It was her idea at first, but somehow I got involved and it all got out of hand!
It all started ten years ago…
My girlfriend Katerina was doing an internship with Womankind Worldwide in London, and saw a man giving a talk on female empowerment. She was so impressed by the way he made the men listen that she thought all feminist issues should be marketed by men.
Later, putting this to me, I realised that male rights could also benefit from being marketed by women.
“That’s a great idea,” I said.
Katerina then replied, sarcastically: “As if men really need extra rights!”
This prompted me to recall a trek I made in China, where I stumbled upon a culture where women could have as many sexual partners as they want, and never get married. It was a culture where fathers in the conventional sense of the word do not exist, and where men never escape from their mothers’ homes – a typical matriarchy.
Katerina typed the word ‘Matriarchy’ into Google, and the search suggestion came up – did you mean Patriarchy?
This enraged her so much that she exclaimed adamantly that she wants to find all the cultures on the planet where women rule!
And so the project was born…
Searching for potential matriarchal cultures on the internet soon became Katerina’s mission in life, and all her free time was dedicated to research. She collected vast amounts of information and quickly identified a dozen prospective cultures for us to visit, located all around the world.
To begin with, however, I was less enthusiastic about the project, because I felt I was doing something against my nature – I was becoming a feminist. To combat this feeling of insecurity, I decided my role would be to stick up for the men instead, and give the male perspective on these cultures. I told myself I would be heading off on a high-octane adventure – a quest into a series of forbidden matriarchal kingdoms, where women dressed in skimpy rags and wielded jagged-edged swords!
But, when Katerina found a description of one of these cultures, it wasn’t the fantasy adventure I was imagining, but something much more extreme and scary:
Firstly, if you are born a man, that is bad luck, no-one will be very happy. You will adopt your mother’s surname, not your father’s, and your annoying sister will get priority treatment. When you marry you will move to your wife’s home, and she will be in charge. You might feel as if you are just a breeding bull, only good for procreation.
If for any reason your wife gets fed up with you, she can kick you out of the house with nothing, and you will lose all rights over your children. You might try to return to your mother’s home, but there you will receive little support as all the inheritance will go to your annoying sister.
You may have nothing to live for, and end up drowning your sorrows with other like-minded down-trodden men at the local bar – slowly drinking yourself to an early grave.
Although this story sounds a little over-the-top, this is exactly how one of the male rights activists in the Khasi culture, Northeast India, describes the prejudice against them in society.
Curiously this story got me a lot more interested in the project, and so for next five years, between work, I travelled with Katerina to as many supposed women run cultures as possible. The four most extreme we have selected for this book.
In the following blog posts, I will be introducing you to some very unusual cultures that will turn your understanding of society on its head.
Isthmus Zapotec: The feisty charm and entrepreneurship of the indigenous women have allowed them to rise above the men and become national icons of Mexico.
Minangkabau: Although this culture exists within an Islamic society, local traditions have prevailed, giving the women unexpected privileges within the community.
Mosuo: This culture is fast becoming a major tourist destination, officially promoted as a ‘Kingdom of Women’, but unofficially tagged a sex theme park.
Khasi: Here the local women enjoy such power over the men that male-rights groups have started campaigning for equal rights – the exact opposite of what happened in the West one hundred years ago.
Thank you for your interest in our project.
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