Shangri La

woman-surrounded-by-menWhat if, in America, we raised girls on the belief that one-night stands, and temporary relationships are far preferable, not to mention more pleasurable, than tethering to one guy for the rest of their lives?

(Ladies, stop salivating. It’s not attractive.)


Well, if you’re female, and move to The Women’s Kingdom in China, your typical evening may go something like this:

Bootie call. (By you. Not him.)

Orgasmic scream. (Complete with eyes rolled into back of head, curled toes, and after-spasms.)

But this is a real one.

Not one of your Oscar-worthy, what-the-hell-is-he-doing-I’ve-got-to-get-this-over-with orgasmic performances you’ve been conditioned to give in your old culture. (Guys, don’t bother asking. We’ll just assure you that you’re the exception.)

This screaming orgasm is the real deal.


Your spasms subside very gradually. Because it was amazing sex. Because men in this culture are raised to satisfy women instead of themselves.

You roll over, look at your skilled lover through a smoking pleasure fog, and drawl, “Thanks, babe. You can go.”

Your lover gathers you into his immensely muscular arms, pulls you against his bulging, rock hard chest, and looks right into your eyes. He tells you how beautiful, and delectable you are, plants a nether-region-stirring kiss on you, then dresses and walks out the door.

You think, “Yum-mmy! I want me some more of that. That one may last longer than any of the others!”

No, you’re not freebasing testosterone.

You are all woman.

And society caters to you. Not men.

You will never be branded a tainted woman, a slut, a ho. Your sexcapades will never go viral. You will not be looked down upon for reveling in the pleasures of your God-given joy box. You are fully at liberty to exalt in your womanhood without repercussion.

In essence, you are free to live as men do.

Ah, Shangri La….can you imagine?

The Musuo can. Because they live in Shangri La — so renamed by the women of Sichuan Province high in the Tibetan Himalayas of southwest China. In this place, called The Women’s Kingdom by most Chinese, ladies do not abide by the rules that govern ladies throughout the rest of China.

In Shangri La, it’s all about the women.

The Musuo, who call themselves Na, are an ethnic minority group outside the Han (the ethnic majority in China). With a population of 30 to 50,000, the Musuo are considered the country’s last matriarchy. They have their own language, also called Na, and practice Daba — a religion influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, which worships a mother goddess.





Worshipping women.

I am so there.




Though men still do the muscle-work while women do housework, in Shangri La it is women who are heads of households, own property, and make all business decisions. Family lineage is based on the female side of the family. However, it is interesting to note that men still hold the reigns of political power in the providence.

Unlike ancient Roman paterfamilias, the Ah mi (elder female) of a Musuo household has absolute power in deciding the fate of everyone living under her roof. Before she dies, she gives the keys for the family’s household storage to the new matriarch of her choosing. This signifies the passing of the baton of power to the next generation of Ah mi.


Okay, this is all very interesting, you acknowledge politely. But what about the female-initiated bootie calls? The character assassination-free sex??

I hear you.

And here it is in two words: ‘walking marriage’.

Marriage?, you whine. Who said anything about marriage? I thought we were talking about great sex??

What does marriage have to do with great sex?

Absolutely nothing…for the Musuo.

Because they don’t marry.

In Shangri La, there are no husbands, no wives. There is only ‘walking marriage’ — called ‘zou hun’ or ‘tisese‘ — which, in the Na language means, ‘walking back and forth.’

In a ‘walking marriage,’ a Musuo woman chooses a man to make her spasm in the evening, and the man walks home the next morning to do his daily chores in his mother’s household.

Say whaaaaat?

You heard me.

The man comes to service you in the evening, then leaves to service his mother in the morning.

But this ain’t no Mama’s boy. This is the way Musuo women want it.

The Musuo view this type of relationship as beneficial to both parties: each has the freedom to begin and end the relationship at will without all the legal rigmarole of divorce.


As well, a walking marriage discards the typical Chinese preference for the birth of a son over a daughter, along with the consequences of such preference.

In most cultures that favor sons, the daughters leave the family to live with their husband’s family. If a family has only daughters, they lose them all and there is no one to care for the parents in old age. Having sons ensures that not only the sons, but also the sons’ wives will be around to care for elderly parents.

The Musuo, in their practice of ‘walking’ rather than traditional marriage, do not have this problem. Since neither the sons nor daughters ever leave the household, there is always someone there to care for aged parents.

Hmmm…I wonder what the Chinese think of our system of daughters and sons leaving the nest?

And of how we treat our elderly?

As for the youth in Shangri La, when a girl turns 13 she is honored with a coming-of-age ceremony, in which she receives her first skirt (prior to this, girls may wear only pants). She also receives her own private bedroom — called the ‘flowering room‘ — where she may begin inviting ‘walking’ partners once she reaches puberty.


When I reached puberty I couldn’t even get phone calls from boys, much less invite them over for sex.

And does the ‘flowering room‘ become the ‘de-flowering room‘ after puberty?

Children born into walking marriages are raised by their mother’s family, and take the mother’s last name. The father’s family brings gifts to celebrate the child’s birth, but the father has no say in nor required responsibility for the child’s life.


Make way for the stampede of deadbeat dads, beating a trail to Shangri La!

In fact, a father’s primary responsibility is to his sister’s children. If he wants to be included in the raising of his own child, he must bring gifts to the mother’s family to accompany his request. He is free, however, to participate in the coming-of-age ceremony, and generally does so.

Here’s an interesting piece on The Women’s Kingdom by reporter Xiaoli Zhou.

Well, I’m off. Got a ton of packing to do.

What does a woman pack for a move to Shangri La?

Scepter? Check. Crown? Check. Winged ballerina flats? Check.

Societally-imposed chastity belt?



Foreign Eyes Friday


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