October 2, 2019 12:41 PM   Subscribe

"The conversation inevitably turned to the uniqueness of the island. While sitting across from Ms. Koster, Ms. Matas pondered the concept of feminism, often met with bewilderment here. The reasoning: Of course, women are capable. Of course, women are competent. But no, men and women aren’t equal — women have proven they can do everything men can, but men can’t do everything women can."

"Men began to fade from everyday life on Kihnu in the 19th century, thanks to their jobs at sea. Fishing and hunting seals took them away from home for months at a time. In response, Kihnu women stepped in and ran the island. Otherwise traditional female roles expanded to include anything their society needed to thrive and function."
posted by Grandysaur (21 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
This is a lot like the situation for people in Scandinavia. Men went off fishing, trading, raiding, and women ran things at home. This is not at all a bad arrangement for women and children.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:59 PM on October 2, 2019 [9 favorites]

not unlike cat colonies...generally a good arrangement for she-cats and kittens.

posted by supermedusa at 1:28 PM on October 2, 2019 [5 favorites]

I sincerely hope the first picture is a preview of what my life will be like when I'm old.
posted by GoldenEel at 1:31 PM on October 2, 2019 [8 favorites]

At home, Ms. Matas heated up her sauna cabin and raked the yard, while Timofei, the lamb, bounced around, trying to engage Pepe, her family’s increasingly annoyed dog. Ms. Matas was talking to the animals, encouraging Timofei to eat grass so she could finally stop bottle-feeding him.

“When he was born, his mother wanted nothing to do with him. He was going to die because she wouldn’t even feed him,” she recalled, looking distressed. “This was so upsetting to me. Imagine, no mothering instinct. So I had her killed.”

I'm in two minds as to whether Ms. Matas is messing with the reporter or not, but it's a great couple of paragraphs.
posted by zamboni at 1:57 PM on October 2, 2019 [44 favorites]

I want to be there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:02 PM on October 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, from a practical point of view, a ewe with no maternal abilities is a cost sink for a farmer. Either their lambs die or you have to spend months caring for them by hand. And it's not a trait you want to breed into your flock. Though I believe it's not unusual for a ewe that has otherwise been a good mother to reject one particular lamb, but it's possible Ms. Matas hadn't been previously impressed with her maternal care.
posted by tavella at 2:26 PM on October 2, 2019 [16 favorites]

Orthodox, knitting and and an island without cars and run by women? Is this my birthday?

The photographs of the place are stunning. I'd love to read some more accounts of life on the island.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:22 PM on October 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

Bear Island is real! ❤️
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:37 PM on October 2, 2019

MetaFilter: Imagine, no mothering instinct. So I had her killed.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:47 PM on October 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

Lol I just posted this to metatalk.
posted by k8t at 3:49 PM on October 2, 2019

I hope they find a way to keep their culture alive, just because it seems to be working and the alternative is the rest of the world which isn't working. Unless Estonia is doing considerably better than everyone else, which I don't have enough information about. I hope they also are able to protect themselves from too much tourism and keep doing things their own way. I think society started to go off the rails in ancient times as soon as it was acceptable that some folks didn't get to make their own decisions and live their own lives the way they wanted to. I hope they get to hold onto that.
posted by bleep at 4:29 PM on October 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd bet this is probably how a lot of pre-agriculture communities worked. And were the better for it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:32 PM on October 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

Retirement plan exists!
posted by corb at 5:28 PM on October 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

I would move there with a small child if I had freelance work. And a small child.
posted by bilabial at 5:33 PM on October 2, 2019 [10 favorites]

posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:10 PM on October 2, 2019 [15 favorites]

I'd bet this is probably how a lot of pre-agriculture communities worked.

The Minangkabau people of Sumatera, Indonesia (and also now in Southwestern Peninsular Malaysia) is also one of the subethnic groups that had something similar develop, and eventually it's codified into Adat Perpatih (where inheritance including land etc runs through the women, the expectation being men will be away making their own fortune), making them an example of a matrilineal Southeast Asian Muslim culture.
posted by cendawanita at 8:12 PM on October 2, 2019 [12 favorites]

I read the article and was fascinated by the mention of their specific style of weaving. Googled it, and 20 minutes later, I've ordered a bunch of stuff from Estonia, including a book I won't be able to read, just drool over the photos.

Thanks, MF!
posted by corvikate at 5:18 AM on October 3, 2019 [8 favorites]

this almost makes we want to cry. As so many women before me have put it, part of being female is the forced transition of being inside yourself to being an observer of yourself. All the women here look so happy.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:03 AM on October 3, 2019 [19 favorites]

Virve Koster, 91, above, better known as “Kihnu Virve,” is one of Estonia’s top-selling female folk singers. Here, she takes a spin on a vintage Soviet motorcycle with her dog, Ketu, in the side car.

I really don't need anything else today. I'm just going to stare at this picture.
posted by Automocar at 11:16 AM on October 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oddly, this reminds me of nothing so much as Duane Bryers's Hilda, a woman unselfconsciously inhabiting her own body, doing everything that needs to be done on her own, and looking as joyful as Virve with her dog in the side car. I can't believe this place is real.

Also, FirstMateKate, I've never heard that comment before and it is so profoundly true. I feel like I have a new perspective on my life on a par with what happened in the emotional labor thread.
posted by HotToddy at 6:43 AM on October 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

HotToddy, I'm glad that reached you.
"Women are taught to evaluate themselves in parts, and treat each part separately" - Susan Sontag
"You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.” -Atwood, The Robber Bride
“I am sick of haunting myself from within like an old house.”— Erica Jong, from “Bitter Herb"
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:45 PM on October 4, 2019 [7 favorites]

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