The Land Where Women Rule: China’s Last Matriarchy

Milène Larsson | China | 2016 | 24 mins

China’s Last Matriarchy Synopsis

A week in Lugu Lake, China, with three generations of Mosuo women reveals what life is like in one of the world’s last matriarchies.

The Land Where Women Rule: China’s Last Matriarchy was an official selection of the 2016 WVN Online Film Festival.

Directed by Milène Larsson in conjunction with Broadly.

About the Filmmaker

Journalist and news documentary filmmaker, Milène Larsson, has been working for VICE for almost a decade. Initially editor of the Scandinavian edition of VICE Magazine, she moved to London to become European Managing Editor. Now a senior producer at VICE News, she primarily makes news documentaries such as the award winning Israel’s Radical Left, Istanbul Rising, Young and Gay in Putin’s Russia, and the major migration series, Europe or Die. She has appeared on CNN, Sky News, and helped produce VICE on HBO.

More from the Filmmaker

China’s one-child policy led to millions of female infanticides—except in a lush valley known as the “Land Where Women Rule.” Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, Lugu Lake is home to China’s Mosuo matriarchy. The region’s 40,000 denizens have come up with a unique family structure that puts women in charge.

The Mosuo’s “walking marriages”—in which women can have as many boyfriends as they want throughout their lifetime—replace traditional monogamy, and inheritance passes from mother to daughter. But are the women really in control, and how are men fairing under their rule? Broadly correspondent Milène Larsson spends a week in Lugu Lake with three generations of Mosuo women to find out what life is like in one of the world’s last matriarchies.

What evoked our interest in China’s Mosuo matriarchy, aside from the obvious rarity of a place where women are in charge, inherit, and are allowed as many lovers as they please, was how their centuries of isolation in the foothills of the Himalayas has allowed them to come up with their very own and unique family structure and relationship model. We wanted to understand how traditional life outside of the monogamous norm works and how it affects women’s, men’s, elderly people’s, and children’s social status.

About the Collaborator

Broadly (VICE) is a website and digital video channel devoted to representing the multiplicity of women’s experiences. Through original reporting and documentary film, Broadly, provides a sustained focus on the issues that matter most to women. As one YouTube commenter succinctly put it, “So basicly [sic] vice but excluding anything of relevance that includes men.”

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