The Mosuo are an ancient ethnic group in South West China, at the base of the Himalaya. In this society, women make the rules. Grandmothers are the head of the family and property is passed on from mother to daughter.
While a lot of kids all around the world grow up dreaming about their wedding, Mosuo children are different. The concept of marriage does not exist for them. Everyone is single and always stays connected to their own family.
They do have a type of ‘walking marriage’. The rules are simple. If a man’s hat is hanging on a woman’s doorknob, that is a sign for other men to stay away. It can be a one night stand or a partnership for life, but that is up to the woman. Many Mosuo women do not know who the father of their child is. It does not matter, because the fathers do not live with the children. They live in their family home, led by their (grand)mothers.
Women do not just own and inherit all the property, they are also responsible for farming and leading the household. Men mostly do physical labour, like building houses and ploughing the land. The men do have input in decisions, but the women – especially the grandmothers – have the final say.