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Vaalingrade said:
men would still have some power in reproductive politics because they could sire higher quality witches.
:D
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
In an oppressive societal structure, rule one is that you never give the oppressed easy access to power. The idea that this matriarchy would equip men with weapons (advanced, magical weapons on top of it) is absurd on its face if, in fact, the goal is to keep men oppressed. This is dictatorship 101: take the weapons AWAY from those you want to oppress.
Oppressive regimes have equipped and fielded conscript armies of peasants and the lower classes through all of history. What's important is maintaining control of that army, whether through direct fear like the Soviets did with their Commissar units which shot anyone trying to retreat or desert, or the more indirect fear of the common soldiers knowing that their village/city would be burned and their wives and children sold into slavery if the other side won. Fight or die. Fight for your motherland. Fight for your families... If you want to use this army to oppress your own citizens, you instill an "us vs. them" mentality in the troops which encourages them to look down on anyone not in the army while playing up the "Band of Brothers" solidarity with their comrades in arms. If you're really smart you play different groups of your soldiers off against each other the same way, so it is harder for them to unite in an attempt to overthrow you. Encourage rivalries between the various regiments, army against navy, Praetorians vs the regular legions, and so on.
 
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KelliWolfe said:
Oppressive regimes have equipped and fielded conscript armies of peasants and the lower classes through all of history. What's important is maintaining control of that army, whether through direct fear like the Soviets did with their Commissar units which shot anyone trying to retreat or desert, or the more indirect fear of the common soldiers knowing that their village/city would be burned and their wives and children sold into slavery if the other side won.
This is basically the root threat that has been used by oppressive regimes. This threat, however, is completely nonsensical in the OP's social structure, because the women are in control in the first place. Nor does it sound like there is some powerful external threat to force them to comply. Most of the fighting seems to be internal.

Again, it all goes back to the WHY. There has to be a cultural reason for this societal set-up beyond the thought experiment, or the reader is going to see through it as an obvious thought experiment.

We forget that at the root, all cultures develop as a means of preserving the society. They may become corrupted at their apex (and thus they start to decline) but those roots start way back with HOW the society was structured to protect the next generation.

My original Neiyar campaign was actually based on a real-world example. An ancient sub-culture in India that were mercenaries. The men were all sellswords who went off and died in other people's wars. The society developed into a matriarchy to protect the next generation. Women controlled the property and made all decisions, because you never knew if or when the men would be home. Women had multiple husbands, their "first" husband who was extended all the privileges of that station, and her "visiting" husbands. Visiting husbands lived in their mother's home, not with their wife. If the First Husband was home, the wife didn't receive visiting husbands. But if he was gone, then a visiting husband could...um...stop over. :eek: And he would leave his armor on the front step to let any other visiting husband know there was already someone there.

It sounds weird, but it worked for generations and served its purpose. It broke down when the need for sellswords died off and the men started staying home instead of going off any dying regularly. But the point is, the OP needs to have a strong explanation for the WHY of this culture to justify it and make it believable. Even if it is never completely explained in the books, HE needs to know it so he can maintain internal consistency with the story.
 

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I see the covens stomping on women just as hard as men. That's power for you. The winners win and the losers, well, lose. Think Heathers with magic. Just as there are were women who were big gay rights activists, and men who supported voting right of women, there's going to be men who support women without magic, and women who think that men should get treated better. There will be strange alliances, and in that, there's a good story. Find the points of contention and parking your truck there.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
As I said, the fundamental issue with this thought experiment is not understanding the root reasons for the oppression of women in most cultures in the first place. Without the basic foundation on the WHY of this cultural issue, it is difficult to address it appropriately in fiction. You can't just flip the roles and expect it to work, because flipping the rules ignores the reasons for the beliefs.
At the heart of that conflict are resources and inheritance. The [alleged] step from primordial matriarchy to patriarchy occurred when people understood paternity and became settled enough to trade possession of immovables. Other scientists hold that such a version of matriarchy never existed on any wholescale level. That's the most recent understanding of anthropological research as far as I know, right along with polygamy being considered these days to having been a stoneage status quo so to speak.

it is the same reason why those well-meaning but generally useless social experiments like "make one group wear green shirts and everyone be mean to them" don't work. Because they are based on the assumption that racism is actually about skin-color only, but the fear of otherness goes beyond mere skin color and without examining those root issues cosmetic experiments don't achieve any real goal.
Ron Jones' experiment would give different pointers. It's all in the set up and definitions. I do agree with your general take of the premise described in the first post.

At least two factors which need to be examined are overabundance and concrete [physical] power. Anything which exists in abundance is devalued, anything which is rare gets valued. A society with an overabundance of men and male resources and few women and female resources is much more likely to show a power slide favouring women. However, only if at the same time women have material, physical and mental power over men in some form. If the usual gender dimorphism between men and women has to be maintained, then some other form of power has to replace muscle.

There is no proof that a matriarchy or women per se would prove to rule more peacefully. Female aggression is just different, not non-existant, and research has shown that female rulers went to war more often than male ones, statistically.
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
This is basically the root threat that has been used by oppressive regimes. This threat, however, is completely nonsensical in the OP's social structure, because the women are in control in the first place. Nor does it sound like there is some powerful external threat to force them to comply. Most of the fighting seems to be internal.

Again, it all goes back to the WHY. There has to be a cultural reason for this societal set-up beyond the thought experiment, or the reader is going to see through it as an obvious thought experiment.

We forget that at the root, all cultures develop as a means of preserving the society. They may become corrupted at their apex (and thus they start to decline) but those roots start way back with HOW the society was structured to protect the next generation.
This is why CJ Cherryh will always be one of my favorite SF/fantasy authors. She is one of the few writers I've found who truly gets this and it's why her alien/futuristic and fantasy cultures are so convincing.
 

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Interesting world you've created, OP. Men outside of covens being thought of as 'feral' parallels women outside of a family structure/male control being thought of as 'whores' (in very patriarchal societies). It's true that reverses have been done before, but I imagine there are readers who like reading them and also readers who haven't read one before. I personally haven't read one.

Where I see a non-parallel is a group of men being allowed to develop magictech. Because I'd imagine women in that society wanting to take control of it and make it their own. (Parallels in real history being male doctors taking over the traditional work of midwives (taking control of childbirth) and guilds taking over women's production of ale (ale production having originally been a female venture).
I'd see men in your society as only being allowed to do the grunt work and without the access to higher learning that would allow them the knowledge to develop better ways of making enchanted objects (the parallel in history being women not allowed to attend colleges or join most guilds)

In your society, women strictly control men's sexuality, the women with the highest powers being able to keep the best men (with the best magic genes) to reproduce with. In a true parallel, the only way men could start to find equality is if they found a way of restricting women's access to their reproductive abilities. (Like today's contraception for women)

Of course, you don't have to use parallels like these - it's your own story! And I understand why you want to develop it in the magictech direction.

From my perspective, I'd just have trouble accepting that men in a society in which they were oppressed would be allowed to develop magictech to a high level - because women, with their historical dominance and superior access to higher learning, would swoop in and take over and develop it themselves. Unless you had men have some specific tech ability that women didn't possess?? (Some magical thing)
 

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Douglas Milewski said:
I see the covens stomping on women just as hard as men. That's power for you. The winners win and the losers, well, lose. Think Heathers with magic. Just as there are were women who were big gay rights activists, and men who supported voting right of women, there's going to be men who support women without magic, and women who think that men should get treated better. There will be strange alliances, and in that, there's a good story. Find the points of contention and parking your truck there.
Some actual Wiccan groups do not allow trans women to participate in their ceremonies because the birth anatomy doesn't fit with their interpretation of the religious traditions. That's a whole other can of worms right there.
 

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Blerg et al. said:
Some actual Wiccan groups do not allow trans women to participate in their ceremonies because the birth anatomy doesn't fit with their interpretation of the religious traditions. That's a whole other can of worms right there.
Back when I was following the various paths more closely, I'd head something like that. It tends to not be anti-transgender, but just how people are viewed as having chosen the bodies they are in, and therefore their magical center would be different if they didn't go by their physical bodies. Most sites I hung around weren't like that, but some were. Some traditions don't allow men to perform the rituals, either, but it's not like they're anti-men, it's just how they see the goddess in women. There are more male-centric paths, too.

I think the whole point of what we're saying here is, have reasons why things happen, why anything. Don't just plop something down and have it not be anchored at all in the reality of how humans behave. Unless you can provide a very convincing reason. My opinion is, if you can sell it to the readers, go for it. But realize it's often a hard sale.
 

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As someone who has experimented with females in power, and seen others do it, I can offer one piece of advice:

Thought experiments like this are interesting because they're taking the world as we know it and turning it on it's head, often deconstructing reality to form a "what if" alternate reality. Plausible or not, this can (and invariably does) lead to the material being labeled "controversial." Role-reversal and non-patriarchal things are big right now, so there's a good chance that this idea could succeed if done well. But I can smell a Dietland-style controversy in the making here, even if it succeeds, if only because it would be seen as breaking the norm, and people of all genders might not appreciate such a deviation.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do it. I think you should, if only to (hopefully) help people realize that any gender-based "archy" system is garbage and that all genders are best when they work together. But if you do choose to pursue this, expect people to dislike it for the same reasons other love it. Treat it like a roller coaster: hold on for dear life, and hope you don't drop your keys.
 

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Colleagues, The preceding comments have been thought-provoking, but, in my opinion, miss the point.

The best science fiction and fantasy books are allegories of their times. The allegory, in this case, would seem to be the acquisition of power and not the use of existing power. The conflict, like in today's American society, is that the men feel that they have lost the power they once had. A story examining the static conflict between the haves and have-nots is not as interesting as the conflict between those who perceive they are losing ground against those who are gaining it. I suspect that what you really want to write is an allegory for today's America where men fear that they are losing dominance. By couching the new-found power as magic, you have deprived the people acquiring their power of legitimacy. I challenge you to re-think your motives for writing this story.

Bob Cherny
 
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