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Cults and Gender

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5 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

We might be past it (with major reservations, there are plenty of people I know who still think that way), but Orlanthi society isn't. I don't want all fantasy societies to be postmodern liberal progressive utopias.

It's the interfaces that are where the interesting shit happens - in chemistry, biology, and even in cultures.  There are going to be cultures that are 'men-have-all-the-rights-and-women-have-none' (I was going to say 'hidebound traditionalists' but that would be pejorative and frankly unfair), there are obviously cultures where women have the same unquestioned dominance.  There are going to be slaveholding societies and societies that react to slavery with revulsion.  There are going to be societies that react against homosexuality with hatred, and others that embrace all sorts of relationship options formally.  The seams where these norms intersect (and overlap) seethe with scenario hooks and complications.  

Take some bog standard, rather dull scenario -  some cows were stolen, hunt down the thieves and bring them back.  Now 'juice' it with the complication that it's actually a small band of women escaped from servitude trying to survive in hiding in 'grey lands' between clans.  Maybe your clan doesn't like slavery, but is honor bound with nearby tribes to return these slaves to their owners.  MUCH more interesting, to me.  The sort of adventure that might stick in the minds of the players for a while.

What I'd like to see is ALL of these cultural choices addressed respectfully and thoroughly and objectively as possible.  I *really* don't want to see certain dogmas picked as 'winners' to be celebrated and others as 'losers' to be shamed.  Glorantha is a world writ of pure moral relativism in its very bones; it'd be hypocritical to only-sort-of embrace it based on our own cultural blinders.

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

... a bit Dumbledore-y.  (For those who don't get the reference, it's where JK Rowling said "oh, of course Dumbledore is gay" without once alluding to it in 7 books or 1.08 million words of prose)?

I can agree with some of criticisms of Rowling's late-in-the-game revisionism & trying to insert "woke" and "edgy" elements...  But this one in particular I disagree with.  The whole Dumbledore/Grindelwald romance was implied (I admit, gently implied; but implied nonetheless) and Rowling confirmed it before the series had ended; the topic has re-surfaced in light of some of her other revisions since...

But really, the books began as a youth/preteen series, evolving into YA (as characters and audience aged)... I don't think we want the early end of her spectrum to see much about the love-lives of ANY characters!  "Gently implied" is plenty for that series!

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10 minutes ago, Ladygolem said:

Anyway what surprises me is, despite the supposed existence of six genders and accepted homosexuality is that none of these things get mentioned outside of the little blurb at the beginning of the book. Going from real world examples, you'd expect to see more cults and cultures with codified roles for gender-variant people, at the very least some eunuch-only priesthoods, things like that; as well as actual named characters in same-gender relationships mentioned in the text. But.... well, "surprising" is the maybe the wrong word. Disappointing and expected, perhaps.

I disagree. While there are gender- or even sex-fluid cults like Heler, the big normal for e.g. sexual orientation is that you find it all in the standard leadership figures (like Orlanth, and in a presumed "patriarchal and possibly prude" Malkioni monotheism.

 

10 minutes ago, Ladygolem said:

But hey, YGMV; if you want to base your Bronze Age on the self-censored writings of squeamish Victorian archaeologists (who'd regularly destroy/leave out artifacts they deemed "immoral" from their reports), well, nobody's stopping you.

That's why we now have a sex-positive Ernalda and the importance sex in religious rites (where marriage vows are suspended). I could understand protests against the Ernalda Allmother cults of Thunder Rebels, but the current role for the Ernalda priestess is fairly close to sales in brown bags.

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3 hours ago, styopa said:

It's the interfaces that are where the interesting shit happens - in chemistry, biology, and even in cultures.  There are going to be cultures that are 'men-have-all-the-rights-and-women-have-none' (I was going to say 'hidebound traditionalists' but that would be pejorative and frankly unfair), there are obviously cultures where women have the same unquestioned dominance.  There are going to be slaveholding societies and societies that react to slavery with revulsion.

Why would these exist? On some kind of 'fairness' grounds? Now, Glorantha does have these, but the real world didn't. There were no matriarchies in antiquity (or ever, really), and as far as I know, no society that had a problem with slavery.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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5 hours ago, Ladygolem said:

Anyway what surprises me is, despite the supposed existence of six genders and accepted homosexuality is that none of these things get mentioned outside of the little blurb at the beginning of the book. Going from real world examples, you'd expect to see more cults and cultures with codified roles for gender-variant people, at the very least some eunuch-only priesthoods, things like that; as well as actual named characters in same-gender relationships mentioned in the text. But.... well, "surprising" is the maybe the wrong word. Disappointing and expected, perhaps.

I hear you. For what it's worth, the king and warlord of Loskalm are officially "complicated" now so it gets better as we learn more about who these people really are behind their stat blocks. And YGMV: I've been known to argue that Hrestol and his good chum Faralz blurred the platonic line while for most real-world purposes IMG Gringle and Quackjohn of Apple Lane are functionally married, which might break representational ground in multiple directions at once. There are endless others. When our friend Gunda broke the queen's back I always assumed it was in bed. As for eunuch-only priesthoods, Maran Gor has that and who knows what the zzaburists get up to?

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

Why would these exist? On some kind of 'fairness' grounds? Now, Glorantha does have these, but the real world didn't. There were no matriarchies in antiquity (or ever, really), and as far as I know, no society that had a problem with slavery.

On interesting dramatic grounds, if for no other reason.   It's a fantasy world, one can be creative.

I'd dispute the 'no matriarchies ever'.  Sure, if all you're looking for is a black/white feminized inversion of the Handmaid's Tale, no, you probably won't find it.  Realities of child bearing and sexual dimorphism (which is quite vehemently disputed as even existing in Glorantha in these very boards:

) make that prima facie pretty unlikely.  BUT, I'd assert, even in our dimorphic real world there are ample examples of systems (maybe at scales different from 'kingdoms' but instead clans, families, etc) where women make/made most of the important decisions alone or collectively, or exert control over those decisions to a degree that one would be hard-pressed to say isn't functionally matriarchy.  Women don't tend to rule by force, but by persuasion, insight, manipulation, and intellect; why would their systems of government copy the relatively clumsy, unsubtle 'do what I want or I hit you on head' male examples?

Re slavery: Our society today pretty seriously has a problem with slavery, no?  At least to classical models of it; variations where they sew Nike tennis shoes are more tolerated. 

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38 minutes ago, styopa said:

Re slavery: Our society today pretty seriously has a problem with slavery, no?  At least to classical models of it; variations where they sew Nike tennis shoes are more tolerated. 

Our society isn't "in antiquity".

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3 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

Our society isn't "in antiquity".

So ?

I mean, I don't disagree at all with the assertion that slavery was basically universal in the ancient world. But again my reply would be...so? 

 

Edit: and if we're splitting hairs, he referred to matriarchies in antiquity, not so much slavery. 

Edited by styopa

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7 hours ago, scott-martin said:

When our friend Gunda broke the queen's back I always assumed it was in bed.

I think that has always been implied. 

10 hours ago, Joerg said:

a presumed "patriarchal and possibly prude" Malkioni monotheism

Only some sects of the Malkioni are patriarchal. The Loskalmi try very hard not to be, for example. 

And IMO almost none of them are prudish. Even the Rokari, or Brithini, the most conservative sects in most ways, are not prudish. I think this was a hold over assumption from the RQ3 era material showing the Rokari as analogous to medieval Christians, but even then they were never stated to be very prudish, it was just kind of assumed. The Rokari are sensuous, often scantily clad, and philosophically approve of pleasure in life. 

This is particularly notable with some of the art commissioned, with nobles watching near naked women dance and so on. The Loskalmi tend towards a bit more high-minded, but still depict nudity (they are big into the perfection of the body, I think their culture includes a lot of nude exercise), their day to day clothing is a bit more conservative looking, but I think that has more to do with it being quite cold up there. 

Edited by davecake
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8 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Why would these exist?

Well, because it's fiction.

But in terms of Glorantha, some of these things actually do exist in game: I discussed this in another thread, actually! Rufelza (the embodied Red Goddess) hated slavery. Teelo Norri was a 13yo slave who turned into the goddess embodied as Teelo Estara and She banned slavery immediately and set up poor houses and orphanaria (damn you, Futurama, for that excellent word). Her life experience informed her identity as a god.

The Dara Happan Empire was still separate at the time and thus subsequently it had its own series of slave bans; the First Prohibition is how Valare, known as the Addi, the author of the Entekosiad, was discovered. She had run away to the Lunar territory because she was due to be sold into slavery eventually and the announcement of the banning of slavery led to rioting.

Once Teelo Estara proved Herself subject to the Great Compromise and thus divine, She ascended as the Red Goddess. Her followers then could do whatever they wanted, particularly after the Red Emperor had his soul shredded and was compromised by the very noble houses he used to control.

Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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7 hours ago, styopa said:

So ?

I mean, I don't disagree at all with the assertion that slavery was basically universal in the ancient world. But again my reply would be...so? 

So when people play fantasy games, they expect that there will be strong parallels to real world societies that have or had similar levels of development. The ways in which a setting diverges from these assumptions are what make it distinctive, but if it's different in too many ways then it will be hard to get into.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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12 hours ago, styopa said:

Realities of child bearing and sexual dimorphism (which is quite vehemently disputed as even existing in Glorantha in these very boards

Oh, come on! That's obviously not a denial of physical reality - no-one in their right mind would argue that Gloranthan men don't typically have greater upper-body strength than Gloranthan women - but in what the game choses (wisely, I think) to model.

Quote

BUT, I'd assert, even in our dimorphic real world there are ample examples of systems (maybe at scales different from 'kingdoms' but instead clans, families, etc) where women make/made most of the important decisions alone or collectively, or exert control over those decisions to a degree that one would be hard-pressed to say isn't functionally matriarchy.

Name two such matriarchal societies (I'm saying two because there is one that you could maybe, maybe, get away with). 

I'm serious - a lot of people believe what you're saying here, but the facts just aren't there. They confuse matrilinearity with matriarchy, or a whole slew of other errors of thought.

Quote

and if we're splitting hairs, he referred to matriarchies in antiquity, not so much slavery. 

It should be obvious from my phrasing that I refer to both in antiquity.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Name two such matriarchal societies (I'm saying two because there is one that you could maybe, maybe, get away with). 

A quick search gives numerous examples... Hopi, Iroquois, Nair, Garo,, Nakhi.... 

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2 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

A quick search gives numerous examples... Hopi, Iroquois, Nair, Garo,, Nakhi.... 

Those are matrilineal societies rather than matriarchal.   

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11 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

A quick search gives numerous examples... Hopi, Iroquois, Nair, Garo,, Nakhi.... 

I believe you're confusing matrilinearity with matriarchy, just as I warned about.

Wikipedia: "Most anthropologists hold that there are no known societies that are unambiguously matriarchal."

Of course, this is not the case in Glorantha.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I believe you're confusing matrilinearity with matriarchy, just as I warned about.

Wikipedia: "Most anthropologists hold that there are no known societies that are unambiguously matriarchal."

Of course, this is not the case in Glorantha.

True, Glorantha has the Uz. Other than that, Esrolia comes close. Other places have hereditary female rulers (like e. Galin) but aren't really matriarchies.

 

10 hours ago, davecake said:

 

Only some sects of the Malkioni are patriarchal.

From its original concept, Malkioni society is patriarchal - Malkion the founder has various wives from whom the leaders of the tribes and castes are descended. The names of the mothers are mostly forgotten, except for Malkion's mother Warera.

Other known female Malkioni include his daughter Menena, Hrestol's mother Xemela and sister Fenela, and the most astounding Lady Gwelenor who obtained one of the islands of Kanthor's Forest back for human habitation. We have the name of Guilmarn's primary wife, and the Seshnegi King List offers an occasional outstanding female, but other than in the Serpent King dynasty dying out, there isn't a single female ruler of Seshnela.

I cannot name any Malkioni sorceress.

10 hours ago, davecake said:

The Loskalmi try very hard not to be, for example. 

The Loskalmi give females access to their meritocratic caste system, true. None of the leaders is female, though - it's a lot like our modern "parity" when it comes to boards of corporations. There are no rules against females in such a position, but there is hardly any female found in such a position.

10 hours ago, davecake said:

And IMO almost none of them are prudish. Even the Rokari, or Brithini, the most conservative sects in most ways, are not prudish.

The Rokari (at least the Talar caste) are quite indulgent sexually, and their only moral concern appears to be to keep it inside the caste. Rokari Zzaburi sexuality is denied (making them more Roman Catholic than all the de-chivalrizing has removed), Horali are required to be fairly fertile, and Dronari peasants and workers do as peasants and workers do everywhere.

Brithini don't indulge much in reproductive sex, unless ordered to do so. They wear costumes adapted to the cold northwestern climate of Old Brithos, and keep performing tasks that they had there in Godtime.

10 hours ago, davecake said:

I think this was a hold over assumption from the RQ3 era material showing the Rokari as analogous to medieval Christians, but even then they were never stated to be very prudish, it was just kind of assumed. The Rokari are sensuous, often scantily clad, and philosophically approve of pleasure in life. 

The Zzaburi of the Rokari apparently draw magical strength from not indulging, and the Dronari would be restricted to simple pleasures. No idea what pleasures are offered to the Horali, especially the females of that caste.

 

10 hours ago, davecake said:

This is particularly notable with some of the art commissioned, with nobles watching near naked women dance and so on.

Talar caste women. Woe to them if they were to desire women of the wrong caste. And woe to the Dronari men or women who would dare to bare her torso to exalted nobles...

There is no mention of public baths, or whether those have caste-restrictions for certain areas or practices.

 

10 hours ago, davecake said:

The Loskalmi tend towards a bit more high-minded, but still depict nudity (they are big into the perfection of the body, I think their culture includes a lot of nude exercise), their day to day clothing is a bit more conservative looking, but I think that has more to do with it being quite cold up there. 

They certainly live in a region and climate where saunas would be natural. (With natural undress inside the sauna, unlike certain terrestrial countries' customs wearing bathing textiles other than a towel...)

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28 minutes ago, Joerg said:

True, Glorantha has the Uz. Other than that, Esrolia comes close. Other places have hereditary female rulers (like e. Galin) but aren't really matriarchies.

Also, it's technically true (the best kind of true!) that the Amazons run a matriarchy.

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3 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I believe you're confusing matrilinearity with matriarchy, just as I warned about.

Wikipedia: "Most anthropologists hold that there are no known societies that are unambiguously matriarchal."

Of course, this is not the case in Glorantha.

I think nakhi/nashi/naxi and bonobo are close enough.

Add to this all the mythic matriarchal societies. I advocate we, Glorantha explorers, know very well you cannot unambiguously separate myth from reality 😉

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46 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Talar caste women. Woe to them if they were to desire women of the wrong caste. And woe to the Dronari men or women who would dare to bare her torso to exalted nobles...

This probably gets too complicated for the RuneQuest forum but I suspect that the suppression of the menenas as co-equal caste prompted the dudes to allocate the female role across all the caste daughters, with talars as "princesses" or objects of dynastic desire while peasants and others default to "earth witch" within the Serpent King system. Of course a princess could become a witch too, although I'm not convinced they had (or cared about) sorcery . . . warrior women and sorcerer women never seem to get a lot of traction, forcing their dudes to marry outside. 

There is evidence that at least sometimes a woman with no living male relatives could take over a talar title but this might be an aberration of the wild and crazy Damolstens and she was a badass besides, probably a man-of-all as it were. (Hrestol's gospel to the menenas is unrecorded.)

Betria / Bertia is intriguing in her absence . . . the page that would ordinarily describe her rule is tantalizingly blank as though the details have been expunged. Even more tantalizing, Greg seems to waver on whether this figure was a woman or a man, reigning as queen or king. S/he might have been magically unusual or simply adopted masculine regalia to mollify reactionaries. Then you get Anilla (Betria's daughter in variant sources and not her sister as is now commonly believed) as full-blown Serpent Queen and after her, the reactionaries would rather end a dynasty than let a woman rule. If I were doing Betria's story she'd be the Akhenaten of Seshnela, transcendentally transgressive and loaded to the gills with prophecy. 

The quest of putting menena back together probably works something like remembering the moon goddess to herself, reuniting all the lost portions. Somewhere in the Hero Wars there are probably witches and allies working on this even as we speak. 

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7 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Name two such matriarchal societies (I'm saying two because there is one that you could maybe, maybe, get away with). 

So if I understand what you're saying, it's "we can't imagine any matriarchies in Glorantha because none exist* on earth historically"?

I don't want to put words in your mouth, just want to make sure I understand your assertion clearly.

*to your definition.  You seem to have disregarded my entire point that matriarchy may be exercised in a form that isn't just "Queens instead of Kings".   

First, the entire definition of "what is a matriarchy?" is pretty hotly debated: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchy  Was Imperial Russia under Catharine the Great a matriarchy?  Or Austria under Maria Theresa?  Both women held - insofar as their countries recognized such - absolute power.

And in response to Shiningbrow's comment about the Hopi, for example:

5 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I believe you're confusing matrilinearity with matriarchy, just as I warned about.

Wikipedia: "Most anthropologists hold that there are no known societies that are unambiguously matriarchal."

Of course, this is not the case in Glorantha.

You do understand that one sentence in wiki isn't authoritative, right?  To be clear, wiki doesn't make me one either, but this (for the Hopi) sounds like a matriarchy by ANY definition:

Quote

The Hopi (in what is now the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona), according to Alice Schlegel, had as its "gender ideology ... one of female superiority, and it operated within a social actuality of sexual equality."[86] According to LeBow (based on Schlegel's work), in the Hopi, "gender roles ... are egalitarian .... [and] [n]either sex is inferior."[87][k] LeBow concluded that Hopi women "participate fully in ... political decision-making."[88][l] According to Schlegel, "the Hopi no longer live as they are described here"[89] and "the attitude of female superiority is fading".[89] Schlegel said the Hopi "were and still are matrilinial"[90] and "the household ... was matrilocal".[90] Schlegel explains why there was female superiority as that the Hopi believed in "life as the highest good ... [with] the female principle ... activated in women and in Mother Earth ... as its source"[91] and that the Hopi "were not in a state of continual war with equally matched neighbors"[92] and "had no standing army"[92] so that "the Hopi lacked the spur to masculine superiority"[92] and, within that, as that women were central to institutions of clan and household and predominated "within the economic and social systems (in contrast to male predominance within the political and ceremonial systems)",[92] the Clan Mother, for example, being empowered to overturn land distribution by men if she felt it was unfair,[91] since there was no "countervailing ... strongly centralized, male-centered political structure".[91]

Not to mention our own, personal matriarchies:

Marriage Memes (32 pics)

Edited by styopa
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42 minutes ago, styopa said:

So if I understand what you're saying, it's "we can't imagine any matriarchies in Glorantha because none exist* on earth historically"?

I don't want to put words in your mouth, just want to make sure I understand your assertion clearly.

Obviously not - didn't I mention how we clearly have them in Glorantha? What I was reacting to was the idea that they somehow have to exist, in light of how matriarchies are basically non-existent in our world.  

Quote

First, the entire definition of "what is a matriarchy?" is pretty hotly debated: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matriarchy  Was Imperial Russia under Catharine the Great a matriarchy?  Or Austria under Maria Theresa?  Both women held - insofar as their countries recognized such - absolute power.

Again, obviously not (I can't say I think you're arguing in good faith here, putting up such straw men). What if would take would be for women to systematically and definitively dominate the society politically and economically, something which clearly wasn't the case.

Quote

And in response to Shiningbrow's comment about the Hopi, for example:

You do understand that one sentence in wiki isn't authoritative, right?  To be clear, wiki doesn't make me one either, but this (for the Hopi) sounds like a matriarchy by ANY definition:

What source is? It is, however, the strongest encyclopaedia we have online, firmly edited and sourced - especially on controversial subjects like this - and arguing its points and it's definitions. It is, of course,  not universally correct, but whenever you find yourself opposing its points, you should look carefully at your own position. If it reports the scientific consensus claiming there are no known unambiguous matriarchies, this is something that shouldn't just be tossed out because you don't agree.

Take the Mosuo people, for instance, probably the closest we have to a matriarchy. There, women rule the home and the family, while men hold the political power. This makes it neither a matriarchy or a patriarchy, but a mixed form.

Did women dominate the economic, political and military order within the Hopi? Were the chiefs almost exclusively female? If so, you may have a point. Your quot, in fact, makes it look fairly egalitarian. "gender roles ... are egalitarian [...] Hopi women "participate fully in ... political decision-making."" - that's not what sounds like a matriarchy to me!

Edited by Akhôrahil
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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Obviously not - didn't I mention how we clearly have them in Glorantha? What I was reacting to was the idea that they somehow have to exist, in light of how matriarchies are basically non-existent in our world.  

Seriously?  Who said they "have" to exist?  I said:

It's the interfaces that are where the interesting shit happens - in chemistry, biology, and even in cultures.  There are going to be cultures that are 'men-have-all-the-rights-and-women-have-none' (I was going to say 'hidebound traditionalists' but that would be pejorative and frankly unfair), there are obviously cultures where women have the same unquestioned dominance.  There are going to be slaveholding societies and societies that react to slavery with revulsion.

All this over saying "there are" instead of "there could be"? 

Get a flippin' hobby, man: the whole sentence was a hypothetical.  And wasn't even the point, TBH.  

 

2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Again, obviously not (I can't say I think you're arguing in good faith here, putting up such straw men). What if would take would be for women to systematically and definitively dominate the society politically and economically, something which clearly wasn't the case.

Not sure that you're entitled to conclusively define socio-anthropological terms.  Among actual professionals, the definition of matriarchy is a debate that's gone on at least since 1924.  

2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Did women dominate the economic, political and military order within the Hopi? Were the chiefs almost exclusively female? If so, you may have a point. Your quot, in fact, makes it look fairly egalitarian. "gender roles ... are egalitarian [...] Hopi women "participate fully in ... political decision-making."" - that's not what sounds like a matriarchy to me!

Your argument basically devolves down to the No True Scotsman fallacy.  You ad-hoc some narrow definition in your head, and then insist that according to THAT, nothing fits.  Personally I prefer using words with the meaning generally attributed to them by the world at large. 

To your standard, I certainly concede: you win the solipsism award.

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This no longer seems Gloranthan, productive, or even civil, so I'm exiting the discussion, and simply refer you to the dictionary definitions.

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8 hours ago, styopa said:

Your argument basically devolves down to the No True Scotsman fallacy.  You ad-hoc some narrow definition in your head, and then insist that according to THAT, nothing fits.  Personally I prefer using words with the meaning generally attributed to them by the world at large. 

I have to agree with this - the idea that a matriarchy would be exactly the same as a patriarchy, except gender roles are reversed. 

The very same Wiki quoted above has a long section on definition, etc, that contradicts some of the ideas expressed here, and then goes on to outline a few "possible" matriarchies (depending on those definitions). Hopi are one of those.

If we get away from thinking like "matriarchy is patriarchy with inverted gender roles", then obviously society would have quite different rules. Sometimes, those rules would surprise us. Maybe even allowing men to "dominate" some aspects of society.

Glorantha? Is Esrolia a matriarchy? And if we say "yes", then are we automatically bound to the idea that men can't easily rise to strong power? Or, will we use a different idea, and power and decisions are more egalitarian? (Yeah, I know it's already written... )

Edited by Shiningbrow

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6 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

...

If we get away from thinking like "matriarchy is patriarchy with inverted gender roles", then obviously society would have quite different rules. Sometimes, those rules would surprise us. Maybe even allowing men to "dominate" some aspects of society.

...

I think this is the heart of the problem here - these two words are directly linked in the english language - "matriarchy is patriarchy with inverted gender roles" exactly describes the relationship between the two words and the ideas they embody.

If you want to describe a society with a different structure you have to use a different word to describe it.

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