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April 24, 2013 7:19 AM   Subscribe

Chako Paul City is a women-only city in the north of Sweden, established in 1820 by a wealthy widow. It is "a place that is respectful of women's love, but with a rule that men cannot enter"; the few who have tried have found themselves beaten half to death by the formidable Amazonian sentries at its gates. It has a castle, and its main industry is forestry, with a sideline in lesbian tourism. Of the 25,000 women, from all over Europe, living in Chako Paul City, those wishing to seek male company are allowed to leave, but may only reenter after having bathed and undertaken several other measures to avoid negatively affecting the mental state of the other residents.

Chako Paul City (also known as Shakebao City) doesn't actually exist; it originated in a fictitious story in a Chinese provincial newspaper. The story spread in 2009, and soon Swedish tourism agencies were beset by inquiries from China. Since then, the story of the fabled Swedish lesbian utopia in the forests has reportedly spread to Japan and South Korea.
posted by acb (76 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
the story of the fabled Swedish lesbian utopia in the forests

Stay tuned for my new Skyrim expansion.
posted by Think_Long at 7:22 AM on April 24, 2013 [53 favorites]


Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?
posted by three blind mice at 7:24 AM on April 24, 2013 [35 favorites]


I'm glad this is fake, because intolerance is doubleplusunsexy.
posted by chavenet at 7:25 AM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


My immediate reaction was GREAT! More power to these (imaginary) women!
Wouldn't the whole world be better off if humans just did this everywhere? Every five years or so, there could be a diverity bond fire for snook-snook.
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 7:28 AM on April 24, 2013


the few who have tried have found themselves beaten half to death by the formidable Amazonian sentries at its gates.

Not that it would deter some guys who were just looking for a tough dominatrix...
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:28 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


"When we first heard the reports that Xinhua had featured a story on a lesbian man-hating town full of sapphic amazons in Sweden, we thought it was crazy. First off, everyone knows the only lesbian man-hating town around is in Massachusetts."

Ba-dump, cymbal crash.
posted by three blind mice at 7:30 AM on April 24, 2013


There is a really, really, really shitty movie with a similar premise. Revolutionaries kidnap all of the men from a Latin American village, so the women refound the town as a Sapphic paradise. It's not loony bad in a fun way, just lazy, crappy, boring bad. It manages to be glibly insulting to pretty much all genders and orientations while drifting back and forth between a clumsy, low rent take on magical realism and overly shiny sitcom-style farce.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:32 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a really, really, really shitty movie with a similar premise.

So, so totally not the movie I assumed it would be before clicking the link.
posted by LionIndex at 7:38 AM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Does Chako Paul City sound Swedish to the Chinese? Because that's the silliest name for a Swedish city ever.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:39 AM on April 24, 2013 [7 favorites]



There is a really, really, really shitty movie with a similar premise


It also sounds like this shitty movie
posted by TedW at 7:39 AM on April 24, 2013


For future reference, here are some better candidates:
Kvinnsta
Qvinnoholm
Fruntimra
Gummeby
Kärringköping
Amasonborg
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:43 AM on April 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is a really, really, really shitty movie with a similar premise.

Leave Venus in Space alone!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:43 AM on April 24, 2013


When asked what else might be drawing tourists to northern Sweden besides the chance to visit an isolated town filled with sexually frustrated females, Wilhelmsson had a theory of his own.

“It’s hard to say for sure, but I think part of it might be increased interest following our designation as Europe’s Cultural Capital for 2014,” he said.


Well, duh...
posted by TedW at 7:44 AM on April 24, 2013


If it didn't work out in Hundra, it's not going to work out in real life.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:44 AM on April 24, 2013


Don't forget The Priest and the Beast episode from the second series of The Mighty Boosh, where the Betamax Bandit has killed all the men in a small vaguely Mexican town because one of the characters slept with his wife.

If we're collecting references to this sort of thing, that is...
posted by dubitable at 7:45 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I was expecting the story to be all "Giant lesbian separatist commune! Kinda like the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, but with more caribou!" Turns out it's more like "Giant nudge-nudge-wink-wink lesbian prison camp! Hot sexualy-deprived Swedish chicks desperately craving cock!"

Apparently my knee-jerk reactions to the words "Sweden" and "lesbian" are miscalibrated.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 7:48 AM on April 24, 2013


Leave Venus in Space alone!

And Vegas in Space too!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:51 AM on April 24, 2013


Hmmm... so here's the mockumentary movie
posted by Bwithh at 7:53 AM on April 24, 2013


Does Chako Paul City sound Swedish to the Chinese? Because that's the silliest name for a Swedish city ever.

That's one of the fascinating aspects of it: the occidentalist, mysterious-West angle, of the forests of northern Sweden as an exotic setting for all sorts of fantastic stories.

For future reference, here are some better candidates:
posted by Foci for Analysis at 15:43 on April 24 [+] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by acb at 7:54 AM on April 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm glad sad this is fake, because intolerance patriarchy is doubleplusunsexy.

FTFY.

MILITANT LESBIAN SEPARATISM FTW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by liketitanic at 8:00 AM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Good news everyone! This is already a Futurama episode.
posted by sneebler at 8:04 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


It manages to be glibly insulting to pretty much all genders and orientations while drifting back and forth between a clumsy, low rent take on magical realism and overly shiny sitcom-style farce.

I was going to make a pithy Michael Bay comment but then I thought I'd better check and make sure he wasn't the director.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:05 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would be ok with this and want to visit it if it were real. Lots of thorny issues I'm sure but I don't have to think about those because it's not actually real. A girl can dream, a girl can dream...
posted by bleep at 8:18 AM on April 24, 2013


the story of the fabled Swedish lesbian utopia in the forests

Stay tuned for my new Skyrim expansion.


I think FFXII already did this.
posted by Jpfed at 8:19 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought (hoped) this was real until I got to the part about the sentries...

I have a pact with some of my favorite friends that when we are retired, we will buy a small alpaca farm in Northern California. Separate housing for everybody as we all like our privacy. We are a group of lesbian, bi, straight and asexual (cis and trans) women. Men will be allowed on the farm, but none living there (and there are no special purification rituals - ew).

There is literally nothing I can think of better than living and working on a farm into my old age with a bunch of farm chicks, hauling hay, harvesting honey and herding hens.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:20 AM on April 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also the fact that so many women want this to be real should say something about the state of things.
posted by bleep at 8:22 AM on April 24, 2013 [21 favorites]


First thing I thought of was the Michigan Womyn's Festival. Datalounge used to have hilarious threads detailing the microcosmic wars fought within those grounds.
posted by Ber at 8:22 AM on April 24, 2013


If real, this would totally fall foul of European Equality laws, laws that bring equality such that women, despite causing about a fifth of the road accidents than men do, now have to pay the same for car insurance. vive le patriarchy huh.

Also, first thought was: is this a PR stunt for Colour Climax.

EDIT: +10 for the Bowie reference.
posted by marienbad at 8:25 AM on April 24, 2013


Does Chako Paul City sound Swedish to the Chinese? Because that's the silliest name for a Swedish city ever.

Sister cities Chako John, Chako George and Chako Ringo were also founded, but severed ties over bad blood caused by Chako Ono.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:27 AM on April 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


There was a fascinating piece in the Times a couple years ago about real-life US lesbian communes. None with a castle that I know of. The gist of the article was that this may soon be a bygone way of life, but while searching for I found this new gay and lesbian residential development on Lookout Mountiain, and another different kind of initiative finds older women cohousing to take care of one another as an alternative to assisted living.
posted by Miko at 8:29 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also the fact that so many women want this to be real should say something about the state of things.
posted by bleep at 8:22 AM on April 24 [+] [!]

THIS.
posted by 235w103 at 8:30 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


This place would have made for an excellent issue of Planetary.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:33 AM on April 24, 2013


Also the fact that so many women want this to be real should say something about the state of things.

IIRC, much of the interest in China was from men.

I'm guessing that may be an unfortunate consequence of the one-child policy plus illegal but common sex-selective abortion; a generation for whom women are intrinsically exotic and even the prospect of being half beaten to death by a Swedish amazon is preferable to awful, spirit-crushing permacelibacy.
posted by acb at 8:34 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that there are a lot of women who want ChakPaulVille to be real suggests to me that women are as likely as anyone to believe in easy solutions. Got patriarchy problems? Get rid of the men.

It's the sort of thing that Men's Rights Advocates like to point to as evidence that feminists are just as bad as their oppressors. It's an effective derailing tactic because you usually can find logical fallacies that both an oppressive group and an oppressed one use in their rhetoric. It's a superficial similarity, though. Logical fallacies are about as general-purpose as logic itself. Of course you'll see them everywhere.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:36 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


No mention of the Yik-Yak, yet? A gem.
posted by perhapsolutely at 8:39 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to write a comment about how there were plenty of places that women were not allowed to visit, but I am coming up with only Mt. Athos in Greece. There are places where no woman will ever be in charge (e.g. The Vatican), however women are allowed to visit and work there (I even found an article by a woman who got to tour the Papal apartments, including the bathroom).

I feel like there used to be more male-only locations (Augusta National is the only one that springs to mind as I cannot quite figure out whether women were allowed to pray at the western wall without the use of a Torah previous to the Women of the Wall meetings) that are now integrated. I think this is my personal Bias at work here, but am not completely sure.
posted by Hactar at 8:48 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to write a comment about how there were plenty of places that women were not allowed to visit, but I am coming up with only Mt. Athos in Greece. There are places where no woman will ever be in charge (e.g. The Vatican), however women are allowed to visit and work there (I even found an article by a woman who got to tour the Papal apartments, including the bathroom).

Masonic lodges aren't fully integrated yet, are they?
posted by acb at 8:53 AM on April 24, 2013


Sister cities Chako John, Chako George and Chako Ringo were also founded, but severed ties over bad blood caused by Chako Ono.

Chako Yoko Ono has a better feel to it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:55 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a really, really, really shitty movie with a similar premise. Revolutionaries kidnap all of the men from a Latin American village, so the women refound the town as a Sapphic paradise. It's not loony bad in a fun way, just lazy, crappy, boring bad. It manages to be glibly insulting to pretty much all genders and orientations while drifting back and forth between a clumsy, low rent take on magical realism and overly shiny sitcom-style farce.

This is how I kind of imagine what happens in the aftermath of Predator: after the Predator and Dutch Matrix's strike team kill practically all the men in Guatemala, this seems like a very natural consequence.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:56 AM on April 24, 2013


Hactar - women are allowed, officially to pray at the wall on the women's side, but not out loud. (MUST NOT HEAR A WOMAN'S VOICE!!!!)
posted by Sophie1 at 8:58 AM on April 24, 2013


The fact that there are a lot of women who want ChakPaulVille to be real suggests to me that women are as likely as anyone to believe in easy solutions. Got patriarchy problems? Get rid of the men.

Or the problem is that actionable solutions to patriarchy lie with men, so fantasies of being able to do something meaningful are popular?
posted by liketitanic at 9:01 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also the fact that so many women want this to be real should say something about the state of things. Actually, the fact that there are so few delusional, sexist bigots around is rather encouraging.
posted by epo at 9:01 AM on April 24, 2013


Love the title of this post, but I think you forgot this obligatory link.

Also anybody who has studied the women's movement in the 1970s (in the US anyway) will tell you that removing men does not automatically bring about utopia.
posted by tuesdayschild at 9:04 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


What about the beguines as an example of all female communities?
posted by wingless_angel at 9:11 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boys Clubs tumblr. Not fantasies, though, PHEW!
posted by liketitanic at 9:13 AM on April 24, 2013


Also anybody who has studied the women's movement in the 1970s (in the US anyway) will tell you that removing men does not automatically bring about utopia.

Or anyone who went to a women's college, ZING!
posted by liketitanic at 9:17 AM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Googling about I found Female ecovillages and this blog No Men Allowed.
Female monasticism was quite a big deal in the middle ages.
posted by adamvasco at 9:24 AM on April 24, 2013


men wishing to enter risk being “beaten half to death” by police

many of the town’s female residents turn to homosexuality “because they could not suppress their sexual needs”

And women who decide to leave the town to fulfill their carnal desires are only allowed to re-enter Chako Paul City if

When asked what else might be drawing tourists to northern Sweden besides the chance to visit an isolated town filled with sexually frustrated females

So...the residents proactively keep men out on purpose. They've got homosexuality to satisfy their sexual needs, but they are allowed to have sex with men as long as they keep that business outside of the city walls. Yet the reporter asserts that the town is full of sexually frustrated females?

I want to just laugh at the idiotic logic of this, but seriously, that's pathetic.
posted by desuetude at 9:26 AM on April 24, 2013


Do Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari know about this?!?
posted by Skwirl at 9:29 AM on April 24, 2013


Sister cities Chako John, Chako George and Chako Ringo were also founded, but severed ties over bad blood caused by Chako Ono.

Chaco Small Berries and Chaco Yaya are my favourites. Chaco Bigboutie sucks.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:49 AM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Let's not forget Chaco Khan
posted by TedW at 10:02 AM on April 24, 2013 [11 favorites]


This was also an episode of Brisco County Jr.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:06 AM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did nobody spot that beating people half-to-death is illegal in Sweden? Perhaps less so in China, and perhaps it's widely believed there that it's an optional entertainment in the Nordic countries, but the Swedes are generally civilised in such matters and officially try to dissuade the practice.
posted by Devonian at 10:07 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't the whole world be better off if humans just did this everywhere? Every five years or so, there could be a diverity bond fire for snook-snook.

It's obvious, but that's not the only interaction two people of different gender would need. What about friends, existing couples or people who don't identify within a binary gender?
posted by ersatz at 10:09 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did nobody spot that beating people half-to-death is illegal in Sweden? Perhaps less so in China, and perhaps it's widely believed there that it's an optional entertainment in the Nordic countries, but the Swedes are generally civilised in such matters and officially try to dissuade the practice.

OTOH, perhaps the typical Harbin News listener isn't all that educated about the mysterious West, and to them, it's all much of a muchness. And if, say, Vladimir Putin can hunt bears with his bare hands, why can't Swedish Amazons beat men to within an inch of their lives?
posted by acb at 10:19 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


> I feel like there used to be more male-only locations

I believe sacred mountain hiking trails in Japan are/used-to-be male-only. I think Mt. Fuji is/was like this.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 10:20 AM on April 24, 2013


> Also the fact that so many women want this to be real should say something about the state of things.

IIRC, much of the interest in China was from men.


...which says something kind of related about the state of things if you ask me.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:24 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another thing I noticed: “Shakebao” (the other spelling of “Chako Paul”) sounds a lot like Ibn Schacabao (sp.?), a non-specifically Oriental writer of grimoires in the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft or one of his associates. I.e., on one hand, we have ill-defined orientalism as blank slate for fantasies of eldritch cosmic horror, and on the other, ill-defined occidentalism as blank slate for fantasies of sexual frustration.
posted by acb at 10:39 AM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be fair, it's what you get when a fembot in a chauvinistic manbot's manputer's world strikes out on her own.
posted by mrgoat at 10:39 AM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?
posted by three blind mice at 3:24 PM on April 24 [19 favorites −]


Will there be løveli lakes?
posted by Decani at 11:00 AM on April 24, 2013


Yeah, purification rituals and beatings now, but sooner or later you'll have to demonstrate fealty at the gate by spitting on heads stuck on spikes.

Anyhow, I'm sure there's a place just outside of town where a guy could set up a small shop for those who want to drop by for tea and conversation.
posted by mule98J at 11:09 AM on April 24, 2013


There was a fascinating piece in the Times a couple years ago about real-life US lesbian communes. None with a castle that I know of.

Never mind just lesbian communes, more communities in general should have castles.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:25 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also the fact that so many women want this to be real should say something about the state of things.

That a lot of people hate and fear those who are both important to and unlike them, that lots of people wish they could just opt out of the difficulty of dealing with difference, and that heterosexuality is challenging.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:44 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Never mind just lesbian communes, more communities in general should have castles.

Agreed. Although, I don't know why, cause I am sure the More Castles Road leads to even greater inequalities in wealth.
I know it's been linked to on the blue before, but at least one community is building a castle.
posted by It is better for you not to know. at 1:11 PM on April 24, 2013


I don't think I'd mind if women had a city or two for their own. For most people, it would seem deeply unhealthy, but there are a fair number of women who've been victimized by men, and I wouldn't really blame them if they wanted to live apart.

Realistically, such a thing would likely run into many legal and ethical challenges. Civil rights legislation would make it hard to refuse men housing or jobs, even if the whole city was privately owned. What do women do if they have male children while they live there? And would it be ethical to raise children (male or female) in such an environment?
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:07 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am sure the More Castles Road leads to even greater inequalities in wealth.

Now that's not true, I treat all my serfs equally.
posted by Think_Long at 2:07 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of something that gave me a chuckle the other day: Top ten stupid questions people ask lesbians
2. So what do you actually, you know… do ?

Well. It all begins with something we lezzers like to call the "joining of the lunar essences". We hold hands, look deeply into each other’s eyes and harness one another’s erotic energy. Next comes an elaborate tea-drinking ceremony. Between sips of Lapsang Souchong, we name our favourite pre-1927 feminist poets. If we agree on more than three, we can move onto the binding of the goddess egos.

Seriously, if you need to ask what two women do in bed you have no imagination. Or internet access, apparently.
posted by XMLicious at 2:09 PM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I should have realized this was a fake when I saw the tourism brochure slogan "Chako town - come for the lesbians, stay for the beatings!"
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:24 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb: "Chaco Small Berries and Chaco Yaya are my favourites. Chaco Bigboutie sucks."

Chako Bigbootay. Chako Big-boo-tay!
posted by chavenet at 3:37 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It all begins with something we lezzers like to call the "joining of the lunar essences". We hold hands, look deeply into each other’s eyes and harness one another’s erotic energy. Next comes an elaborate tea-drinking ceremony. Between sips of Lapsang Souchong, we name our favourite pre-1927 feminist poets. If we agree on more than three, we can move onto the binding of the goddess egos.

I can't be the only one who thinks this actually sounds pretty damn awesome, can I? Heh. (It cracked me up to read this bit, especially since my favorite tea happens to be Lapsang Souchong - thanks for that link, and for the good laugh!)

Seriously, though, I love reading about feminist and lesbian communes and co-housing groups, fictional or not. They fascinate me and inspire me. I am bi and very happily planning to marry a man, but I think there can be great value in women-only living/working spaces, and I wish I had more opportunities to spend time in them. When I was younger, I had elaborate, detailed romantic fantasies about living in a feminist version of a harem, where I could be a homemaker in a non-patriarchal context and spend my days belly dancing, writing, reading, and tending the hearth fires alongside the other goddess-worshippers.

I don't kid myself that living in a women-only space would ever bring about utopia, though. I'm not that naive. I'd be thrilled with being able to live simply and close to the earth, being as free as possible of the constant threat of rape and sexual harassment, and having a sustainable way to provide for my basic needs (including health care) without working 50+ hour weeks doing something I don't care about for money. It depresses me that even that sounds like an unattainable utopian fantasy.

My dream is that one day there will be many feminist eco-villages, co-housing groups, co-ops, hermitages, and monastic options for introverted, aging gothy Pagan and artsy types of any gender identity. I hope I'm in a position to drink my Lapsang Souchong and sing along in my gravelly old-lady voice to Ministry when I'm 80. If I am, perhaps I will start one myself.
posted by velvet winter at 3:49 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is literally nothing I can think of better than living and working on a farm into my old age with a bunch of farm chicks, hauling hay, harvesting honey and herding hens.

Will you have chickens, too?
posted by clarknova at 1:48 AM on April 25, 2013


Did nobody spot that beating people half-to-death is illegal in Sweden?

I just presumed that the Swedes have a lot of tolerance between what happens between a consenting adult and a couple of Amazonian sentries.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:22 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The idea that an all-female community would be free of coercion, sexual assault, or violence really makes clear how much the fantasy of an all-female community is really a fantasy of an entirely upper-middle-class community.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:37 AM on April 25, 2013


Hot day, long night, sorry if I'm misparsing - are you implying that other classes lean more, in fantasy or reality, towards violence and coercion?
posted by forgetful snow at 9:16 AM on April 25, 2013


Forgetful snow, I think ThatFuzzyBastard is implying the opposite (that the people who think women are less violent as a class are themselves incorrect, and that in reality women are no more or less violent as a class than any other subset of human beings).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:23 AM on April 25, 2013


Yup. I think upper middle class women tend to be less prone towards violence because those are the standards of the upper middle class in America (coercion is another story, but nu). But anyone who has dealt with women---or anyone---outside of the upper middle class knows that's a Victorian myth. The fantasy of an all-female collective where everyone is groovy is a fantasy of a world without difference, and deserves as much respect as any other fantasy in which conflict is banished by imposing upper middle class standards on anyone who enters.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:53 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


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