Sophie (alias_sqbr) wrote in little_details,
Sophie
alias_sqbr
little_details

Designing a matriachy

EDIT (again): Thankyou for all your replies, they're great, although man do I have a lot of research ahead of me :)

Long, rambly post, I'll understand if noone can help. Just googling to double check I knew nothing turned up heaps of info, so this community has helped already :)

I'm looking for either information or just better search terms to help me design the nature and societies of an inherently matriarchal1 humanoid species. I'm mainly after societies/species where females are in power, but ones where both sexes have power are useful too. The kind of questions I would like to be able to answer but can't are

-What happens to an unfaithful husband? Wife?
-Would women be allowed to be soldiers/other male roles? (I'm assuming men would generally be barred from female roles)
-What would the attitude be towards homosexuality? (obviously this would probably vary so I can say what I like, but I'm curious as to precedent)
-What is the attitude to unmarried/childfree women?

Any fiction with plausible matriarchies would be good too. The "Dark Jewels" trilogy was interesting, most of the ones I've come across feel like metaphors expressing the authors take on gender rather than workable societies.

What I know already:

The only female dominated mammals I've been able to find are hyenas and lemurs. I stumbled upon both by luck, and am having trouble finding any more detailed information on how their societies work beyond what's in the pages I've linked and the little in wikipedia. Googling "female domination" by itself was a very bad idea :D

Bonobos are interesting, but only somewhat useful since I don't feel like writing porn :)

I googled "matriarchy", and apart from possibly non-existent egalitarian goddess worshipping societies of the distant past as discussed here2 they all seem roughly similar (to my simplistic brain :))

Namely, women own the land and run the household, with men either staying with their wife/mother or going on long trading trips. Men tend to be the kings, soldiers and traders with women running everything else. The relative power of the genders varies considerably. Examples: Mosuo, Khasi and various hunter gatherer societies.

I must admit to skimming and giving up on several of these, since they got really verbose and weren't all that useful to my specific needs. I'm a maths major, long essays hurt my brain! Still, are there any very different setups I've missed?

1) In the same way humans tend to be patriachal, ie there are exceptions. I'm working on the assumption that human society is an outgrowth of something like chimpanzees, and my humanoids would follow from something like the lemurs. This is a dodgy hack but I'm no biologist or anthropologist, so forgive me :)
2) Not very even handed, but gives the gist.
Tags: history (misc)
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  • Inheritance in 1735 Alsace

    Setting Alsace, 1735. A very rich French nobleman with an estate in Alsace dies unmarried, leaving no children, no surviving parents, no brothers,…

  • English Language Resource on 18th Century French Country Houses

    I'm working on a piece of writing about Gustave Flaubert*. For most of his life he lived in Croisset, in a house his father purchased. The Flauberts…

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