected from her for such a long time. We have forgotten this path and its mysteries trying to catch up with men and to be better. And what if I told you that we are all one being? That in reality there is only one of us? And if this is true, if I am you and you are me, all our feelings of competition and jealousy are not valid anymore. Because if I am you, I have everything that you have and I am everything that you are. And if you are me – you have everything I have and you are everything I am. For so long we as women have been subjected to projections of fear, guilt, shame, anger, hate, and it all is taking our power away. Living in a man’s world is hard as it is, let’s not add any more suffering and misery to it. Let us find our strengths and togetherness. Look around you; I’m sure your life is filled with other women – mothers, sisters, grandmothers, teachers, neighbours, friends, strangers you pass each day on the way to work. Look at them and think – they are me. We are the same. Then open your arms and welcome them into your tribe, into the kingdom of women, where no one is alone, where the weave of support joins us all. Where we can learn and laugh together, where there will always be a shoulder to cry on and arms to embrace us. Where there will be no judgment but sustenance and sisterhood. We carry so much strength and power within ourselves and with the right support we can and will change the world. So why not do it together? And it is worth remembering the other part of the lyric of the song I quoted at the beginning. Maybe this is a man’s world… ‘But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl’. Let’s find our strength and our tribe.
- Choo WaiHong, The kingdom of women. Life, love and death in China’s Hidden Mountains, Tauris Parke, London 2020.
- ‘It’s Man’s Man’s world’ by James Brown.