Creating Matriarchies

In modern times, human societies are overwhelmingly patriarchal. That creates a great opportunity for worldbuilders to make their setting stand out – it’s going to be a long time before matriarchal societies get boring. Unfortunately, many depictions of these cultures feature a simple role reversal. A matriarchy isn’t just a patriarchy with women in place of men. Here’s some guidelines that will help you build realistic matriarchies.

What is a Matriarchy?

First, we have to know what we’re talking about. Some scholars argue that egalitarian societies are actually matriarchal societies, because even if they could, women wouldn’t choose to oppress men. Others define a matriarchy as a society that is woman-centered, but not necessarily woman-controlled. They have some good points, but we’re trying to create an interesting setting. So for our purposes, I’ll define a matriarchy as a society where all else being equal, a woman will have more authority than a man. I’m also going to say this is true at all levels of leadership – from an empress all the way down to the head of a family.

The Biological Causes of Patriarchy

While many gender characteristics are arbitrary and vary from culture to culture, a few are closely tied to our reproductive differences, and lead to gender roles that are surprisingly consistent across cultures and over time.* We’re going to look at those, because they’ll tell us why rule by men is so common, and how we might tip the scales back toward women without altering everything we know about gender.

So what are these all-important differences?

Women bear children.

While men generally have little reason to say “no” when a woman wants to reproduce with them, women have nine months of inconvenience and a possibly life-threatening ordeal to look forward to. As a result, men have a much greater incentive to control women than women have to control men. Women raising children can benefit from a man’s labor and resources, but they don’t need power over men just so they have children to raise.

While you can’t change men’s incentive to control women, you can make reproductive control impossible to achieve. Creating an effective means of birth control is the first step. The more effective and universal birth control is, the less effective rape becomes as an evolutionary strategy.

A few changes to human biology can go even further. Just give women the ability to choose whether they keep, delay, or discard a potential pregnancy. Even better, you could make women infertile when they are under stress. That would make it very difficult for a man to get a woman to have his child under duress. Whatever your methods, your goal is to make pleasing women the only way that men can reproduce. That will change the balance of power dramatically.

Men are stronger and more aggressive.

During times of limited mating opportunities, men may have to engage in risky conflicts in order to reproduce. Their additional physical power and aggressiveness isn’t always bad – it makes them good protectors. But protection generally goes hand in hand with oppression. If you look at other protector/producer partnerships, you’ll find that the protector inevitably controls the producer.

In times of war and upheaval, men’s ability and willingness to fight becomes an asset to society. Warlike cultures will probably glorify men more than they would otherwise. So in a matriarchy, a long history of peace is likely.

You can also alter biology to solve this problem. Just making women and men the same size would have dramatic consequences. In animal species, the larger sex is usually more violent, and more dominant. Smaller men would be both a cause and an indicator that their role in society isn’t an aggressive one.

Magic can also even out the physical power balance between the genders. If everyone has magic, that extra male strength won’t mean as much.

Using Social Factors to Create Matriarchy

You can further incline your society toward matriarchy by devising a series of historical events that have taught the population that women, not men, will keep everyone happy, productive, and safe. The requirements for this are twofold:

  1. Men make some big screw up, and as a result many important male leaders are killed or ousted.
  2. There are women ready to fill the power vacuum. They provide a solution for the terrible screw up.

A minor example is modern day Iceland. During the global economic bubble, most of the banks in Iceland did an incredible amount of risky lending. They put Iceland on top of the financial world – until the economic collapse. When it was over, the country was in financial ruins, and the only bank left standing was the one run by women instead of men. Shortly after, the first female Prime Minister of Iceland – who was openly lesbian – was elected.

While Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time setting is not matriarchal, its history could have created a matriarchy. In that setting, every male mage went crazy and did terrible damage, and female mages saved everyone. The natural result of these events would have been greater respect for female mages, not the suspicion the books depict.

Factors That Won’t Create a Matriarchy

There are a couple of factors that seem likely to influence the balance of power between genders, but historically have not – at least not on their own:

  • The level of demand for women. When women are in high demand as mates, a bride price is offered for them. When they aren’t, the bride’s family provides a dowry. Either way, women are still treated like commodities; the only change is the wealth of their fathers.
  • The uncertainty of male parentage. While cuckolding is a problem for men, patriarchy has solutions. For one, there’s monogamous marriage. Secondly, matrilineal descent can be combined with patriarchy. For instance, a king would be succeeded by his sister’s sons rather than his own. This ensures his resources are passed to children he’s related to.

What Are Matriarchal Cultures Like?

You probably come from a culture with a lot of legends about great warriors. That’s because your culture is patriarchal. Switching to a matriarchy doesn’t mean having women warriors win glorious battles*, it means glorifying all the qualities that are strongly tied to women.

Chief among those qualities is motherhood. Even in a patriarchy, mothers often have an honored position. In a matriarchy, mothers will almost certainly dictate the law of the land. You can expect strong extended families led by a woman everyone is descended from. Leaders would likely be referred to as mothers – “Clan Mother” instead of “Clan Chief.”

There may not be marriages as you know them. Monogamous marriage – with a man and wife living together – exists primarily to allow men to care for offspring that he can be relatively sure are his. Women benefit from marriage by getting the devotion and resources of a man, but having her brother help out could serve just as well.

What’s more, mothers often prefer their sons to stick around rather then going off to marry. That’s probably why many societies with female family heads have “visiting marriages” – instead of a couple living together, the man visits the woman at her home. Generally, this is a system of serial monogamy; they split up and see other people when they want to. Any children born of the union are part of their mother’s family, and their primary male caretaker is their uncle. The father usually still plays a minor, and often ceremonial, role in their life. An unknown father would be a personal disappointment, but not something that’s culturally taboo.

If husbands and wives live together in your matriarchal culture, it will probably be matrilocal – the husband leaves his family and comes to live with his wife and her parents. In this situation, daughters would become much more valuable than sons – not just because women would be considered superior, but because they won’t leave the family when they marry.

In a matriarchal society, traditional “men’s work” would be degrading. You could even make your society vegetarian – across cultures, meat is almost always provided by men, whether by hunting or managing livestock. Perhaps your culture has a supporting belief system that states men are “unclean,” using their association with animal slaughter and warfare as a justification for oppressing them.

For any career that has significant cultural value, you can expect women to dominate. Women would be scholars, scientists, doctors, lawyers, and business leaders. Men, on the other hand, might be restricted to menial labor. If you are creating a warlike society, all the generals and higher officers would probably be women, even if the average soldier is still a man.

Men who do gain prestige would be from the most wealthy and powerful families. The only path to recognition for other men would be through their association with their notable sisters, mothers, and wives.

Choosing Gender Stereotypes

So far I’ve discussed gender characteristics that have a biological basis, and are surprisingly stable. Gender stereotypes, on the other hand, are arbitrary associations. They don’t have much basis in reality, but they are used to justify existing gender roles and the current balance of power. You’ll need some for your culture; otherwise, you’ll end up with an egalitarian society. While that would be fantastic in real life, it won’t lead to the matriarchy we’re aiming for in this post.

Here are some common types of gender associations that are completely arbitrary. Gender stereotypes always come in pairs, spreading the idea that men and women are polar opposites:

  • One gender is lustful, the other is prudish.
  • One gender is smart and wise, the other is stupid and foolish.
  • One gender is passionate, the other is logical.
  • One gender is virtuous, the other is sinful.

This may be hard to imagine, but you can make a matriarchal culture where women are believed to be lusty, foolish, passionate and sinful. Stereotypes don’t change the balance of power, they only justify it. In cases where women are given the more positive trait, it will justify why they should rule and why men must be controlled. When men are given the more positive trait, it will be used to place as much burden on them as possible – explaining why they have to devote all their time and energy to serving women.

And of course, don’t forget to give your genders contrasting hairstyles, clothing, and assigned colors. The women of your culture would be laughed at if they were ever mistaken for men.

Using a matriarchal society will mean rethinking many of the conventions you are used to. But it’s those small and interesting details that will make your world come alive.

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  1. Joab

    Thank you so much! I’m currently mulling a story set in a matriarchy so this is very timely!

  2. Saumya

    This is incredible. As a feminist and writer, I learned a lot! Thank you!

  3. Lillian Ripley

    Great post- I’d like to add some ideas that came to my mind:
    The most convincing argument I’ve heard to explain why men were sent to war and women were kept at home is that men are more expendable than women. Because one man can impregnate multiple women at the same time, losing the majority of the male population does not change how many children can be produced. In a matriarchy the disposability of men can be the driving philosophy behind using them in the militia as well as why men are valued less and subjugated by the women. Men could even be considered dead as soon as they are born.
    In nature, when the females choose their mates, it is common for only a few males to be chosen. This compounds the replaceability of men by dividing them into the valuable alpha males and the unwanted beta males.
    Even in our patriarchal culture men are still threatened by this concept of replaceability.
    An interesting product of patriarchy are all the theories and philosophies that were created to downplay or remove the woman’s role in reproduction. Aristotle posited that women supplied matter but the man supplied the soul via his semen. Spermists believed that sperm were miniature complete humans that only needed women as incubators. In a matriarchy, sperm could be viewed as nothing more than lubrication and that sex merely stimulated the women to start the pregnancy process.

    • Chris Winkle

      Great ideas! I thought about the expendability vs strength factor after reading your costuming piece, and I think it’s really two ways of looking at the same thing. Women are the limiting factor on reproduction, therefore most men are expendable, therefore they have to compete with one another to reproduce, therefore they become stronger and more aggressive in order to compete, and then all of those factors lead to them being the ones that go to war. And as you point out, a Matriarchy wouldn’t change that, men would still compete for women. Although in a patriarchy they compete by controlling women or at least trying to wear down a women’s resistance (“she’s playing hard to get”), whereas in a Matriarchy they would probably peacock in the manner of birds, hoping to impress and be selected. Being an alpha male might mean being a man who has earned the favor of women, instead of being the man who wins directly against other men.

      Great point about cultural notions of reproduction. Reminds me of the phrase “bearing his children.” Clearly patriarchal influence there.

    • Vilya

      “In a matriarchy, sperm could be viewed as nothing more than lubrication and that sex merely stimulated the women to start the pregnancy process.”

      If interested, there is a very similar example for this narrative on reproduction in The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. (

  4. Kitti

    ” The more effective and universal birth control is, the less effective rape becomes as an evolutionary strategy.” THIS is basically the absolute best thing about modern society. You might think the best thing is hot water or sliced bread in a bag, but in truth, birth control and safe abortions are making life more worthwhile for everyone.

    • Kiersten

      Actually I think the best thing is plumbing and sanitation, but you’ve got a great point here too!

  5. Vilya

    Awesome writing, thank you!

  6. Maria

    I’m really arriving late to the party, but here is my two scents. In the few studies that have been made of the few matriarchar societies that exists, the common dominator have been economical domination. We can’t know what started this form of culture, but in the time of the studies all economic power was held by the older women of the clans. This did not in any way mean that life was always easy for women, since being young and/or poor is hardship whate ever gender you have. But the women always held power over the fertile land and over the means of production. Interesting is that the men worked much harder than the women, and yet held lower social status. You can compare that to the african societies of today, where the women do most of the labour and still have a very low position in society. Economic power is always the key to social status and influence. The western approach to men’s work to support their families as a reason for their dominance is a fairly new concept. Usually hard work is not a factor in desciding who governs a society.

    • JXMcKie

      Interesting comment by Maria, and yes, I very much agree…Economical domination seems to be paramount in determining the social hierarchy ! But the is also another factor in play in many societies…warfare and violence in general ! As is observed by Maria, there are and has only been relatively few true matriarchies (if any at all…most purported matriarchies seems to have been matrilineal and matrilocal societies, rather than “pure” matriarchies) ! What exactly is the reason for this ? One good guess is probably warfare and general use of violence. A lot of evidence points to the conclusion (albeit somewhat vaguely) that most agrarian societies, started out being, well maybe not entirely matriarchal, but often matrilineal at least, but eventually their participation in warfare, gave the men the “fulcrum” to gain the upper hand, and dominate society. It seems that the more violent and warlike a society was, or had to be to protect itself from outside invaders, the more quickly it became patriarchal and male-dominated. The men simply used their experience and proficiency with violence, to eventually oust women´s control of the economy (and religion) and become dominant ! And while women can be violent and can participate in warfare, there many reasons for men to historically, dominate in this field : 1) Men being on average larger and stronger than women, 2) Male testosterone coding for more aggressive behavior, 3) Men killed in battle, is more easily replaced/not as much an impediment for procreation, as if fertile women were killed in battle, 4) Some studies point to loss of a mother, as being psychologically harder/more damaging to children, than loss of a father and so on ! All this meant that men came to dominate warfare in all societies I have ever heard about and this MUST have been a factor with regard to male societal dominance ! Any depiction of a fictional matriarchy should at least consider this !

  7. Ty

    Is there any way Mythcreants can re-explored this topic again? I feel like there might be more to add. I’d love for this to be discussed further.

  8. Cay Reet

    Just one small detail about the vegetarian idea (make the society vegetarian, so meat provision isn’t a point): women profit much more from meat during adulthood than men do, even though they’re more likely not to eat any. Due to the menstrual cycle, a woman’s body makes good use of both protein and iron (readily available especially in red meat) to recover after each period. A fully-grown male, however, doesn’t really need much protein. There are also theories that if women had the same access to meat as men do during adolescence, they would be taller and physically stronger on the whole. In a lot of societies, girls are either not given as much meat as boys or are disencouraged from eating more of it.

    • Chris Winkle

      That’s a good thought, anemia due to iron deficiency does affect many women around the world. That’s a good basis for thinking about the relationship between women and meat in a society. Alternately, giving your society a good plant source of protein and iron could further empower women and reduce the importance of men.

      • Cay Reet

        Yes, in a Sci-Fi or fantasy environment, it would be easy enough to find a plant or two which are rich on protein and iron, so vegetarianism is perfectly fine. A cross between a green vegetable (green vegetables hold the highest iron concentration) and something like soy (with a strong protein) would be a good idea.

        I think one reason why we connect meat so much to a man’s diet and much less to a woman’s is that we know the protein in the meat helps with building up muscles – and men still often are defined by physical strength. Since women are supposed to be slender and petite rather than tall and strong (at least these days), giving them less protein in a diet or suggesting they eat less seems a viable strategy. However, as mentioned, they’d profit from it much more than men.

        In addition, meat usually wasn’t as readily available as it is in industrialized countries today and boys tended to get their fill first before girls got it, because boys were considered ‘more important’ than girls. That, of course, would be different in a matriach’s society.

  9. Sedivak

    I’m sorry but my formal logic sense is tingling in relation to the following argument:

    “In times of war and upheaval, men’s ability and willingness to fight becomes an asset to society. Warlike cultures will probably glorify men more than they would otherwise. So in a matriarchy, a long history of peace is likely.”

    The very last sentence is a non sequitur.

    You say that men were good at war. This means that war lead to patriarchy. This would imply that long peace lead to weakening of patriarchy (theoreticaly to matriarchy). But (from the viewpoint of formal logic) it does not mean that matriarchy leads to peace. You would have to introduce another premise to the system (like men being more inclined to start wars than women – and that is tricky)

    • American Charioteer

      Their reasoning may have been that a long history of peace is a prerequisite for a matriarchy. But you are correct, the article draws quite a strong conclusion from incomplete premises.

    • Numa Pompilius

      No, your formal logic sense is wrong. “If war, then patriarchy” = “If not patriarchy, then not war” “If not war, then not patriarchy”.

      • Numa Pompilius

        * not “If not war, then not patriarchy”

      • Sedivak

        Sorry – hard disagree on that.

        “If war, then patriarchy = If not patriarchy, then not war ” is a fallacious argument of the same grade as: “If it rains then streets are wet = If the streets are wet then it rains.” Both of these statements contradict formal logic – the streets can be wet for reasons unconected to rain and wars can be started for reasons unconected to patriarchy.

        Beside the argument being fallacious I also believe that it is wrong or at least unfounded.

      • American Charioteer

        I think there is a disagreement of the meaning of the sentence: “In a matriarchy, a long history of peace is likely.”

        It seems that Sedivak is taking this sentence to mean “if there is a matriarchy then peace will follow” while Numa Pompilius is taking it to mean “if there is a matriarchy, then there was peace preceding it.”

        I don’t think either of you are making a logical error, but are using different terms. If we assume that “¬Patriarchy=Matriarchy,” then
        Numa is correct in claiming:
        (Past war -> Patriarchy) -> (Matriarchy -> ¬Past War)
        And Sedivak is correct in rejecting:
        (Past war -> Patriarchy) -> (Matriarchy -> ¬Future War.)

        All of the relevant relationships are shown below.

        Premise from article: “Past war -> Patriarchy.”

        Converse of premise: “Patriarchy -> Past War.”
        [NOT implied by premise]

        Inverse of premise: “¬Past War -> ¬Patriarchy.”
        [NOT implied by premise]

        Contrapositive of premise: “¬Patriarchy -> ¬Past War.”
        [IMPLIED by premise] NUMA

        Statement unrelated to premise: “¬Patriarchy -> ¬Future War.”
        [NOT implied by premise] SEDIVAK

        • Sedivak

          Yes that seems to be correct. Thank you.

  10. Known Foreground

    What seems important to me, is social justice aspect of writing a matriarchal society. As a man, is man’s life in matriarchy really my story to tell (since I haven’t experienced gender-based oppression)? Isn’t it better to write about woman’s life in matriarchy instead? I try to avoid obviously problematic moments, such as vilification of matriarchy (which is reasoned not by “men and women should be equal”, but by “women have ‘no moral right’ to have more power than men”), mockery of female-dominated society (matriarchal structure of society becomes butt of jokes, can come as “Straw Feminist” or “Persecution Flip” tropes, saying women shouldn’t have power and/or turning idea of women being in power into a joke), or narrative that either absurdly exaggerate sexism against men or completely erase it (for example, society is shown as matriarchal but there are men who achieve power without any gender obstacles).

    If I write it from a woman’s point of view, which aspects it’s better for me not to touch? If I write it from a man’s point of view, which topics should be avoided? How to avoid unintentionally offending women by that setting?

    • Naomi

      Check out “If I Pay Thee Not in Gold” by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey. It depicts a matriarchal society where because women are the only ones capable of magic, men are treated as less than animals. The story follows the adventures of a young woman and several slaves as they endeavor to find a magic crystal for the Queen.
      I read it as a teenager, so I will say that its not the finest piece of writing, but the concept was interesting.
      In the society presented, women are more aggressive and warlike than the example above, mainly due to a coming of age ceremony that involves unarmed gladiatorial combat between a young woman and a man. While he uses his brute strength to try to kill her in the arena, she must rely on her wit and magic to either kill or subdue him.
      It’s been a while since I read the book, so I don’t remember much else besides a child remarking on the protagonist’s long hair: “Mama, she has hair like a man!”

      Despite the bad writing and my poor recollection, I do remember being appalled at how the men were treated and the standards the women were to adhere to in this rather cutthroat society.
      Hopefully that helps a little.

  11. Cay Reet

    After rereading the article and thinking about it again for a moment, there are a few things I’d like to point out about some of the premises.

    1) basing the matriarchy around women’s ability to have children.
    One big problem for me with this is that you will always have some women who will not have children, either because they can’t, because they won’t, or because it just never happened for other reasons. How would the take of such a society be on those women? Would they be reviled and looked down on? Pitied for not following the ‘calling’ of a woman? That would be very bad indeed. And what about women past menopause who are not longer fertile? Would they be judged on how many children they had in their lives?
    With the idea of women not being able to conceive under duress, which I’d put in the same line as fertility on the whole, would that lead to women having more power or less power (because men might argue that women need to be ‘protected’ from every kind of stress, including work and politics)?

    2) men screwed up and women took over.
    That could very well lead to matriarchal structures where men are severely oppressed, which can be good, if you want to make a point of it, but comes dangerously close to a persecution flip story.

    What I could see, perhaps for a sci-fi story, would be a premise like ‘war has become so horrid through modern weaponry that actual battle needs to be avoided at all costs’ (think atomic warfare, but worse). Women, being less aggressive and more prepared to work out compromises, would make up a lot of the diplomatic caste of society which, due to the horrible consequences of actual war, would be very important and very revered. That would, in turn, lead to women taking more leading roles in other areas as well, spreading from diplomacy to politics and, in time, perhaps even into business. Men would not necessarily be oppressed, but once women have climbed to the top, there would be the same ‘vitamin B’ among women which today gives men a better chance to get into leading positions. Over a long period of time, this could reverse the relative power dynamics between men and women we have today.

    • Amaryllis

      > “which can be good, if you want to make a point of it, but comes dangerously close to a persecution flip story.”

      I think that we need to be far more careful with the term “persecution flip” (if not avoid it at all, or change its connotations), because on Mythcreants it is used far more negatively than on e.g. TV Tropes, as if the problem was with the concept itself, not harmful stereotypes (that can be in any story, not just PF), or other bigoted message (that also can be in any other work).

      In a patriarchal society, the story about matriarchy is ALWAYS persecution flip. It’s not an option to “make it egalitarian”, because then it wouldn’t be matriarchy. If men aren’t in any way restricted from being in positions of power solely because of being men, it’s not matriarchy regardless of how many women are in positions of power.

      • Chris Winkle

        Amaryllis, if you use the term “persecution flip” differently than what’s standard at Mythcreants, that’s fine, but trying to get everyone else here to go by a different definition than we use in our blog posts will be like throwing pebbles at an oncoming train. At Mythcreants, a persecution flip is not just a setting where oppression is different, but a story that puts emphasis on real-world privileged people being persecuted by real-world marginalized people.

        I say this just because discussions about persecution flips that originate from miscommunication about what the term means won’t be productive. In the end what we all care about are the details of the settings and whether there are problematic implications from that, so that’s the best thing to focus on.

        That said, I would agree that a matriarchal setting and an egalitarian setting are mutually exclusive. However, we can make stories in matriarchal settings that don’t go so far as to be persecution flips by the Mythcreants definition, and I suspect that’s what Cay Reet was going for.

        • Cay Reet

          Yup, that’s pretty much what I meant. Of course, the rule of one gender, no matter which, always means it’s no egalitarian setting. But there’s a difference between ‘women have it easier and there’s next to no men in important positions’ and ‘all men are treated like slaves and only the quality of their genes determines how bad their lives are.’

        • Amaryllis

          Now I seem to understand the concept of “matriarchy without persecution flip”, but I don’t think that emphasis on oppression is inherently bad. Yes, PF carries additional risks, just like a lot of other genres (the speculative fiction itself carries its risks — high-fantasy setting which is still prejudiced against women or black people or LGBTQIA+ would look more weird than non-fantastic one — why would other world share the prejudice of Earth?). But I still think that matriarchal dystopia is a legitimate genre. I think that the article “Telling a Story in a Prejudiced Setting” applies here. Oren Ashkenazi pointed out in comments that rules for portraying matriarchal oppression of men are a lot less strict. It can be problematic, if story supports gender stereotypes, blames feminism for misandry, or tries to “teach” men about misogyny. I’m thinking of writing the PF story “just for fun”, or to think about different world. For example, “A Brother’s Price” by Wen Spencer is very clear about oppression of men in its Queensland.

        • Zblossoms

          Well, “The Power” by Naomi Alderman is a persecution flip and was called a feminist novel. I still doubt that the whole persecution flip is problematic — if Naomi Alderman can write something like the genderflipped version “The Handmaid’s Tale”, why can’t I?

          • Cay Reet

            Persecution flip as understood here means that you make a privileged group the oppressed one and a minority/oppressed group the oppressor. The problem with that is that you have to be very, very good at writing to make this work without overdoing it. Otherwise, instead of ‘learning’ something from the story, all the privileged group will take away from it is ‘we need to tighten our control on that other group or we’ll suffer a horrible fate in the future’ which isn’t a good thought to take away from any kind of media.

          • Oren Ashkenazi

            Editor’s Note: I have deleted a comment because the commenter was pretending to be someone else with a different opinion on the same argument. Changing your mind is fine, but this is a form of sock puppeting and is not allowed.

  12. Lily Black

    > Choosing Gender Stereotypes

    What do you think about the idea of having real-life gender stereotypes in a fictional matriarchy?

    • Dvärghundspossen

      I think that’s potentially a cool idea, if done right. You could have similar stereotypes but SPIN them a different way. Like, men are more aggressive than women, and therefore they don’t make good leaders. They’re gonna get angry all the time for irrational reasons, like they feel their pride is under attack or something, and when angry they make short-sighted and stupid decisions. Women make better leaders because they have this nurturing instinct, and if you’re fit to nurture children you’re fit to nurture a country. IDK, I just threw it out there off the top of my head, you’d probably have to put a lot of thought into this to really make it work. Also not overdo it to the point where it becomes persecution flip, AND also show in the story that these are prejudiced ideas; you’re not ACTUALLY writing some kind of female-essence-feminist manifesto. (I don’t know if “female-essence-feminism” is a word in English, I know what to say in Swedish, but whatever, you probably understand what I was going for.)

  13. V

    I’m not going for a matriarchy but I can use some of this.

    One thing I would like to point out though is the influence of pregnancy and lactation/weaning’s influence towards patriarchy.
    A woman is tied up with the children for not 9 months but rather a 15± .
    Considering how much training you need for some jobs having a 10 month period of time where you are limited because of the children is unreasonable. Especially when you can get pregnant again and have multiple periods overlap.
    So the people expected to be held up are trained in jobs that are not hindered by the children. Then it becomes traditional even when the restrictions are not actually interfering, now it’s cultural.

    • Cay Reet

      In a modern society, women usually work more or less regularly (except for a small group of very dangerous jobs) until a couple of weeks before the baby is due (six here in Germany, other countries have less or a bit more). They could, theoretically, start working again around 3 months after the birth (earlier even, provided there’s a good care for the infants and they don’t breastfeed, then it could be something like another six weeks for them to recover from birth). Overall, that would make the time away from the workplace something akin to four to five months, less if there’s a good care for infants they can use. In modern society, breastfeeding is no longer a necessity, because other viable food sources exist. In a medieval-type fantasy world, it would be different, of course.

      • SunlessNick

        Further to this, women working – including physically strenuous jobs – has been the norm for most of history. It was a fairly narrow window of time that it was expected that women in general would not (and that was accomplished mostly by defining domestic labour as not really work). When it comes to child care, wet nurses weren’t just a thing the upper classes used.

  14. Cat

    I’m late to the party, but here’s an idea: what if forcing yourself on another person is actually painful for the perpetrator, maybe due to a natural defense mechanism? Or if you have auras, for example, it could taint the aura and bring severe consequences. Just some sort of unavoidable punishment for rape. The species has no choice but to please the female in order to survive and evolve. I don’t know how this would resolve in the long term, but in fantasy that’s not really an issue. One does wonder: in a “real world scenario”, could this be a beneficial feature or would it eventually disappear from the gene pool?

    • Cay Reet

      Most male beings in nature have to be nice to the female to propagate. That is why males have to go through mating rituals to interest the female and be chosen. They first have to prove their worth, often compare to others, then they may get the chance to impregnate one (or in some species several) female/s.

  15. Celena

    I had an idea for a matriarchy where women don’t need men to reproduce. Do you think that would work?

    • Cay Reet

      Do men exist in this place or do you have a species that is completely female?

      There can, of course, be technological or magical ways to take men out of reproduction, but one question would be ‘why?’ Was it a necessity because a large amount of men were killed by disease or war? Nature developed two different sexes to mix up genes during reproduction for a reason, after all. Of course, you can also mix the genes of two (or more) women for their offspring, but what would make that preferable to regular reproduction?

      If there are still men around in that society, which jobs do they have? If there aren’t, then is it a matriarcy at all? If there’s only women, who else but them would rule?

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