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Sharad9
2017-01-29, 07:15 PM
I want to develop a matriarchal setting and am trying to come up with a way to realistically justify it, so I came up with an idea. Human beings naturally developed the ability to use magic. It is a common thing that all people use to different extents, one way in which extends to biology.
Say that women developed the ability to biologically determine the sex of their child, and pregnancy was a more active rather than passive experience. Gestation could be sped up or slowed down to a certain extent, and they could choose when and where to give birth instead of it being unexpected.
How would these changes socially impact society? Would it realistically result in a matriarchy, or result in oppression? Would sex and gender be more rigid, with people expected to "act" like a boy or girl? would individuals have their entire lives and futures determined by their parents before they were even born? And what would be the social politics of this setting? Would having children be more regulated?

NorthernPhoenix
2017-01-29, 07:22 PM
If you want a magical matriarchy just say only women can do magic. That pregnancy stuff is far more complicated for very little gain.

Freed
2017-01-29, 07:51 PM
But, I mean, aren't Drow a matriarchy? You could just go with the only woman can be priests of the goddess thing like they do...

Cluedrew
2017-01-29, 09:00 PM
You want to justify a matriarchy? The woman are in charge because they are supposed to be. Why? Because reasons, don't you know anything? Worked for males for thousands of years.

As for the maternity magic, I don't think it would make a huge difference. It might shorten the lower, less comfortable and on the help with childbirth survival rates by making sure there is always someone at the ready when the child comes. Other than that I'm not sure if it would have any applications.

Fri
2017-01-29, 09:02 PM
No need to overthink it. Cultural reason is the usual reason of any society. It's especially easier/makes more sense when there's actual living deity/sentient magic in the setting.

Like for example, Minangkabau culture in Indonesia is currently one of the biggest matriarchy culture in the world. Women hold secular title and family line and money and such. The reason is, in their culture only males can hold religious titles, so women hold the secular title (and money) instead, while the males are considered to be living on their mother's or sister's property and expected to live to find their own livelihood as adult. This also makes the culture famous for its diaspora (since the males emigrate all over).

You can turn this into magic related easily. Their deity/magic source prefer male priest (or vice versa) and so on and so on.

Vitruviansquid
2017-01-29, 09:14 PM
I want to develop a matriarchal setting and am trying to come up with a way to realistically justify it, so I came up with an idea. Human beings naturally developed the ability to use magic. It is a common thing that all people use to different extents, one way in which extends to biology.
Say that women developed the ability to biologically determine the sex of their child, and pregnancy was a more active rather than passive experience. Gestation could be sped up or slowed down to a certain extent, and they could choose when and where to give birth instead of it being unexpected.
How would these changes socially impact society? Would it realistically result in a matriarchy, or result in oppression? Would sex and gender be more rigid, with people expected to "act" like a boy or girl? would individuals have their entire lives and futures determined by their parents before they were even born? And what would be the social politics of this setting? Would having children be more regulated?

If you could change the sex of your baby, there would be neither matriarchy nor patriarchy.

Keltest
2017-01-29, 09:42 PM
If you want a matriarchy, just have it be a matriarchy. Not every cultural detail needs some amazingly thought out cause dating back 5000 years. It could be religion, it could be tradition, it could be because the women have coincidentally all been the better rulers...

The harder you try to justify it, the more likely your audience will overthink the narrative and destroy it.

EscherEnigma
2017-01-29, 09:43 PM
A simple explanation is "magic is inherited through the matrilineal line". Meaning that it doesn't matter what your dad's magical talent was (magical prince or pauper), just your mother's. With that in mind, a daughter is likely to be much more important then a son.

Mmagsgreen
2017-02-13, 11:04 AM
You might want to approach this another way: what is the total end result that you want? Figuring that out and then filling out how it got to be that way might be a bit easier than trying to figure out all the possible ramifications of one detail.

As other posters have pointed out, you have the benefit of the fact that there is virtually no end of potential historical reasons for why a people would do a thing.

Clistenes
2017-02-13, 12:53 PM
All you need is to have women teach magic only to their daughters because of religion, tradition and prejudice. They think men aren't rational enough to handle magic or to get an education. They think their goddess only gives magic to women. They think men are biologically unable to use magic...

Why were women prevented to rule for office, become magistrates or even manage their own money in our own world? Because or tradition and prejudice...

Anxe
2017-02-13, 01:15 PM
I don't think the minor control over gestation that you described would have any effect on society. Control like that is already somewhat possible in modern society (bigger healthier baby through diet and pre-natal vitamins, early birth through induced labor, later birth through C-section). I don't think that's affected gender roles in an extreme way. Widespread availability of contraceptives has probably had a larger impact.

Patriarchy in the real world is partially tradition and partially due to the physical dominance of males. Males are bigger and can physically control females with the threat of violence. Again, modern society is drifting away from that, but its still there.

To simulate a realistic matriarchy in a fantasy world, I think it makes a lot of sense for magic to be something that women are better at. Then women control men through magic in one way or another. Women keep the positions of power because magic prevents men from taking control in most cases.

ImNotTrevor
2017-02-13, 01:28 PM
You want to justify a matriarchy? The woman are in charge because they are supposed to be. Why? Because reasons, don't you know anything? Worked for males for thousands of years.

As for the maternity magic, I don't think it would make a huge difference. It might shorten the lower, less comfortable and on the help with childbirth survival rates by making sure there is always someone at the ready when the child comes. Other than that I'm not sure if it would have any applications.

The reason males were originally placed in charge was because males are bigger and are the half of the species made for makin' stuff more deader. Basically, men were in charge for similar reasons why a guy with a gun is going to be in charge of a guy without a gun (all other factors being equal.)

Species with matriarchal societies in nature usually go one of three ways:
1. The females band together an use social leverage and numbers to their advantage against solitary males or males in smaller groups.
2. The females are the ones that are bigger.
3. There is literally one breeding female who gives birth to everyone. If she dies, everyone is screwed, so everyone bows to her whims and needs.

Knaight
2017-02-13, 01:36 PM
The current state can usually be explained by "it is a matriarchy because it was a matriarchy". A particular group put themselves in power in society, the society they built keeps other members of their group in power, the next generation of power holders repeat the pattern. There's all sorts of ways this happened - this is basically how nobility worked, this is how patriarchal societies work, this is how keeping the power among one race works, this is how economic elites stay economic elites with the power that comes with that, so on and so forth. The specific methodology by which the power is maintained in the group varies highly, with things like overt legal rights, standards of inheritance, access to institutions that put people in positions to wield power (e.g. forms of education/training), cultural biases among power holders that tend to cause them to stay with the in-group, whatever. It's also pretty easy for these things to gradually accumulate with time, whereas breaking them down takes real effort or major shocks to the social system. Way back in the past some culture which is an ancestor of the current culture became a matriarchy for whatever reason, institutional power built around it, and now it's basically inertia. That's all the explanation you need.

Deified Data
2017-02-13, 04:37 PM
There's no real reason to overthink it. A matriarchy would pop up the same way patriarchy did, by arbitrary social and religious restrictions placed on men instead of on women as they are in the real world. Perhaps a holy text eons ago requires that only women be allowed into the clergy, and that men are inherently "unclean" during certain times of the month (without an obvious physical indicator this could be any time the matriarchy chooses!). Perhaps local law dictates that only women can own and run businesses, or that men are innately irrational and aggressive and can't be trusted to make important decisions. All you really have to do is study the real world. Magic doesn't have to be a part of it if you don't want it to.

Traab
2017-02-13, 05:00 PM
Make it as simple as, women on average are stronger magically than men. Therefore they have always been in charge and noone has ever seen a reason to change that. There, its basically the mirror setup for how the real world works, minus magic. No real in depth explanation needed. The strong rule. Women are stronger, therefore women rule.

Unoriginal
2017-02-13, 05:03 PM
I want to develop a matriarchal setting and am trying to come up with a way to realistically justify it

Sorry I can't help you with your idea right now, but why would you think you need to "come up with a way to realistically justify it" ? I mean, there are/were matriarchal societies in our world, it's not that outlandish.


Funnily enough, in our world, for the "men are stronger physically, so they rule" reasoning, there is the other side of the coin, which is "men are more expendable than women from a reproduction perspective, because you need less men to assure the continuation of the community, especially without medical knowledge to make pregnancy less lethal." So in a way it's "men rule because they can assure the community's protection" vs "women rule because they're the one needed for the community to have more generations".

ImNotTrevor
2017-02-13, 05:17 PM
Sorry I can't help you with your idea right now, but why would you think you need to "come up with a way to realistically justify it" ? I mean, there are/were matriarchal societies in our world, it's not that outlandish.


Funnily enough, in our world, for the "men are stronger physically, so they rule" reasoning, there is the other side of the coin, which is "men are more expendable than women from a reproduction perspective, because you need less men to assure the continuation of the community, especially without medical knowledge to make pregnancy less lethal." So in a way it's "men rule because they can assure the community's protection" vs "women rule because they're the one needed for the community to have more generations".

The other side of the coin is why there are several Matrilineal societies, and essentially no truly Matriarchal societies in modern times. In most of the articles I read in searching for matriarchal societies, I didn't find any that didn't try to equalize Matrilineal (property is passed down from mother to daughter) and Matriarchal (Women are in charge). Matrilineal societies are still rare, but in many of those societies men still have spiritual and political authority.

If it was strictly arbitrary, it would be 50/50 patriarchal and matriarchal societies throughout history. Not 99/1.

Max_Killjoy
2017-02-13, 05:26 PM
As others have said, it often comes down to "it is, because it was".

Looking for original reasons, perhaps there was a time when they were almost wiped out by another tribe, and the women had to take up weapons alongside the men as the tribe fought for their survival, and afterwards the female survivors outnumbered the men, and it lead to different expectations about how was running the show. Of course, I find that more likely to lead to something more egalitarian, rather than slanted either way, but humans rarely produce rational results.

Cluedrew
2017-02-13, 07:15 PM
The reason males were originally placed in charge was because males are bigger and are the half of the species made for makin' stuff more deader.Maybe, I'm not an expert on the matter. Still I think that pregnancy and child rearing had more to do to with it than musculature. Especially after the invention of the knife.
If it was strictly arbitrary, it would be 50/50 patriarchal and matriarchal societies throughout history. Not 99/1.Well if it is truly self sustaining (and it is in part) than that coin toss could have just landed on man in ancient Samaria that might of just been the precedent right there.

Again, no expert.

WbtE
2017-02-13, 07:43 PM
As other posters have implied, the first thing you need to do is to decide what you mean by matriarchy. Although it's often thrown around as a solid and clear concept, patriarchy comes in a host of different shades and varieties in Earth's history. The more tightly you define your end result, the easier it will be to develop its history (or historical myth, which might be more important).

Unoriginal
2017-02-13, 07:45 PM
If it was strictly arbitrary, it would be 50/50 patriarchal and matriarchal societies throughout history. Not 99/1.

Never said it was arbitrary, or that it was a coin toss.

Yes, most of the time in primal societies, the people who are best at fighting are put in charge, because it's rare you can deny the stronger person to do anything, unless they have some kind of institution that makes them imposing their will hard. And most societies saw women as ressources to make kids and have sex, and so used them as commodities or trading goods, and as too precious to allow risking to die in fights.

Unoriginal
2017-02-13, 07:48 PM
As other posters have implied, the first thing you need to do is to decide what you mean by matriarchy. Although it's often thrown around as a solid and clear concept, patriarchy comes in a host of different shades and varieties in Earth's history.

Well, matriarchy and patriarchy means "ruled by mothers" and "ruled by fathers", so essentially they're any system where mothers or fathers (or people in those age range) rule.

Newtonsolo313
2017-02-13, 08:50 PM
Well, matriarchy and patriarchy means "ruled by mothers" and "ruled by fathers", so essentially they're any system where mothers or fathers (or people in those age range) rule.

That's the literal definition but it's more that one gender is higher in social status and has more rights

NecroDancer
2017-02-13, 09:07 PM
Simple, though random reasons (maybe a plauge or genetical sickness) men usually die off quicker for some reason so society changed to where woman were given more power becuase they were more likely to live longer and by default keep the government running more smoothly (imagine if every guy in the government was 50% more likely to die of an uncurable sickness). Overtime it just became the cultural norm to give woman more power in society.

Lorsa
2017-02-14, 09:11 AM
I had a matriarchal society in a sci-fi campaign I GM. The women ruled because they were the ones that gave birth to children which obviously made them care about the next generation more than the men which in turn obviously made them better leaders of society.

It also was set up that a woman's status depended partly on the number of children and three were needed to occupy the highest leadership positions.

To them, it was the most logical thing in the world. It was a bit of a culture shock when a spaceship landed which had a very different culture...

mig el pig
2017-02-14, 09:51 AM
And what would be the social politics of this setting?

A women is considered the head of the family. If the oldest women dies, her eldest daughter is condiderd the head and not her father.

A child's family name is the same as the mother.

Inheritance law favors the daughter instead of the sons. Age is also important but a younger daughter with a female descendant passes before a daughter who has no or only male descendants. A son with a female heir is therefor also more important then a unmarried or daughterless son

The more important social functions like lawmakers, judges, lawyers, religious functions are mostly/exclusivly female.

In conversations the female version of words are dominant.
Example:
- Even when talking to a group where the majority are male children they will still be adressed as girls. So let's go girls! instead of Let's go boys!
- In a text she is used instead of he when the sex is not clear/important
- Titles are female, the female version is sometimes also used when adressing a male. I don't know an example in english but in dutch this can be the case

Nearly every important person in history was female. Perhaps 1 or 2 famous notable exceptions (like Elizabeth in England)

Convictions are harsher for women. if a couple is convicted for a crime the man is often considered an accessory while the women is the main culprit.

LokiRagnarok
2017-02-15, 12:11 AM
Titles are female, the female version is sometimes also used when adressing a male. I don't know an example in english but in dutch this can be the case.
Queen would be such an example. ("But... a male queen... is there even a word for that?")

An example in English where a male form is used by default would be "Sir" in militaristic structures, I believe - leading the female Captain Janeway to clarify she would rather be addressed as Ma'am instead of Sir.

mig el pig
2017-02-15, 03:55 AM
An example in English where a male form is used by default would be "Sir" in militaristic structures, I believe - leading the female Captain Janeway to clarify she would rather be addressed as Ma'am instead of Sir.

Ma'am, regardless of sex, instead of sir, in a military structure, would be a perfect example.


Queen would be such an example. ("But... a male queen... is there even a word for that?")

The reign of the Virgin Queen Erik the First and Last of his name will never be forgot.

Frozen_Feet
2017-02-15, 04:08 AM
My first question upon reading this thread was "where's the magic?" The proposed abilities regarding conception are encountered in real life animals, mammals included. You wouldn't need magic to explain or justify them.

However, your follow-up questions reveal some flawed premises. Pregnancy and childbirth have never been as passive experiences to human women. In any society where the connection between sex and pregnancy have been made, women have been able to control who they have kids with, when, where and what kind via methods of abstinence, child abandonment, infanticide, abortion, natural contaceptives etc.. (Some contraceptives found in nature are powerful enough that some people didn't really get that sex leads to pregnancy.)

In fact, when it comes to reproductive control, women have had the advantage since the dawn of time, because a woman knows for sure if the kid is hers, and knows they are about to get one. Men are forced to guess, and this has several social implications. For example, men are on average better at noticing when their spouses cheat on or lie to them. It is theorized this may have an evolutionary basis.

Many of the "oppressive" traditions have been theorized to come into being so men would have even odds. But these all have boundary conditions. I'll get into these more later, but to list a few:

1) solidarity between me AKA bros before hos.
2) abundance of resources; the men must be able to provide women with things women need or want.
3) lack of solidarity between women AKA me, my husband, me with your husband and my kids before you or your kids.
4) ability to altruistically punish other men who break the rules.
5) ability to socially punish women who break the rules.
6) ability to drive off competing men.

mig el pig
2017-02-15, 05:30 AM
Many of the "oppressive" traditions have been theorized to come into being so men would have even odds. But these all have boundary conditions. I'll get into these more later, but to list a few:


Theorized by whom? It might not be your intention but you're writing comes across, for me, as simplistic. "Oppressive" and Even Odds are a bit unnuanced for such a broad subject.

Mankind has been around for 1000's of years. Most of the time without written records and even if they had written records most of those are lost(or can't be translated)

Every society has had different layers, what's acceptable for a men/women in 1 position is unimaginable for a men/women in another position in life. Even within a society and within the same layer their might be big differences. A poor farmer's wife and a poor fisherman's wife might have nearly the same position in life but the fact that the farmer is always around and the fisherman is sometimes gone for 3 to 4 months will change a lot about the responsibilities women had in those communities.

I'm not saying my examples of social diffrences are perfect but they are useable to show to a modern, western audience that some basic concepts in society are completely diffrent.

Mark Hall
2017-02-15, 11:24 AM
I want to develop a matriarchal setting and am trying to come up with a way to realistically justify it, so I came up with an idea. Human beings naturally developed the ability to use magic. It is a common thing that all people use to different extents, one way in which extends to biology.
Say that women developed the ability to biologically determine the sex of their child, and pregnancy was a more active rather than passive experience. Gestation could be sped up or slowed down to a certain extent, and they could choose when and where to give birth instead of it being unexpected.
How would these changes socially impact society? Would it realistically result in a matriarchy, or result in oppression? Would sex and gender be more rigid, with people expected to "act" like a boy or girl? would individuals have their entire lives and futures determined by their parents before they were even born? And what would be the social politics of this setting? Would having children be more regulated?

Palladium Fantasy's "Adventures on the High Seas" has the island of Lemaria, which is a matriarchy, because the founders were a group of women shipwrecked, who significantly outpowered the men that were present... the women were warlocks (in PF, essentially priests of the elements) and priestesses, the men were sailors. The result was a society that locked men into a secondary role.

The changes you suggest could go either way... in a patriarchal society, you could well have women being punished for failing to have a boy, as their father/husband/etc. wanted. Because the difference, so often, is power... whoever holds it has the potential to make life miserable for those who do not. If you want to create a matriarchal society, you have to answer what you mean by that, and how power works in their society. IMO, part of what leads to most D&D-like worlds being relatively egalitarian is that power in that world is less restricted... magical power doesn't require physical strength, as power in early real-world societies so often did. Magical power doesn't even necessarily require cleverness or wisdom, with 3e's sorcerers being around.

So, if everyone has magical power, what power imbalance gives women the edge? Is it that there's a particularly active goddess who prefers priestesses to priests? Having all the divine magic could be a great imbalancer. Did the society develop before the ability to influence gender was really understood, and so there was a much larger proportion of women born than men, leading to women frequently filling positions of temporal power? Are the abilities of men and women different, with women's abilities being somehow more suited to taking control of society?

I'd start with what you want your society to look like... what you mean by matriarchal... then move from there.

Flickerdart
2017-02-15, 11:32 AM
Divine magic comes from gods, who are fickle and demand much worship. Wizards take a lot of study just to cast the most basic cantrip, and essentially devote their lives to research and academics. And then you have sorcerers, who are beholden to no god, teacher, or authority. They inherit their power, it grows with use, and their force of personality dictates how strong they are. Sorcerers are the ideal candidates for becoming leaders in a society.

Now imagine that sorcerous power comes from a bloodline, but it doesn't quite work the same for both sexes. Much like how men on Earth are more likely to be color-blind, in your world women could be much more likely to be born sorcerers. There may be more men in divinity and wizardry as a result, but these disciplines would also get their share of women who want to remain competitive with their gifted sisters.

The gender imbalance may no longer be true now - perhaps the bloodline of sorcery became so diluted that everyone has an even chance - but societal inertia is powerful, so even a historical imbalance will be reflected in contemporary power structures.

Max_Killjoy
2017-02-15, 11:36 AM
Divine magic comes from gods, who are fickle and demand much worship. Wizards take a lot of study just to cast the most basic cantrip, and essentially devote their lives to research and academics. And then you have sorcerers, who are beholden to no god, teacher, or authority. They inherit their power, it grows with use, and their force of personality dictates how strong they are. Sorcerers are the ideal candidates for becoming leaders in a society.

Now imagine that sorcerous power comes from a bloodline, but it doesn't quite work the same for both sexes. Much like how men on Earth are more likely to be color-blind, in your world women could be much more likely to be born sorcerers. There may be more men in divinity and wizardry as a result, but these disciplines would also get their share of women who want to remain competitive with their gifted sisters.

The gender imbalance may no longer be true now - perhaps the bloodline of sorcery became so diluted that everyone has an even chance - but societal inertia is powerful, so even a historical imbalance will be reflected in contemporary power structures.

Sorcerous power is linked to a recessive gene on the X chromosome? :smallwink:

Inevitability
2017-02-15, 11:40 AM
Sorcerous power is linked to a recessive gene on the X chromosome? :smallwink:

Seems unlikely; that would result in men being the ones more likely to have it.

If something is more likely to influence women than man, it may be because a non-sex-determining chromosome carries a gene for sorcerous power that happens to be 'turned off' by an Y-chromosomal gene.

Max_Killjoy
2017-02-15, 01:29 PM
Seems unlikely; that would result in men being the ones more likely to have it.

If something is more likely to influence women than man, it may be because a non-sex-determining chromosome carries a gene for sorcerous power that happens to be 'turned off' by an Y-chromosomal gene.

You are correct... I was just going for a bit of humor without thinking it out.

Coidzor
2017-02-15, 04:09 PM
You could make it so that the Sorcery gene requires two X-Chromosomes to activate, and the more X-Chromosomes, the more powerful.

So <1% of men would have the capacity to be any sort of sorcerer and many of them would be considered unmanly and would have difficulty reproducing if they even were capable. Whereas there's a fair number of women running around out there with more than 2 X Chromosomes, many of them completely healthy, so that would offer a way to explain differences in natural ability.



Alternatively, I believe Ghostwalk in D&D 3.0/3.5 has a ritual that a particular society does that makes the girl children who are subjected to it while they're in the womb or babies grow up and have green eyes and be sorceresses and the boy children grow up to be stronger and tougher and be more vicious warriors.

So you could just have some kind of ritual that the ruling caste of magic-using women use that passes on magic-use to women and makes men into loyal protectors or possibly very intelligent and creative mundanes who can take care of the arts and sciences, which could be interesting if technology starts to really develop in the setting.

Inevitability
2017-02-16, 01:14 PM
Alternatively, I believe Ghostwalk in D&D 3.0/3.5 has a ritual that a particular society does that makes the girl children who are subjected to it while they're in the womb or babies grow up and have green eyes and be sorceresses and the boy children grow up to be stronger and tougher and be more vicious warriors.

So you could just have some kind of ritual that the ruling caste of magic-using women use that passes on magic-use to women and makes men into loyal protectors or possibly very intelligent and creative mundanes who can take care of the arts and sciences, which could be interesting if technology starts to really develop in the setting.

The spell in question is called Sherem Transformation, for those interested.