China’s "matriarchal" tourist town sounds anything but

// 27 April 2007

china traffic copIn an attempt to attract tourists to the little-visited city of Chongqing, the city is building a tourist town where “men had better watch their step”, reports The Independent.

I’m a bit suspicious of this story. The way The Independent portrays it, the tourist attraction is hardly very appealling:

At the gate leading into the town, men will be greeted with a slogan saying: “Women are never wrong; men can never refuse their needs.” Any male foolish enough to debate this point can be punished by kneeling on a hard board or being forced to do the washing up in a local restaurant.

It goes on:

There will be special courts set up, with judges who can order male tourists to be whipped if they fail to fulfil their partner’s wishes for chocolate, or perfume, or anything at all. No cat-of-nine-tails this whip, however – it is specially made and described as being “soft” so it won’t hurt the transgressors too much.

Although The Independent says the tourist town raises serious points about how women are treated in China, I would say the opposite. It’s a parody of gender equality: a patriarchal exercise. By setting up an extreme, dictatorial matriarchy “for fun”, the town surely undermines any real ambition to get women in positions of power in government, business, relationships and civil society.

It’s also interesting that the story draws a completely unjustified comparison to the Mosuo people of the Yunnan province, “who practise “walk-in marriages”, where male partners are chosen for procreation, and do not live with their wives. (The men merely spend the night and have to leave in the morning)”.

The Mosuo, by the way, were the subject of a really interesting feature in the April/May issue of Bust magazine, which is well worth reading.

Photo by TommyOshima, shared under a Creative Commons license

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