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Old 05-18-2012, 06:07 AM
alexi alexi is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Smile Polyamory Vs "Walking Marriages"

Sometime ago I happened to read about the Mosuo tribe of China and their 'walking' marriage which struck me as something superior to polyamory in many ways.

An interesting video on the Mosuo tribe of China who practice "Walking Marriages". Quite informative.


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Old 05-18-2012, 11:07 AM
alexi alexi is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Aukland
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Smile The land where there are no husbands and marriage is unknown

A good informative video:


Walking Marriages

Probably the most famous – and most misunderstood – aspect of Mosuo culture is their practice of “walking marriages” (or “zou hun” in Chinese), so called because the men will walk to the house of their ‘partner' at night, but return to their own home in the morning.
The Mosuo generally live in large extended families, with many generations (great grandparents, grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, etc.) all living together within the same house. For the most part, everyone lives within communal quarters, without private bedrooms or living areas. However, women between certain ages (see the section on “coming of age”) can have their own private bedrooms.
Traditionally, a Mosuo woman who is interested in a particular man will invite him to come and spend the night with her in her room. Such pairings are generally conducted secretly, so the man will walk to her house after dark (thus the description of “walking marriage”), spend the night with her, and return home early the next morning.
While it is possible for a Mosuo woman to change partners as often as she likes – and in fact, having only one sexual partner would be neither expected nor common – the majority of such couplings will actually be more long term. And few Mosuo women will have more than one partner at a time. More than one anthropologist has described this system as “serial monogamy”; and, in fact, many such pairings may last for a lifetime. ( In recent years, a lot of information about the Mosuo has portrayed their culture as a sexually promiscuous culture in which women change partners frequently; this is addressed in greater detail in our “Myths & Misinformation” section.)
Even when a pairing may be long term, however, the man will never go to live with the woman's family, or vice versa. He will continue to live with and be responsible to his family; she will continue to live with and be responsible to her family. There will be no sharing of property.
Most significantly, when children are born, the father may have little or no responsibility for his offspring (in fact, some children may not even know who their father is). If a father does want to be involved with the upbringing of his children, he will bring gifts to the mother's family, and state his intention to do so. This gives him a kind of official status within that family, but does not actually make him part of the family. Regardless of whether the father is involved or not, the child will be raised in the mother's family, and take on her family name.
This does not mean, however, that the men get of scot-free, with no responsibilities for children. Quite the opposite, in fact. Every man will share responsibilities in caring for all children born to women within their own family, be they a sister, niece, aunt, etc. In fact, children will grow up with many “aunts” and “uncles”, as all members of the extended family share in the duties of supporting and raising the children.
The result – as different as it may be from other systems – is a family structure which is, in fact, extremely stable. Think about it. Divorce is a non-issue…there are no questions over child custody (the child belongs to the mother's family), splitting of property (property is never shared), etc. If a parent dies, there is still a large extended family to provide care.
One particularly important result is the lack of preference for a particular gender. For example, in most cultures, the female will join the male's family when she gets married. The result is that if a couple has a lot of female children, they will lose them after marriage, and have no one to care for them in old age; but if they have male children, their sons (and their sons' wives) will care for them. So, in poorer populations in particular, there will be a strong preference for male children.
However, among the Mosuo, since neither male nor female children will ever leave home, there is no particular preference for one gender over the other. The focus instead tends to be on maintaining some degree of gender balance, having roughly the same proportion of male to female within a household. In situations where this becomes unbalanced, it is not uncommon for Mosuo to adopt children of the appropriate gender (or even for two households to ‘swap' male/female children). http://www.mosuoproject.org/walking.htm

Last edited by alexi; 05-18-2012 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:14 PM
freyamarie freyamarie is offline
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Location: Southwest Missouri
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Thanks for sharing this. It is very interesting.
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Old 05-18-2012, 04:24 PM
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CielDuMatin CielDuMatin is offline
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Yes, this is very interesting - a so-called "primitive" culture doing things in an utterly different way and making it work for them.

For some I can see how they would consider this superior to their own experiences of poly. I do not.

I want my family to be a "chosen" family, rather than one based on genetics - I want to decide who I want in my private space. Most of my family members I would not have wanted there for all sorts of reasons. If I had been forced to stay at home with all my various aunts, cousins, etc, there would have been several homicides out of desperation..

I like that a society can exist thinking so utterly differently, though.

"Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf." - Native American Proverb
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Old 05-19-2012, 01:06 AM
alexi alexi is offline
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Location: Aukland
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In 'walking" marriages, I feel the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. It does provide for privacy.

Even in everyday environment we interact with people of different hues at work or at social gatherings, which we take in our stride out of sheer compulsion or necessity.

In communities like Mosuo they have evolved a culture that gives due space to every kind of relationship.

And if you look at the system holistically there is a lot to favour it than against it.

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Old 05-19-2012, 01:46 AM
Tonberry Tonberry is offline
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Location: Oregon, USA
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I like the concept, but I can't imagine living that way. It's very important for me to live with the people I love. And, bluntly, none of the people I love are related to me. In that culture, I would have to keep living with my mother and brothers, would not have been raised by my father, who is really the only redeemable one, and I would not get to live with my boyfriend.
If I had the choice to switch lives for that one, I would run away, as it would feel way too much like being trapped.

Even if the option was to live alone, without my biological family, I would pass. After all, I already have this option, but choose instead to live with men. I care for the companionship way more than I care about the sex.
Even with one resident partner, I guess I can imagine having a man visit me regularly, but I can't imagine not wanting more. Most of the enjoyable parts of a romantic relationship, to me, are the ones that come from everyday life. Cooking together, driving to work together, walking the dogs together. Just being in the same room, one reading, the other on a computer, and interrupting our activities to exchange a comment on what we're doing. Eating meals together.

I would hate to be unable to do it with my partners, and I would hate to have to do it with my biological relatives.

I find it interesting, and I love that it's one example of a matriarchal society, but it's definitely not something I would be interested in.
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