Monday, October 27, 2014

Mosuo maybe not a feminist paradise

I previously posted:
Stacey's idea of paradise is the Mosuo women of China. Anthropologists have studied thousands of primitive tribes all over the world, and this obscure tiny tribe is the only one that is not a patriarchy. Apparently women there are free to be as promiscuous as please at night. This supposedly shows that women can separate they family life from their sexual freedoms.
Supposedly the men are completely expendable and the kids do not even know who their fathers are. But a new study claims:
The matrilineal Mosuo of Southwest China have been described as the only human society that lacks fathers and husbands. These claims are based on ethnographic descriptions of normative practices and have typically not employed rigorous tests of quantitative behavioral or demographic data to verify actual practices. Here we challenge these claims, providing quantitative evidence of paternal investment among contemporary Mosuo fathers. We show that co-residence with one's biological father is associated with increased education and lower age at first reproduction, suggesting that incentives to provide paternal care exist among the Mosuo. We examine men's self-reports of fathering activity and women's reports of their partners’ fathering activities, including measures of both direct care and monetary investment in their children. Every participant (N = 140) reported paternal involvement in childcare, but factor analysis of fathers’ responses revealed that men specialized in either monetary or direct care. We speculate as to what may lie behind differences in caring patterns and conclude by emphasizing that while paternal investment is facultative, it is unlikely to be completely absent even in societies like the Mosuo.
I don't know what to make of this. I was hoping that there would be a true matriarchy somewhere just so that anthropologists can study what happens in such a society. Apparently that was wishful thinking.

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