True dance of Mosuo perverted by West
■ The Fall of Womenland ★★★ ½ — This is a moving story of cultural assimilation, and the decline of the Mosuo people, a matriarchal women-led society in south-west China. All Mosuo stay with their mothers from birth throughout their lives; taking on their mother’s surnames, remaining in their maternal home even after finding
As a symbol of Mosuos’ independence, the film focuses on one particular tradition, the “walking marriage.” Mosuo celebrate a walking marriage with an individual they love. The man visits the woman’s home overnight, but continues to live in his maternal home. Both partners have sexual relations with others while in their walking marriage. The rest of China sees this sexual freedom for men and women as a form of sex without connection, love or responsibility, believing sex to be the foundation of the Mosuo culture. We learn from the film that it is none of these things.
The film portrays how, even with strong and varied traditions, Mosuos’ understanding and practice of their culture is being eroded by Han-dominated (and ultimately Western) culture, and a tourist industry bent on perceiving and perverting the matriarchal social structure into a culture focused only on sexual promiscuity. It demonstrates how youth within a minority culture may themselves lose a fundamental understanding of their own roots, and take on, not just the traditions of the majority, but the majority’s perspective of their own traditions.
It is a compelling tale of intolerance and misunderstanding, and the harm done by majority cultures on the minorities living among us.
• 9:45pm Tues., Feb. 8 at Cap 6