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Does it make Sense for a Patriarchal system to exclusively have Female rulers?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Erebus, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. Erebus

    Erebus Minstrel

    This country has a long line of female rulers going back since its inception. Due to a divine connection with the goddess, only queens can inherit the throne, and rules as both leader of the nation and the country's religion. Any girls born to her will be in line to inherit the throne, with sons never inheriting. As head of the faith, she rules with "absolute authority". However, this does not translate into political power. She does not rule directly, but chooses a regent to rule in her stead. This is largely ceremonial, as the regent is elected by the government with the queen simply legitimizing his rule.

    The regent handles governmental affairs, enforcing the law, etc. While the queen is the reigning monarch, her powers are limited to religious and cultural affairs. Society is matrilineal, but Men are still considered the breadwinners in society, and dominate in all matters that run the country. According to the creation myth, a regent tried to usurp the position of the queen and size the throne for himself. His reign met with disaster however, with economic turmoil, invasions, etc. This is interpreted by history as the goddess punishing society due to the usurper ' actions. Eventually, order was restored and the revolutionary was overthrown. Since then, the Satu quo has remained in place.

    Does this setup make any sense?
    Dark Lord Thomas Pie likes this.
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    If your world has female rulers, it is by definition a matriarchy, not a patriarchy.
    Malik likes this.
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Makes sense to me. I don't see why you can't set things up this way.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Ireth is correct. The "-archy" part means ruler or rule by. A patriarchy is rule by men. Period. Oligarchy means rule by the rich. Monarchy means rule by one. And so on.

    Now, you can construct your society however you please. There are examples of figureheads you can look to for inspiration; e.g., the "do-nothing" kings of the later Merovingians. Just avoid the terms matriarchy and patriarchy and you'll avoid confusing or annoying readers who expect the words to mean something in particular.
    Malik, Night Gardener and Sheilawisz like this.
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    But the OP said the women are figureheads and real power is held by men. That’s a patriarchy, imo. Look to who holds political power and who makes the rules.
  6. Corwynn

    Corwynn Troubadour

    True, it would depend on how much power the queen and regent actually have. Is all the real power in the hands of the regent, or does the queen have veto power? The queen may not have secular power, but her spiritual power could count for a lot if the society is very religious. Also, could women theoretically become politicians if they wanted to, or are they excluded from government by law? Can women vote? All of these will play a factor in how patriarchal the system really is, but officially, on its surface, it is still a matriarchal system, since women and only women are the rulers.

    This doesn't mean that the society can't still have a patriarchal culture. Judging by the description, the society was truly matriarchal in the past, but has undergone cultural change since then, which shifted social power to the men, with the remaining matriarchal aspects being holdovers from the past.
    Night Gardener likes this.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I agree with where you're going here. I think you have a take a broad view of the society, though. It's hard to base the analysis on any one person, even a queen. Was England a matriarchal society when Queen Elizabeth was on the throne for 40+ years in the late 1500s/early 1600s? I think it is clear it was not, even though Elizabeth had real power.
    Malik likes this.
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Why not simply avoid the terms and thus avoid any confusion resulting from their use. The arrangement described in the OP can certainly work. No need to label it.
    TheKillerBs likes this.
  9. Dark Lord Thomas Pie

    Dark Lord Thomas Pie Archmage

    Yes, but it does not ACTUALLY have female rulers, they barely seem to make any desicions based on what's described.
  10. Angry Briar Rabbit

    Angry Briar Rabbit Dreamer

    I agree with skip.knox, the terminology is inconsistent to what a prospective audience associates with the definition.

    The system itself sounds fine. Sounds like a religious caste on one side and the administration on the other. The traditional Hindu system has the priests as caretakers of the temple, but don't have any administration control, whereas the kings have status but need the priests to confirm them. It's an interlocked system.
  11. spaced06

    spaced06 Dreamer

    Maybe you might want to consider a slightly different approach. Don't worry too much about what tag fits best for what you're trying to do. Focus more on the power dynamics that you want to explore, the culture, the characters, and the interplay between them. Ask questions about how they manage and distribute power, what safeguards the society has against its abuse, and how these safeguards have been set in place. Then let the reader figure out if they would consider it a patriarchy or not. I find this approach frees me quite a bit to let my imagination fly, and I personally use it a lot for other such tags that might mean different things to different people.
    Like "medieval", for example. Many people understand many different things by that word. And hey, medieval in Turkey is very different from medieval in Germany, or India, even if we have the LOOONG discussion as to what historical period is "medieval" exactly. So instead of asking if my world is medieval or not I ask what kind of tools they have access to and why, what materials, can they forge iron? Steel? Do they mostly build in wood? Stone? Thatch? Can they make some sort of concrete mix? How did they figure it out? Is it some crazy material in this world with particular properties that might do things that would make certain technological advancements irrelevant? Do they wear pointy hats with red feathers for some cultural reason? You will need to do different amounts of thinking depending on what you want to do with your story, but even if you just need a little bit, you can just focus on how things actually work in your world on more concrete terms, and then let your readers come to their own conclusions on how they want to label what you did.
    This being said, labels are necessary, particularly if you want to find a wider audience. But you can figure them out by examining what you made and then coming to a conclusion, rather than by assuming a label first and then working to fit into it. Or at least that's what works for me. Did I go terribly off topic? I did, didn't I?

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