Friday, November 18, 2011


A Mosuo woman near Lugu Lake.Image via WikipediaRecently I read this article. I think it could inspire conversations.

The Atlantic: All The Single Ladies

Some observations I made:

(1) Having a job and paying her own bills is still such a big deal for this woman. This is 2011. You'd think having a job by now would be something to take for granted for women.

(2) There is no one right lifestyle. True. But a lot of people end up with default lifestyles rather than the one they would actively pick for themselves. If you are to stay single, make sure it is an active, conscious choice.

My favorite part of the article was this one:
In her new book, Unhitched, Judith Stacey, a sociologist at NYU, surveys a variety of unconventional arrangements, from gay parenthood to polygamy to—in a mesmerizing case study—the Mosuo people of southwest China, who eschew marriage and visit their lovers only under cover of night. “The sooner and better our society comes to terms with the inescapable variety of intimacy and kinship in the modern world, the fewer unhappy families it will generate,” she writes.

The matrilineal Mosuo are worth pausing on, as a reminder of how complex family systems can be, and how rigid ours are—and also as an example of women’s innate libidinousness, which is routinely squelched by patriarchal systems, as Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jethá point out in their own analysis of the Mosuo in their 2010 book, Sex at Dawn. For centuries, the Mosuo have lived in households that revolve around the women: the mothers preside over their children and grandchildren, and brothers take paternal responsibility for their sisters’ offspring.

Sexual relations are kept separate from family. At night, a Mosuo woman invites her lover to visit her babahuago (flower room); the assignation is called sese (walking). If she’d prefer he not sleep over, he’ll retire to an outer building (never home to his sisters). She can take another lover that night, or a different one the next, or sleep every single night with the same man for the rest of her life—there are no expectations or rules. As Cai Hua, a Chinese anthropologist, explains, these relationships, which are known as açia, are founded on each individual’s autonomy, and last only as long as each person is in the other’s company. Every goodbye is taken to be the end of the açia relationship, even if it resumes the following night. “There is no concept of açia that applies to the future,” Hua says.
This is exotic, don't you think?

Some New Yorkers make attempts at the açia lifestyle without leaving their puritanical mindsets.

I grew up in a country where in this particular culture - that was exotic to us as well, don't be getting ideas - a woman would marry all the brothers in the family. When she had kids, the guys would crunch the numbers to decide whose kid. Who was with her in summer?

My number one observation from the article though was, I bet this writer is a white woman and all her men have been white guys. That is not to say only white folks stick to each other. People do that in group thing all over the world, maybe even more so in other parts of the world. But that is the elephant in the room. For more than 90% of the people - maybe even 95% - that collective identity thing trumps individual choice, attraction, what have you. How random is even singlism?

Also this part comes across as a little wistful.
Personally, I’ve been wondering if we might be witnessing the rise of the aunt, based on the simple fact that my brother’s two small daughters have brought me emotional rewards I never could have anticipated. I have always been very close with my family, but welcoming my nieces into the world has reminded me anew of what a gift it is to care deeply, even helplessly, about another. There are many ways to know love in this world.
Having and raising kids is a whole different topic, a big one too. I know of and have read about many people who "changed" after their first child was born. But then that is no argument against singlism either.

Challenges to gender based and other prejudices sometimes ask that the institution of love, family and marriage be challenged. That's for good.

And a knowledge economy might be much better for things like pregnancy than the industrial one was. But then that's another big topic.

The biggest unsaid topic is The One. Maybe there is no The One. Maybe there is. The idea of this one special person that you find and stay with. There can be pitfalls along the way. And The One might not be The One.

I like it when people talk about relationships. I really do. Don't assume, ask.
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1 comment:

djblackersz said...

terima kasih atas info yang anda berikan...
nice to meet you..