Where Indian women gained the upper hand!

In most places around the world men start off in control and it’s the women who have to fight back, but in the Khasi Hills of Northeast India these roles have been totally reversed. So much so that the men have formed male rights groups and are desperately campaigning for equality!

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If there’s a model society to oppose the patriarchal values of this world, then it surely has to be the Khasi culture, where women run the family, own property, take of charge of money and business, and can throw their husbands out whenever they want!

We are coming to end of our journey to find a real-life matriarchy, and this culture is suddenly looking very promising… !!! Continue reading “Where Indian women gained the upper hand!”

The unlikely marriage of Islam and matriarchy!

The story of how the Minangkabau culture merged with Islam to create a female friendly society – strangely has the Dutch colonialists to thank for!

On our journey through West Sumatra the big question was always: How did the Muslim religion and the matrilineal culture of Minangkabau, where women inherit property and keep the family name, become friends?

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We were told by numerous people that the culture is simply based on Islam, but found this difficult to comprehend, because the Minangkabau culture was around long before Islam arrived. We had to do some deeper research.

What follows is an intriguing tale of betrayal and compromise that shows even the most hardened religions can be worked with to create a better society for both men and women… Continue reading “The unlikely marriage of Islam and matriarchy!”

Where Muslim men obey their wives!

It’s difficult to imagine the husband being the underdog in a Muslim society, but that is exactly how it is in the Minangkabau culture of West Sumatra.

On our journey into the lush green hills of the Minang Heartlands I see men ploughing the land with water buffalo and women busily harvesting or planting rice in paddy fields. My girlfriend Katerina is convinced that this is exactly the kind of place where women rule!

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I laugh off the idea and remind myself that this is a Muslim society, so how can that be possible!

If we look back into the history of the Minangkabau culture, however, we see they have developed some quite extraordinary customs that defy the normal rules of Islam. Continue reading “Where Muslim men obey their wives!”

Does a Muslim matriarchy really exist?

Continuing our quest for matriarchy we head to West Sumatra in Indonesia, where the Muslim society of Minangkabau dispels all prejudice you normally associate with Islam.

To begin with, though, I feel a little overwhelmed, because 86% of Indonesia’s 250 million population follow the Islamic faith, making it the most populous Muslim country in the world!

I see girls dressed in tight tops and calf length shorts, some wearing the jilbab (Indonesian for headscarf), some not. But when I spot a couple of women majestically floating along in full veil, I suddenly stop and stare, not sure whether to pity them or respect them.

My girlfriend is quick to suggest that I too have been manipulated by western propaganda against the Islamic way of life. I immediately disagree, but then think for a moment and decide that perhaps she is right.

Everything we hear in the news these days about the Islamic world is usually not good. I kick myself for not being more open-minded and judging a culture I do not fully understand. The Islamic faith must be tolerant and flexible to allow the matrilineal culture of the Minangkabau to exist at all.

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Here’s a bit of research and some anthropological notes to help work out if the Minangkabau really are matriarchal…
Continue reading “Does a Muslim matriarchy really exist?”

Five silly things I’ve learnt making my first eBook?

I have to admit creating an eBook from our matriarchal travels has been a lot more work than I first thought. Here are a few things I’ve learnt:

The First Thing:

I don’t know whether it’s like this for everyone, but when you start writing you suddenly start to embellish everything with little exaggerations or ideas to make yourself look cooler. I found these small changes soon escalated, however, and while they sounded good at the time, later they seemed quite pretentious.

When my girlfriend read my notes, she immediately said: “Seriously! Did you really drink that much beer at the street fiesta? I remember you danced with that cross-dresser, why don’t you put that in, it’s a lot more funny!”

With time I realised I had to focus on the truth, and have since become quite pedantic about separating what really happened from what I think would sound good happening. Anyway, correcting this was quite straight forward – you simply have to be honest. What was more difficult was remembering accurately what your feelings were at that moment. But, luckily I usually had some diary scribbles to consult with, so stuck with them.

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The Second Thing: Continue reading “Five silly things I’ve learnt making my first eBook?”

Land of Booze!

On the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico it’s socially acceptable for men to drink every day during the lunch break or after work, or both!

As a naive European, I was expecting to find a drunken dysfunctional society, where the women are forever frustrated with the men, but instead I find that the women are actually encouraging the situation.

Frequenting several cantinas (bars) in Juchitán I saw that women only usually go to the cantinas to collect their men. This doesn’t mean that they do not drink, though, at all the fiestas I went to I found the women drank a lot, but it was usually more controlled. They didn’t end up on the floor as the men often did.

Due to this seemingly unregulated society of drinkers, Juchitán has become known as Chupitlán! (Land of Booze!).

Drinkers3 Continue reading “Land of Booze!”

A legitimate gay communion!

Apart from dominant women and alcoholism, Juchitan on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is also fast becoming known as the queer capitol of Mexico!

For three glitzy days of the year, the ‘Vela de las Auténticas Intrépidas Buscadoras del Peligro’ (Fiesta of the True Fearless Danger Seekers), or big gay pride fiesta, attracts not only gays, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals from around the world, but also the international media, making it a must see event if you are in the area, regardless of your gender swing.

Muxe-mass Continue reading “A legitimate gay communion!”