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Moso community is a community in Southwest China, which is headed by a woman (Yang and Christine, p. 272). The community does not believe in marriage, and hence practices a walking or visiting marriage known as Tisese (Luo, p. 15). The men do not play any significant role in their children’s lives, as their mothers’ do all the duties. The women are responsible for all of the responsibilities, thus making the community a matriarchal one.
The sexual division of labor in the Moso community is mainly the women’s responsibility. The women do not get married, but instead, give birth to their men through a walking marriage (Yang and Christine, p. 276). The women are the ones who give their children their surname. The children born out of these relationships belong to the mothers’, and not their fathers’. The family’s older males, better known as uncles, fulfill the fatherly parental role of the children. The adult males in this community play their roles in the matrilineal houses because this is where they live, and not in their partners’ houses. When they visit their partners, they become guests (Yang and Christine, p. 277). The sexual relationships that the community observes do not include any obligations, do not hold any contracts and are nonexclusive. The men only visit the women during the night hours and leave before the day starts. Their relationships are more social than economical and can be ended at any time by one of the couples (Luo, p. 16).
As defined by Scott, the only major way of showing power relationships is through gender (Luo, p. 16). There is a correspondence between social relationships organization changes and power representations changes. What makes the difference is the change in direction, which must not be one way (Luo, p. 15). An example is along Lake Lugu where there is a village known as Xia Luoshui, which practices a collective system (Yang and Christine, p. 285). A committee has been chosen by the village members to manage tourism in the area. They have agreed that every household should contribute to labor and goods, and there would be equal sharing of benefits amongst themselves. In the private sphere, women in the community are nowadays housekeepers who work as cleaners, receptionists, and cooks. This is as opposed to about 40% who used to work in public, as collectives’ political leaders in the 1950s (Yang and Christine, p. 285).
The Moso community affirms Miles’s statement that the social division of labor’s exploitative nature forms the basis of power relationships inequality between men and women. This is because women in the Moso community are given the authority over family, they manage the wealth of the family, they co own the property of the family, they are the ones who take care of the ancestors, and they own their own blood (Yang and Christine, p. 279). They have also been given the freedom and the right to sexual relations, which most parts of the world have not thought about (Yang and Christine, p. 285).
As defined by Miles, I think that Moso women have more autonomy because they do not rely on men for financial assistance. They also do not depend on them in order for their children to be taken care of, since they do it alone. The fact that they do not get married gives them the sexual autonomy of choosing the partners they want, as well as ending the relationship whenever they wish to. They also possess autonomy in that they decide on the period they wish to stay without giving birth after a delivery (Luo, p. 15).
As the Moso community is exposed to the outside world, observable changes have been witnessed. Because of this interaction, conditions have changed for women in that the economy is changing, and hence, they are trying to find a different life and to make more money (Yang and Christine, p. 285). The women have also started practicing marriage and giving their children their fathers’ names (Luo, p. 40). The introduction of television has made most of them leave the kingdom and go to urban centers to search for jobs or to search for adventures. Most of them eventually return to the community, as they find the urban life different from the cultural community they are used to.
As time is progressing, the community is starting to embrace some of the things they considered culturally wrong. Women are embracing the roles of becoming mothers and responsible wives. They have started getting married and enjoying family life. Children have started going to school and embracing education. Fathers have started to take the role of family heads and are giving their children their family names. Tourists have been attracted to the area due to these people’s unique way of living.
- Luo, Chia-Ling. The Gender Impact of Modernization Among the Matrilineal Moso in China. Rotterdam: Erasmus University, 2008. Print.
- Yang, Erche N, and Christine Mathieu. Leaving Mother Lake: A Girlhood at the Edge of the World. Boston: Little, Brown, 2003. Print.