When people ask me what brought me to Cambodia, I usually answer, it was Love, but in fact it was my curiosity to explore and learn from life.
The Mosuo minority consists of a population of 50.000 people, they have lived for uncountable generations near the Lugu Lake, (The Mother Lake) high in the Tibetan Himalayas. The leading role in their minority is not taken by man, like almost all over the world, but by the women and especially by the mothers of the community the matriarchs. These leadership roles are not only seen within the family structure and decision making, the woman of the Mosuo community in fact also take on many of the more labour intensive responsibilities.
What brought me to these woman was my curiosity to explore a different way of life. Mosuo woman say they don’t need husbands to belong to, they choose partners simply for the sake of experiencing closeness, intimacy and love, not to make life plans or share their burdens. Their independent and confident lifestyle eliminates usual expectations towards man and allows both to be free to live and love as it makes them happy. The word father does not exist in their language, the conceived children grow up in strong households and communities of woman, therefore children never suffer the loss of their mothers partner since these have no role to fulfil in the first place.
As a child I experienced my fathers lack of love towards my mother and later their divorce, I suffered to see my mother struggling from disappointed expectations and social judgment, which left her feel like a failure for many years in her life. Her experience did not just damage hers but also my confidence and trust in love, but it also made me wonder about the aspect of suffering within our conditioned views on Love, relationships and marriage.
One of the main ideas within the concept of marriage is based on monogenism. Living in a life long partnership has become the norm almost all over the world, an idea which is hugely romanticised because it creates a sense of belonging and security. Patriarchal societies however have also conditioned us to believe that a man’s love is not as loyal as a woman’s love, which is why unfaithful man are often tolerated while woman are expected to be loyal and forgiving partners despite suffering their partners disloyalty.
Marriage has certainly its advantages, but when one of the partners fails to maintain their promises of honouring the bond, suffering can’t be avoided, which often leaves behind a crippled illusion, broken identities or life plans.
The Mosuo woman teach us that marriage, even though globally practised, is nothing but a socially accepted idea and in reality only one of many possibilities to live our lives.