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Mr. Mask
05-23-2013, 05:38 PM
Does anyone know much about some of the effects of a high female to male ratio?

I did a bit of study, out of curiosity, but cannot find much data. A war in South America involving the Triple Alliance left places with a high female population, the most incredible case being 20 to 1 in female favour.

I was wondering what effects this might have on a society, on economics and other such things. For simplicity, let us assume that things won't be re-stabilized any time soon (such as, we'll assume it's impossible to bring men in from other places to make up for the difference). Here are my thoughts thus far:


Women would suddenly be trained in a lot of trades where they were uncommon, for one thing. This could end up having implications on females being in such work places, even after gender balance is restored (for one thing, you'll get a lot of young men being taught by women).

If polygamy is considered an option, it will gain a lot of popularity due to the low number of males. If it isn't, it might be legalized if the government thinks the situation isn't likely to fix itself any time soon.

Tensions are likely to be high in the female population. Not just due to sexual competition. They'd have to deal with managing homes and children, as well as learning new trades and probably doing more work than should reasonably be handled. I can imagine daycare-like centres being established, just so they can get more time in the fields.
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Back to the tension, the lack of male partners will add salt to the wounds--especially in societies where being marries and having children is important. If polygamy wasn't legalized, that'd make things worse--but even with it legalized or originally legal, you'll get some nasty conflict.

If there is threat of war, raids, or the like--you're suddenly going to get women involved in warrior cultures or militia (more probably both). Either way, they'll end up arming themselves to fight off wolves or the like on the farms, even in a first world country of the modern day (well, more depending on how rough the farming areas are), and will have to join police forces if the culture necessitates them.
This could have some major effects in how much power women have in the society, even if gender balance is restored.


There is some interesting speculation possible as to how human cultures are likely to adapt, if the situation remains. Would men end up being considered highly important, perhaps more than originally? Or, maybe they'd be shifted out of the main structure of power altogether? Or, they could easily be seen as less important, though are likely to be sheltered to preserve them.



Do my ideas sound logical, or are there problems? Have any of you put some thought or study into these kinds of possibilities?

cornflake
05-23-2013, 09:09 PM
You seem to be coming at this from a very particular view of women and societal roles and such. What society are you starting with?

Mr. Mask
05-23-2013, 09:16 PM
Was thinking more along the lines of Brazil in the twentieth century. But... most of my thinking was being pretty vague.

lalyil
05-23-2013, 09:23 PM
I do wonder if you mean this would be an international state though, or just a national one? Cos most women would handle a conflict differently rather than going to war (unless they were playing a male role as a leader in a patriarchal society... as is the world today)

cornflake
05-23-2013, 09:23 PM
Was thinking more along the lines of Brazil in the twentieth century. But... most of my thinking was being pretty vague.

I don't think it was.




Women would suddenly be trained in a lot of trades where they were uncommon, for one thing. This could end up having implications on females being in such work places, even after gender balance is restored (for one thing, you'll get a lot of young men being taught by women).

If polygamy is considered an option, it will gain a lot of popularity due to the low number of males. If it isn't, it might be legalized if the government thinks the situation isn't likely to fix itself any time soon.

Tensions are likely to be high in the female population. Not just due to sexual competition. They'd have to deal with managing homes and children, as well as learning new trades and probably doing more work than should reasonably be handled. I can imagine daycare-like centres being established, just so they can get more time in the fields.
-
Back to the tension, the lack of male partners will add salt to the wounds--especially in societies where being marries and having children is important. If polygamy wasn't legalized, that'd make things worse--but even with it legalized or originally legal, you'll get some nasty conflict.

If there is threat of war, raids, or the like--you're suddenly going to get women involved in warrior cultures or militia (more probably both). Either way, they'll end up arming themselves to fight off wolves or the like on the farms, even in a first world country of the modern day (well, more depending on how rough the farming areas are), and will have to join police forces if the culture necessitates them.
This could have some major effects in how much power women have in the society, even if gender balance is restored.

Everything I bolded originates in a specific societal viewpoint/bent/assumption - that women wouldn't have been doing all manner of jobs, that women wouldn't be teaching boys, that there will be a lot of field work, that women wouldn't have been in military-type roles, etc.

Siri Kirpal
05-23-2013, 09:41 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

You might take a look at post WWI & WWII Germany. Men were scare. I understand one thing people did to ease the burden of unmarried women in a society where marriage was valued was to call ALL adult women "Frau" instead of "Fraulein." But there are probably lots of other things as well.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Diomedes
05-23-2013, 09:48 PM
The end of the first world war left an impact similar to this where teaching and other occupations became very female orientated.


If you're interested in the polygamy side and men still having a very strict dominance on society, you should have a look at the interesting scholarship on classical Sparta. There is evidence that women came to outnumber the men substantially there and for a largely feudal society where women couldn't inherit land, etc. they had great trouble figuring out what to do with so few men and so many women. Polygamy did occur but also much societal upheavel in the law system and the hierarchy of the family. Look up marriage laws for starters.

Mr. Mask
05-23-2013, 10:06 PM
Lalyil: I was thinking of it as a national crisis, but it would be interesting as an international one. In the former case, especially if the cause of the drop in male population is war, it does seem likely that further attacks could be a serious issue. In the latter case... I doubt anyone would be in a state to go to war any time soon.


cornflake: Let's see... the best country for even distribution of work across trades between men and women across occupations... probably Israel, China, or maybe Russia. Anyone know the current trends with Korea, Finland, and Germany?

Even using them as a basis, there will be several areas of occupation that are much less than a 50-50 divide between the genders. Of course, I could be mistaken. Would you know a better example I am missing?


Siri Kirpal: Sat Siri Akal.

Thank you for pointing out that example. Would be curious to know how work distribution between genders is for Germany, to see if I can notice any trends that may have been caused by the sudden imbalance.

Glorious point you make about changing that greeting. Little touches like that can sometimes be more interesting than any number of alien monsters in a story.


Diomedes: Which in turn made way for feminism and greater gender equality. I'll have to look more for better studies of what effect the lack of men had on society... it often seems what you want from the internet is kept inside a box, in the bottom of the sea.

In truth, I was interested in how a matriarchal society may rise from such circumstances. However... I am quite interested in this detail you mention with the Spartans, and would like to thank you for bringing it up. The Spartans are of interest to me, and it's frustrating that none of my research pointed me to this unusual part of their history.

King Neptune
05-23-2013, 10:20 PM
What ratio? Generally at age twenty-one woman out number men by a little (something like 53 % to 47%). If women made up 60%, then it would still be a minor factor. With women at 70% or higher,, there would be significant differences that would increase with the female percent. Also whether this was a permanent thing or just one generation would make a huge difference. If it were only for one generation, there would be few changes in society, or anything. If the the difference were permanent, then everything would change.

Woman have always run everything, but let men think that they were in charge. With 75 % womenn the female part would overtly take everything over. Business would be both more cut-throat and more cooperative, depending on which side you were on. Overt war would disappear, unless one country decided to eliminate another; there would be no incremental changes in politics. Polygyny certainly would the order of the times. la in all it would be a wonderful time.

cornflake
05-23-2013, 10:27 PM
You are still looking at this from a particular bent, which is fine but that's why I asked where your starting point was.

You appear to be starting with known Earth societies. We have no way of knowing that.

If you simply ask about female/male ratios, you could be designing a society of humans who colonized Mars 1000 years prior, people on an alternate Earth, people in an entirely different type of societal setting than we're used to at all, etc., etc.

Same as suggesting a matriarchal society might rise from such a circumstance - that presupposes the previous circumstance would have necessarily not been matriarchal, apparently because it wasn't demographically tilted toward females. These are assumptions you're working from.

Alessandra Kelley
05-23-2013, 10:32 PM
There was also England after the First World War. Part of the culture in England in the Roaring 'Twenties, including advances in women's rights and women in the workforce, was because so many of her men had died in the Great War.

cornflake
05-23-2013, 10:38 PM
There was also England after the First World War. Part of the culture in England in the Roaring 'Twenties, including advances in women's rights and women in the workforce, was because so many of her men had died in the Great War.

In the Homesteading areas of the western U.S., women had a number of rights, including voting rights, decades before their counterparts in other areas of the country, because they basically had the men over a barrel. Though the populations were small and removed from the coastal centers, it had a big impact on women's rights overall.

Chris P
05-23-2013, 10:39 PM
The American South after the Civil War was also fairly reduced in men.

lalyil
05-23-2013, 10:42 PM
Mr. Mask, well, I think what could really help you, especially if you're going outside the "family" institution and looking at things from a more national or international pov, I recommend you read some of Carol Gilligan's work, especially her writings on ethics. She's a feminist psychologist and wrote some groundbreaking theories when it comes to female behavior and way of thinking. Having read some of her work (and being a female myself) was why I personally said I think women would turn to sort conflicts in ways other than war - but ofc, that's only if the female leader is playing a female role and isn't a part of the existing patriarchal world (since then she has to fit in).

Chekurtab
05-23-2013, 10:51 PM
Does anyone know much about some of the effects of a high female to male ratio?

I did a bit of study, out of curiosity, but cannot find much data. A war in South America involving the Triple Alliance left places with a high female population, the most incredible case being 20 to 1 in female favour.

I was wondering what effects this might have on a society, on economics and other such things. For simplicity, let us assume that things won't be re-stabilized any time soon (such as, we'll assume it's impossible to bring men in from other places to make up for the difference).



Do my ideas sound logical, or are there problems? Have any of you put some thought or study into these kinds of possibilities?

It would be really difficult to get married with 20:1 ratio. The society won't look like anything we've known. You're a writer, use your imagination. All your speculations are as good as a speculation can be.

Mr. Mask
05-23-2013, 10:59 PM
King Neptune:Well, in the extreme example of a certain place after the war involving the Triple Alliance in South America, it was 20 to 1. Generally, if we note the effects of what a gender imbalance is likely to cause, then it's mostly a matter of taking those effects to an extremity.

It's true that these things won't have much of a societal effect, if they will be cured in a couple of generations. You still get some immediate reactionary effects, like Siri Kirpal pointed out about Fraulein to Frau, or as Diomedes pointed out about the sudden increase in female teachers after WW1.

They can result in social change, such as the continued standard of women being able to have such jobs, when it otherwise might not have been acceptable. And, of course, the rise of social movements like feminism.


I am quite sceptical about your views on how society would change, with a constant high-female population.


cornflake: I apologize for being unclear. I will be clearer in future. I am indeed thinking of this in terms of our history's cultures.


Excellent example with the homesteads. Same toward Kelley and Chris for their examples.


Lalyil: Just Mask is fine.

I will have to look into Carol Gilligan's writings, it seems. Under the right circumstances, I can see how war would be unlikely under a government with the correct female sensibilities. At the same time, I feel there would be some concern for things taking a darker route. I wouldn't call that darker path male or female... just that the wrong elements can make a society quite gang-like in nature. There are a number of quite savage female gangs I know of, who would give any common man good reason to cower.

And of course, as you say, if they are imitating a violent form of leadership which was present before such events, they are likely to behave much the same as male government.



Of course, there is still the question of what is likely to occur with which gender ends up governing in the majority. In a standard scenario, the leaders and politicians in charge at the time of the disaster are likely to be male, and to survive due to cowering in their luxurious homes away from any battles. This could be enough to keep a patriarchy patriarchal, despite a majority of women, if the government maintains a male dominance.

In a scenario where the female majority is stagnant, it is questionable as to how men would be treated (specially if we exemplified the ratio). With greater importance in leadership? As a lower class minority? As being religiously significant? Perhaps they might even be seen as bad luck, as past causers of war and chaos, who god (or gods, or whatever the society believes in) punished so that they'd be few and dis-empowered?

jkenton
05-24-2013, 12:38 AM
The world my WiP is set on has a birthrate that's been intentionally skewed to create a consistently higher female-to-male ratio in response to what was damn near a global extinction event. Basically, that combined with very reliable birth control, allows the various communities to increase their birthrates as rapidly as possible when, and only when, resources permit.

The original civilization was quite cosmopolitan to begin with, with a wide variety of accepted social mores. After a thousand years, the result I've extrapolated is not polygamy or some harem/pampered precious male scenario, but rather a society where plural relationships are a necessity that became an institution to both facilitate re-population while avoiding inbreeding. It's also not uncommon for members of small communities to "winter up" together during the long, long winter which also encourages the exchange of genetic material. I mean, after 8 months, you've played all the card games, watched all the vids, sang all the songs...

There's no stigma to bastardy, but there is on those who don't know their "pedigree." Not in the fashion that the person has done something wrong, but rather a "I just don't know if it's safe for us to make a kid," sort of way.

As for gender roles, those are pretty much non-existent in my WiP's world to begin with. The original civilization was highly advanced, it was very nearly a post-scarcity economy. Things like gauss weapons and powered armor are fine gender-equalizers. And after the catastrophe, survival and pragmatism became the predominant cultural values.

King Neptune
05-24-2013, 12:50 AM
Go with your idea and see where it takes you. It may end up in a different place from what you expected.

ClareGreen
05-24-2013, 02:35 AM
Mr. Mask, I'm afraid the only one who can answer most of your questions about the society you're trying to create is you. All I can tell you is that women have never been as limited as you seem to think; there have almost always been women in the fields, women in the factories and women on the battlefield. The idea of a woman being nothing more than a wife and mother has been a truly bizarre conceit for the vast majority of people for the vast majority of history.

If you want more recent examples, rather than the immediate post-war periods you may want to look at the wartimes themselves. It's my own suspicion that a huge part of the feminist movement came about because women realised they really could do these things, and then had to give up that independence and meaning when the men came back home.

ULTRAGOTHA
05-24-2013, 03:15 AM
Watch "Foyle's War". In addition to getting to view a really, really good TV show, you'll see a lot of how the British adapted to the majority of men being in the army during WWII. Women drivers, women factory workers, Land girls, etc.

Siri Kirpal
05-24-2013, 06:42 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Sat Siri Akaal to you too!

One other item: My grandmother told me that her husband's grandmother started smoking a corncob pipe after her husband went off to the Civil War (where he died). Apparently, a lot of women did that.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Chasing the Horizon
05-24-2013, 08:07 AM
God's War by Kameron Hurley puts forth the scenario of a matriarchy in the case of male scarcity caused by a never-ending war. It's a damn good read too.

I've also worked through the scenario myself, building a matriarchy from an oppressive patriarchy which was absolutely decimated by a war with vastly more advanced invaders. I twisted up unique mythology, circumstances, and some meddling by outside sorceresses to have the culture switch very suddenly into an oppressive matriarchy. But instead of creating some feminist utopia of peace and prosperity, they created a society that runs on the horrible abuse of men. Of course, my goal was to explore how bad a matriarchy could be. It's really just a bizarre little piece of world-building I did to entertain myself. I haven't actually written about it.

I don't have any real-world basis for that particular culture, though. It was just a 'what if'.

wendymarlowe
05-24-2013, 09:01 AM
I think your big X factor here is birth control. If the gender ratios are skewed because of some major apocalyptic event which also renders birth control hard to get, your gender inequities are going to come down in a hurry. Giving birth is dangerous and has been the leading cause of death among women for centuries - still is in many places.

IMHO, a polygamous society would be much more likely to develop if the women didn't have any power before, either. Take a bunch of 21st century American women and put them down in a 4-1 ratio in a closed environment with men and I think you'd be much more likely to see a situation like a reversed modern-day China, where societal norms continue like they always have been but there's higher competition for the men. Modern first-world women have the education and the expectation to be treated as individuals, not collectibles.

The strength of your police would probably also be a major factor - in places where the government/police cannot or will not enforce order, women have a much higher chance of being raped and assaulted. Combine that with a lack of birth control and you have women who have no real control over their lives, no matter what the law says. Women tend to benefit from a stronger militaristic system (via the local police) because it prevents day-to-day conflicts from always being resolved by whoever is physically the strongest.

Satsya
05-24-2013, 10:06 AM
God's War by Kameron Hurley puts forth the scenario of a matriarchy in the case of male scarcity caused by a never-ending war. It's a damn good read too.

I've also worked through the scenario myself, building a matriarchy from an oppressive patriarchy which was absolutely decimated by a war with vastly more advanced invaders. I twisted up unique mythology, circumstances, and some meddling by outside sorceresses to have the culture switch very suddenly into an oppressive matriarchy. But instead of creating some feminist utopia of peace and prosperity, they created a society that runs on the horrible abuse of men. Of course, my goal was to explore how bad a matriarchy could be. It's really just a bizarre little piece of world-building I did to entertain myself. I haven't actually written about it.

I don't have any real-world basis for that particular culture, though. It was just a 'what if'.

...This brings up an issue, one which may also apply to the OP. Taken in a vacuum, your scenario is a fine example of creativity.

Unfortunately, there's been an ongoing theme in fiction associating female-run societies with dystopias -- specifically, dystopias where the men are treated like slaves. In a way, it's similar to that Save the Pearls book which takes place in a dystopia run by blacks. Perhaps an interesting concept in theory, but the end result can easily be seen as "Look! See how bad the world would be if blacks/women/gays were in charge?". You're using a group currently struggling to not be seen as inferior, and giving your readers a story that says if said group gains power the world will become worse.

I've got a nagging feeling there's a specific term for this problem, but I can't think of it... wish I had a better way to explain it.

Anyway, something to consider.

shaldna
05-24-2013, 01:16 PM
Just to note, there are already more women than men in the world. In fact humans have a rather high comparible percentage of males than other species.

The fact of the matter is that in terms of nature and evolution, having a lot of males just doesn't make sense. There is no need for them. One female can carry one baby, or one litter, but one male can fertilize many, so reduces the need for lots of males, which is why you'll always get a much higher percentage of females than males in any given population or any species.

Looking at the effects of the war in teh UK is a good example of what happens when men are no longer able to do the traditionally male orientated jobs - women just got on with it and started doing the jobs because someone had to. That's the society you will end up with - there will be fewer births, women will do the majority of the work but things will, essentially, carry on more or less as before in terms of economics etc.

Mr. Mask
05-24-2013, 03:36 PM
Kenton: That is an interesting set up. I suspect you have several conflicts planned, based off the setting's social doctrine?


Neptune: I may do just that.


Clare: Just Mask is fine.

Truthfully, I am more interested in the criticism you present, rather than relying solely on my own ideas of the matter. To clarify your concern, that is something I have well in mind.

The problem isn't that there are no female mechanics, or soldiers, or whatever. The problem is, there will be some occupations, where there are not a lot of females skilled in that job. If we used America as an example, only about a quarter of the doctors (last I checked) are female--so a sudden loss of male life could be a problem in that area. In Finland, it's more even, so a sudden loss of male life would put less stress on the medical care--of course, even with a 50% split (which Finland more or less has), suddenly losing half your doctors would be a HUGE problem, and more preferably you'd want occupations to be more like 75% women before such a disaster occurred, in order to avoid serious shock to the system.

Notably, on the doctors, there are a lot of trained nurses who are women, in many countries. Because of this, medical strain would be eased since they could provide basic, all important medical care, and could be trained more quickly into new doctors.

You might be right with your theory on feminism. Certainly, it gives a lot of political incentive to gain female voters' support as well--which tends to be a bigger motivator than what people want, with democracies.


Gotha: I'll add it to my list of series worth watching. Heard of that one... will have to find time to watch the series.


Siri Kirpal: To steady their nerves, perhaps? Or, if it was considered unfeminine to smoke pipes, that seems like a good time to start.

Either way, that's a very nice touch for a story, much like the other one you mentioned.


CtH: Writers are a strange creation, thinking up some of the most bizarre things to amuse our own selves.

That's another source of research (God's War) added to the pile. Thanks for that.


Marlowe: With less men, worries about birth control are likely to be lessened. On a societal level, getting a lot of women pregnant will likely be the goal, rather than something to avoid.
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Of course, the danger and time consumption of childbearing, as well as raising children, will present an interesting dilemma. If a society with a high female population developed, you'd assume important women would have a higher chance of getting married and having children. However... it would be a serious problem if key figures were incapacitated during stages of pregnancy, felt the need to spend more time at home, and of course it'd be very bad if they died.
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So what's likely to happen there...? Important jobs come with the unattractive caveat, "don't get married or have children"?

I agree that if the society was male dominated prior to a disaster, polygamy would be more easily accepted. With Americans, it'd either go like you say, or there could end up being something more akin to legalized male prostitution, or looser marriage systems--depending on the sample size, and which Americans you picked. If it were a bunch of teenagers or college kids put into a closed off environment... you can only imagine the chaos.

If you used America as a whole, I can imagine that being enough to break down a lot of the unity between the states. Depending on how long-term the disaster was, the Mormon and Islamic systems of polygamy would see growth in popularity, and could even be recognized as legal by the local law in areas where it was socially accepted. Largely, law could be very dependant on state or neighbourhood, until the government reorganized and decided to enforce more blanketing laws. Or, they might decide to leave autonomy for those areas. Or, they mightn't reorganize...

The main problem I see of violence, is from surviving/newly-formed male gangs (particularly likely if the major cause of death wasn't in bad neighbourhoods), or from female gangs. Being female doesn't have much to do with that--it's more a problem of social order breaking down and outlaws preying on that.
A good police force would still be a good idea, even if just to break up drunken eye-scratching competitions. That is, as long as your police didn't turn into a gang--a serious problem for some countries, when social order breaks down.


Satsya: If things end up badly with the set up I describe, I'd figure the sudden, traumatic imbalances would be more of a factor than the fact women are involved. If you suddenly had a huge death toll of women in America, I can imagine things being a lot worse off than what China and India currently has, despite sharing an imbalance of women.


shaldna: Humans are unique in various strange ways. From what I know, we're some of the most vulnerable creatures during pregnancy, out of the lifeforms on Earth. That and our ant-like desire for war and conquest, makes it so that a more even distribution of males and females is useful to us. Not to mention cultural peace-time problems, like men becoming more agitated and violent when there's a high male population.

The culture is some of the main focus. It can, oddly enough, cause very unnecessary problems, when a more logical and biological approach would avoid such.

Xalarik
05-24-2013, 03:42 PM
And example of the opposite of what you're asking here:

Neighbouring Nordic democracies Sweden and Finland share the top spots on the global gender equality charts. Sweden hasn't fought a war for 200 years, whereas Finland has fought one of the bloodiest civil war in Europe, two wars with the Soviet Union, and one war with Germany in the past 100 years. Finland, pop. 3,5 million, lost some 90 000 men between 1939 - 1945, practically the same number as the generation of children born in the 1930s in Finland. The veterans who did make it back were a PTSD-generation and divorce rates skyrocketed, adding to the already large number of single mom sole breadwinners. And yet, the post-war gender equality path, if you will, is very similar in Finland and in Sweden, despite the fact the Swedish men didn't go to war to never come back and leave Swedish women in charge. Incredibly, Sweden still experienced a similar post-war baby boom than Finland and other war-torn countries.

Conclusion: It's probably very complicated. Post-WW II saw a slight rise in male births, attributed to the aggression and the rise of testosterone levels. However, the more recent Balkan wars, apparently, did not. So, war, among other things, may breed more boys, or not.

mirandashell
05-24-2013, 03:43 PM
So what's likely to happen there...? Important jobs come with the unattractive caveat, "don't get married or have children"?


Yeah... cos that's never happened before.


:sarcasm

WriterTrek
05-24-2013, 04:04 PM
I have no idea of how this would work if it actually happened, but figured I'd toss in some thoughts anyway.

What if it's not just a 20-to-1 ratio in one country, but overall? Your entire population has suddenly become primarily female with the unexpected loss of a great many men.

Polygamy might make a return. That's the first thing that came to mind if there was a legit need to repopulate the species.

Probably not what you're going for or thinking of, but yeah.

Mr. Mask
05-24-2013, 07:04 PM
Xalarik: Why must life be so nuanced and interesting? Good point you make, either way.


Miranda: True. The interesting difference would be if the society became matriarchal, you might get systems where important figures were restricted from having children.


WriterTrek: I agree that this as an international disaster becomes, in a way, more interesting. It also helps to prevent easy fixes, like getting men from a neighbouring country.

melindamusil
05-24-2013, 09:06 PM
Random thought... if your women are doing traditionally male-oriented roles, that may have an effect on their ability to carry a pregnancy to term. If a woman is doing an exceedingly physical job (like construction, or perhaps policing, or a factory job) I think that makes her more likely to miscarry, especially early in the pregnancy. She might be more likely to get hit in the abdomen, which can cause placental abruption and can be a threat to both mom and baby's lives. And if the mom manages to carry to full-term, her balance would be all over the place, and she wouldn't be terribly effective in her job.

mirandashell
05-24-2013, 09:09 PM
Miranda: True. The interesting difference would be if the society became matriarchal, you might get systems where important figures were restricted from having children.


Actually, it would be the other way around. In a matriarchal society, there would be systems set up to enable children and careers.

TBH, I think you should write this from the perspective of a very patriarchal society as you seem to have a problem visualising a different way.

Mr. Mask
05-24-2013, 10:15 PM
Melinda: Likely, pregnant women would be kept out of jobs where accidents could occur. Either given leave during certain stages of their pregnancy, or moved to something where they're not likely to get bashed in the gut.

This would be a serious balancing act for whoever was in charge of managing the workforce, depending on how impregnation is handled.


Miranda: For the common working woman, of course. As mentioned in the OP, daycare like systems and other innovations would spring up so that women could more efficiently work. The idea, however, that important figures would risk their lives in childbirth, is a largely patriarchal one in nature. If men risked death by having children... many systems would have planned around this, to make sure a bad year doesn't claim the lives of the people who are keeping the country stable.

Generally, women who gained power weren't given considerations for what would happen if they got pregnant and died, because most people didn't plan for women to be there in the first place. If a proper matriarchal society was formed, it could go very differently from that--specially depending on the values of the society.

Important, key persons might be restricted (not banned, but restricted) from procreation. After all, if the lead general of your army suddenly dies from childbirth, the whole country could be thrown into peril. Adoption would be the method for having children for those figures, to avoid the risks of childbirth. It could, in fact, be seen that having children is something for the lower classes to suffer, depending.

For this society to develop, there are a few important necessities, of course. For one, there needs to be the idea that higher ups serve the people, and that it would be unreasonable to risk their lives having children when that could throw things into turmoil. It would also be helpful if the sex drive was already low within the society, and that bearing children wasn't considered with too much reverence at the time.

But then, that's just one route you could go down. It could easily be a system which follows closely to more standard models seen throughout history--and is in fact likely since survivors are liable to look at past models for examples when rebuilding the system (the number of humans who think up new ideas is pretty low). A thoughtful feminist effort could try to steer away from the patriarchal models known in history, and would either result in a bettered system for matching to a female majority, or could end up a well-meant failure on a large scale (this is the main reason new ideas make people nervous).


I feel that such a story would either need to take place in an unusually balanced society (Finland and Sweden are good possibilities, as was kindly pointed out by Xalarik), or, as Miranda suggested, in one with a strong patriarchy--or in America, because everything interesting in fiction seems to happen there. The balanced society would be interesting, and the patriarchy would present more conflict between the remaining males and the women trying to rebuild things. Of course, if you wanted to switch an extreme patriarchy into a matriarchy... that story might realistically contain a civil war--or at least an anti-government terrorist group forming (alternatively, the patriarchs might take power, and try to impose a tyranny).

mirandashell
05-24-2013, 10:25 PM
Important, key persons might be restricted (not banned, but restricted) from procreation. After all, if the lead general of your army suddenly dies from childbirth, the whole country could be thrown into peril. Adoption would be the method for having children for those figures, to avoid the risks of childbirth. It could, in fact, be seen that having children is something for the lower classes to suffer, depending.

I'm sorry but this bit and the bit after it is pretty much totally rubbish. Men in patriarchal societies risk their lives all the time. So how would that be any different in a matriarchal society?

Sorry, and I mean this to be helpful, but do not write this from any point of view than the very patriarchal because you really can't see the world from any other POV. And if you do try, you are just gonna make a right old mess of it.

No-one is saying you can't write this but you don't show any understanding of feminist issues and trying to pretend you do will just make you look like a chump. So write your own version of GoT and have fun with it.

ClareGreen
05-24-2013, 10:56 PM
Mask, a few points...

If the lead general of your army is of childbearing age and pregnant, you may have more problems than you realise. Same as if the president, or the prime minister, was of childbearing age and pregnant. The dangers of breeding increase past a certain age, but then completely stop being a concern. It may not be even half the problem you think it is - I mean, honestly, how many of the people in charge now are in their 40s?

Other than that - yes, we'd be down a lot of doctors. We'd be down almost half of the people they look after too, though, so that wouldn't be as much of a problem as you might think. We'd have plenty of nurses to go around, though, and nurses are typically highly-trained, highly intelligent people who don't necessarily think that being considered subordinate to doctors in all things is appropriate any more.

(That and depending on what kills off the men, the doctors might be more likely to survive it than most.)

Pregnancy and childbirth are still risky things, but the way you're going on, you'd think modern medicine hadn't cut the risks. We no longer have a third of women dead due to childbirth or attempted childbirth, and the really vulnerable bits of pregnancy are only a few months long for most women. Even then, men and women solve physical problems like moving steel beams around differently; women stop using brute force and start using intelligence and teamwork much earlier in the process than men typically do. Things may take a little longer, but they still would get done.

We'd still have scientists, engineers, researchers and all those wonderful people who keep our world working. We may not have as many of some, but I've met women who've worked in every job once considered 'male', from roadie to armourer to mechanic to photocopier repair - and far, far more with the basic capacity for logical thought and problem-solving who were discouraged from exercising it by one means or another. I think that enough of those who could, would. We've seen it happen before.

Finally, once the business of birth is over, a woman doesn't have to have anything else to do with the process of child-rearing. Wet-nurses and nannies have been around for as long as childbearing women wanted to do something that wasn't tied to a crib. Creches would be one of the first and most obvious things for communities to set up - again, it's happened before.

Finally, not every woman actually wants kids, and not every woman wants or needs a man, or even a part of one. Society might resettle in such a way that those who don't want kids or men don't feel pressured to have them, while being willing to support those who do.

Mr. Mask
05-24-2013, 11:27 PM
Miranda: There's no need to be sorry. While it is true men risk their lives regularly in history, important figures do this as a course of necessity--or greed.

It is good of you to participate in the thread in order to be helpful. I must disagree with your point, but I do find it quite interesting.

Would be nice if I had written Game of Thrones. To be lauded for writing one of the most successful fantasy series, and to make enough money that I could buy a golden jet-ski. These unusual ideas, of trying to form a speculative matriarchal society, or writing about what a sudden drop in male population might do, are not likely to make a lot of money nor fame (and can easily cause controversy whether one wishes to or not). Still, I find the latter quite interesting (not to disparage the quality of the former).


Come to think of it, feminism isn't necessarily the key point in a speculation such as this. There are areas where feminism plays a key role, particularly in a conflict between a patriarchal society and a female majority--but largely, culture and economics would play a far stronger role in how such a society would pan out (some places are near to the point of feudalism, for example).


Clare: You make a good point. Women of the age where they achieve key ranks are likely to have already had children, and aren't likely to have more. If you had a more feudal system, such problems could arise.

You make another good point, that many of the would-be patients would be dead. And of course, as you say, the doctors might survive (particularly if it is a virus that destroyed the male population--they'd know how to prevent its effects better than most, and would go to lengths to prevent contracting it).

It seems I may have been thinking of the risks too strongly, as you say. Almost disappointing, when the idea of rulers restricted from having children is so interesting.
I do not see any problems in the long run with women handling any job. In the short term, just having to fill all the bases suddenly is just a huge problem is general.

Certainly, it is as you say. My example with the doctors was to illustrate that it would take time to train more scientists, engineers and researchers, and that you might suffer in the short term till that was done. Effective systems of teaching would limit this problem, of course.

Indeed.

That is why I think a system where childbearing is seen as a low-class duty might be plausible. That would, of course, require a caste system.

Thank you for your well thought out points, Clare. You have helped me rethink my shortcomings in approaching this idea.

Siri Kirpal
05-24-2013, 11:34 PM
Siri Kirpal: To steady their nerves, perhaps? Or, if it was considered unfeminine to smoke pipes, that seems like a good time to start.

Either way, that's a very nice touch for a story, much like the other one you mentioned.

.

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I'm not sure--and I'm not sure Grandma knew either--but I think the smoking started for several reasons. 1) No men around; we can do what we like. 2) No man to guard us; let's create a smokescreen so any passing marauders will think there's a man on the property. 3) Or something like a widow wearing her husband's old shirts.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Mr. Mask
05-24-2013, 11:38 PM
Sat Nam.

Good points you make. I laughed when I saw the one about the smoke screen, because I couldn't help but imagine smoking a huge, blanketing fog.

I can easily see there being sentimental reasons for doing such, as well.

melindamusil
05-25-2013, 12:14 AM
I feel the need to point out that there HAVE been women in power who gave birth. Classic example: Queen Victoria, who gave birth to five kids while ruling a huge empire.

Of course, today there are still controversies surrounding female leaders with kids. Shouldn't they be staying home to raise their children, etc...

Buffysquirrel
05-25-2013, 12:21 AM
Whereas of course male generals never die in battle, fall off their horses, die of syphilis or drink themselves to death....

There's a reason why there's a chain of command.

Weirdmage
05-25-2013, 12:41 AM
It looks like you want a society that's pretty close to ours when it comes to "tech level". One thing to take into consideration is that most of what is produced today is non-essential. Looking at IT only, you could save a lot if you roll back the tech a decade. Going back to "dumb" phones, and more basic computers would cut the need for a lot of the raw materials used today. And that would mean less people needed not just to get the raw materials, but to make the final product.
Also, localising production of essentials, and in many cases non-essentials, would cut down on the need for transport, freeing up a lot of the workforce for other tasks.

As for how the male/female would develop in a 20 women/1 man society, that is something you could adjust to what kind of story you want to tell. Three scenarios immediatly spring to my mind:
-One: Things stay much the same, but birth rates would fall drastically. In time society will be "leaner", but on a quick overview stay much the same.
-Two/three: Men are given special treatment because they are scarce. I.e. men are either revered as they are needed for fertilization, or they are guarded/kept in camps to be used for breeding. Practically the same thing, but in one version they will gain high status, and in the other be treated as a "resource" that is used. Or to put it more bluntly, if they are revered, they may just walk up to a women and say "come here", and she would be "honoured" to be chosen and hope to get pregnant. If they are treated as a resource to be used, they could be kept in a camp, and just ordered to "go impregnate this woman" (This are similar, but with different outcomes.)
There's of course lots of other possibilities, but again, it really depends on what you want to write about.

Of course, it could be that society is totally changed by this. Something I think could be more likely if it's a permanent situation and not just for one generation. If it's just one generation I'm not sure much would change at all, except women will be able to prove that they are easily capaple of doing everything a man can. (And I have no doubt women already are able to do everything a man can.)

Buffysquirrel
05-25-2013, 12:49 AM
There's also the possibility that the women would pour resources into artificial means of conception. If they developed parthenogenesis, the sex ratio could eventually become 20 women to no men.

Chasing the Horizon
05-25-2013, 01:11 AM
...This brings up an issue, one which may also apply to the OP. Taken in a vacuum, your scenario is a fine example of creativity.

Unfortunately, there's been an ongoing theme in fiction associating female-run societies with dystopias -- specifically, dystopias where the men are treated like slaves. In a way, it's similar to that Save the Pearls book which takes place in a dystopia run by blacks. Perhaps an interesting concept in theory, but the end result can easily be seen as "Look! See how bad the world would be if blacks/women/gays were in charge?". You're using a group currently struggling to not be seen as inferior, and giving your readers a story that says if said group gains power the world will become worse.

I've got a nagging feeling there's a specific term for this problem, but I can't think of it... wish I had a better way to explain it.

Anyway, something to consider.
Yep. This is the exact reason that I haven't tried to write a story about the 'evil' matriarchy I created. Anyone who has read my other work would know that the offensive message is the exact opposite of what I believe and that the rest of my fantasy world is full of cultures that, if anything, send a message of female superiority. Even this one was intended that way--not only are matriarchies better at being good and powerful, but they're better at being evil too, lol. Unfortunately, the story will be interpreted through Earth's prejudices by readers and the message will be changed. I realized that pretty much the moment I finished building the culture, and have had it back-burnered ever since.

I'll also agree with what others are saying that the OP's post don't convey enough understanding of the issues involved to write a matriarchy well. It's really easy to do matriarchies badly--so easy that even someone like me, who is a woman, has spent decades dissecting ways to change gender relations, and writes nothing but matriarchies can still screw it up sometimes.

wendymarlowe
05-25-2013, 09:23 AM
Come to think of it, feminism isn't necessarily the key point in a speculation such as this. There are areas where feminism plays a key role, particularly in a conflict between a patriarchal society and a female majority--but largely, culture and economics would play a far stronger role in how such a society would pan out (some places are near to the point of feudalism, for example).

I disagree - this would be entirely within the realm of feminist theory. Culture and economics are intricately tied to gender roles, as is pretty much everything else in modern society. Feminism isn't daydreaming about a world where women rule everything; it's the idea that women should be treated as equal human beings with equal rights, opportunities, and expectations of abilities. The moment you start saying "the economy would be different [because women are different]," you run afoul of feminism.

That said, there are several ways a creative writer *could* take this idea, depending on what he/she wanted to do with it. You could go dystopian, with one gender being overtly oppressed by the other. Or you could go egalitarian, where gender roles have been largely eliminated. Or you could envision a world where new gender roles have formed. Just please, please don't try to write a "feminist" "matriarchal" book in which women's roles are as strictly defined as they are now - that defeats the whole purpose!

Mr. Mask
05-25-2013, 10:13 AM
Melinda: Oh yes, certainly there have been many women of power who have had children. Through most of our history, this is a necessity--if you don't have heirs, then when you die it can cause many kinds of problems (Alexander gave his Kingdom, "To the strongest" so everyone started killing each other). If Victoria had come from a long line of queens instead of kings... I do believe some aspects of the system would be different.


Buffy: Good example with drinking themself to death. I had expected someone to mention hunting, which seems like a dangerous pass time.

Dying is certainly a general's lot, and the chain of command is there to try and keep things stable inspite of that. When you have a bunch of fool generals, you might actually improve your situation with a few well-timed deaths (sometimes even a fool general is better than none). When you have a good general... they're worth more than gold. That's why many generals are kept out of harm's reach as much as possible. Sometimes it is quite impossible, if you want your soldiers to fight (some societies can function with the general in back, but others need to see their leader up front for the troops to be willing to fight).

Forms of artificial conception would be definitely wise with a low, potentially dying male population. It would probably not be a feasible option for a long time, however. Probably, when it did become possible, it would start out with some serious genetic defects, which wouldn't be healthy to rely on. Given enough time, it might become healthier than the natural way of procreating. Both have interesting possibilities for such a story.


Mage: What you say is undoubtedly a wise choice, for what to do immediately after a massive loss of manpower.

As you say, there are many possibilities for how such a situation could go--providing it is long-term.


CtH: You are likely correct. I do not have as much experience as you at this, so if you are having trouble it should be much more trouble for myself. A speculation such as this, using the real world, is not the easiest example to use, either.

Partially, I'm very interested in the unusual directions events might take this to, rather than doing a proper speculation of what is likely. Largely, it'd probably end up as the previous political system with much more consideration for female workers. You'd get some added interest of how men were treated, assuming they didn't end up taking a nobility style of role. Slanting things for good or bad isn't really something I'm interested in either. I'm more interested in how the economics and culture would develop.

If I may ask, what are some of your insights, after studying and thinking about this subject for so long? I do not think I am likely to write such a book as this, but I remain curious of the subject.


Marlowe: I am sorry if I have upset you. This was not the intention of this thread or my post.

I do not believe the economy would change because women are different, however. Women are, occupationally, very similar to men. The main economic worry is the sudden loss of workpower and the shock of the new situation. The reason it is important to understand economics, though this may be a brief time in the society's new history, is economics can have a large effect on politics and culture.

It's true that gender roles do play a big part of the current economy... but, they would quickly be abandoned under such extreme circumstances. A smaller drop in the male population would be better for a focus on how gender roles were a conflict of the story, where there is room for stubbornness.

Of course, even with such a large drop in male population, feminism could be the main focus of the story, if the focus was on the conflict between women and the remaining men. If the men were trying to usurp power as a social elite, or be branded as superior, or being oppressed as a minority, or several groups having all happen at once. That could be a very interesting story, trying to keep gender equality, and not have it that men are a worshipped elite nor an oppressed minority.

I'm sorry for causing you concern.

Xalarik
05-25-2013, 11:54 AM
Are you familiar with the Mosuo people and their "walking marriages", "fatherless" society and extended families as a real life example of a matriarchal society?

The Mosuo have a normal gender ratio, but I could envision their kind of society in your scenario. A harem of women with a twist: men are a minority and the women choose and have the (democratic) power, no sharing of property, and the kids will be raised in their mothers' family. Men can have many lovers without worries of alimonies and fewer women will be left behind, ensuring good birth rates -- at least in theory. Of course, it would be an interesting scenario if the majority of the women were like their 21st century OECD sisters, postponing or bypassing pregnancies and focusing on their careers.

In other words, instead of the assumption that women want to breed by any means, and men are either sacred or kept as studs, and artificial conception is the new botox, what if it's still a democracy and a gender equal society, there's a lot of recreational sex but no babies, and women are focused on their careers and politics and running the society now that they can?

What could a tiny minority do to persuade the large majority to get pregnant and have more babies?

Countries like Sweden and Finland with a high ratio of women in power have very pro-family and consequently also pro-women policies: daycare options, paid parental leaves, family allowances, enabling women to have babies and keep careers. But what if the same women in power are still not having babies? They would be unlikely to pass any legislation that could be seen as forcing women to have more babies, and the minority, in a democracy, remains powerless. As in: everyone agrees that more babies are needed, but few are interested in doing something about it personally.

Buffysquirrel
05-25-2013, 03:44 PM
That's why many generals are kept out of harm's reach as much as possible.

They are now, in Western society, but it wasn't always that way. In fact the history of warfare is one of increasing remoteness from the action. A soldier operating a drone from a different country would be the object of contempt to ancient warriors.

Mr. Mask
05-25-2013, 07:01 PM
Xalarik: Also, since it exists and can be proven to be effective, any knowledgeable society is likely to use it as a basis when restructuring. You'd probably get an interesting mesh of past cultural habits and that culture, or other examples of matriarchal society. That's part of what's great about speculating on interesting subjects--you end up going back to the real world and finding ideas very similar to your own, to answer speculative problems.

My assumption wasn't that there'd be a strong desire to procreate, so what you suggest could easily work as a model I would run with if I wrote such a book.

Certainly, that would be the more interesting route. Playing the men as a minority--but not one under the thumb of some kind of nazi dictatorship (it is possible to be unfair without being evil).

If the desire to have children got dangerously low, the government would likely start handing out more benefits to women with children.


Buffy: If a general tried to sit in safety using drones... his power would be usurped pretty quickly in many societies, as you imagine. Of course, for general use, ancient warriors would probably find drones totally awesome, and quite likely give them religious significance as they were used to gain supremacy of the area. That is a pretty fun idea for a book, actually.



Just by the way... if anyone wants to use any of these ideas for a book of their own, they are welcome to. I'd be interested to see a story like this made, but don't feel it has to be made by myself.

wendymarlowe
05-26-2013, 06:19 AM
Oh, no offense taken! The idea of a "feminist" dystopian society is sadly overdone, however, by people wanting to make a political or social point and who don't actually think through the logic of their worldbuilding - that's the point I was trying to make.

shaldna
05-26-2013, 10:08 AM
Countries like Sweden and Finland with a high ratio of women in power have very pro-family and consequently also pro-women policies: daycare options, paid parental leaves, family allowances, enabling women to have babies and keep careers.

Should be noted that both countries have a rather low birth rate per family - Finland at 1.8 and Sweden at 1.1. Half the rate of the UK and other countries.

cornflake
05-26-2013, 10:21 AM
Should be noted that both countries have a rather low birth rate per family - Finland at 1.8 and Sweden at 1.1. Half the rate of the UK and other countries.

I believe Finland's is the same as the U.S.' and I cannot believe the UK's is double that or even close, honestly, even with immigration. I'm going to go look.

Ok, according to the CIA (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2054rank.html), the UK's rate per cap (12.26/1000) is lower than the U.S.' (13.66/1000), though both are higher than Finland's (10.36/1000) or Sweden (10.33). If we go per person, as the stats above, I have the U.S. at 1.89 and the U.K at 1.98, Finland at 1.83 and Sweden at 1.90.

I don't at all understand the argument for no children because generals or whatever might die in childbirth. First, in a modern society that's rare. Second, as pointed out, generals and etc., might die doing lots of things that have a higher statistical fatality rate by far - like, for instance, driving their cars.

Again this seems like it's coming from a very patriarchal viewpoint. If men do these things while having children, what in the world is the difference?

BunnyMaz
05-26-2013, 03:08 PM
Just because there's some information in this that might inspire further research.

http://www.sfwa.org/2013/05/guest-post-we-have-always-fought-challenging-the-women-cattle-and-slaves-narrative/

...Which also links to this excellent article full of links to information

http://fozmeadows.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/psa-your-default-narrative-settings-are-not-apolitical/

TheBladeRoden
05-27-2013, 11:18 PM
Makes me wonder how the Gerudo race from Zelda sustains itself, being all female with one male born every hundred years.

That one guy would have to spend his whole life making all the babies in the land until he was 100, with all the medieval viagra they can muster. Only then is his first son born and he can finally die.

There is also the rumor of Gerudo picking up Hylian boyfriends, but then of course you have the problem of diluting their genes.

Marian Perera
05-28-2013, 03:37 AM
Unfortunately, there's been an ongoing theme in fiction associating female-run societies with dystopias -- specifically, dystopias where the men are treated like slaves.

Only too true. I remember reading one of Anne Bishop's Black Jewels novels because those took place in a society where women ruled and men served. The slutty villainess of the story was eeeevil, so the men were slaves. But the virginal heroine believed in liberty and justice for all.

Buffysquirrel
05-28-2013, 04:51 AM
Le Guin wrote a story in her Hainish series that has a society with a high ration of women to men. I think it's The Matter of Seggrei (although the spelling may be wrong as the book is 224 miles away as usual). Very sad and interesting story.