Justifying matrilineal descent for a setting

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Sharad9, Apr 19, 2017.

  1. Sharad9

    Sharad9 Journeyman

    44
    6
    0
    In my research I came across a culture that believed women were the ones to pass on their genes to offspring. Men however, didn't pass on their genes, but their spirit. The spirit was the seat of personality for the human being, and the place where attributes and characteristics precided. Good as well as bad characteristics like bravery, disloyalty, etc would be carried over from the man.

    For my setting, I would want to make this change biological rather than cultural, to make humans distinct and to make matrilineal descent the norm (I am aware that i dont need to justify matrilineality, but this sounds more interesting).Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from the mother, so maybe my scientific explanation could be that in this world mitochondrial DNA (outside the cell nucleus) is the source of physical characteristics and the cell's nucleus (it might fit this idea to call it the cell's soul) only controls personality.

    Is this change in human biology believable? Would there be any realistic ramifications of this for a society? How would it influence culture if at all?
     
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Dark Lord

    1,048
    209
    63
    Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh........... Personally I'd say avoid any science talk with this at all? Both saying that personality is controlled by DNA and physical characteristics determined by only one parent (which honestly should result in the kids just being physical clones of the parent) are askew to me.
     
    Tom and TheKillerBs like this.
  3. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Master

    99
    49
    18
    It does seem a bit complex and unnecessary. I have a matrilineal society in my Malvern/Mora novels and their rationale is as simple as making sure of a clear line of descent (in that we are not always positive who the father might be!).
     
    TheKillerBs likes this.
  4. Sharad9

    Sharad9 Journeyman

    44
    6
    0
    How do you deal with inbreeding issues?
     
  5. Sharad9

    Sharad9 Journeyman

    44
    6
    0
    So what it I just say "because magic"?
     
  6. Tom

    Tom Istari

    2,256
    708
    113
    I've got a matrilineal society (actually several) in my WIP, and in my opinion there's no need to justify it. My inspiration came from the Seneca Nation, the Iroquois Confederacy tribe which lives in my region, which is a matrilineal culture. As well as tracing their ancestry through the female line, Seneca people also belong to whichever clan their mother was born into.

    Having a scientific explanation, especially the one you've given, seems to cheapen it a bit, at least for me. Not all human traditions are based on facts of our biology. In addition, flirting with pseudo-scientific elements can be risky. Before you tweak stuff around you need to have a real, solid understanding of how it functions as it is. I can remember reading a lot of stories where human biology was altered in some way and just thinking, "Oh my god....DNA doesn't work that way..." If I were you I'd simply avoid it wholesale.
     
    TheKillerBs likes this.
  7. How would a culture understand what mitochondrial DNA is and what a cell's nucleus is, but not understand anything about heredity? In this world our understanding of heredity came far before we knew about DNA.
     
  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Scribal Lord

    626
    214
    43
    This is what I first thought of when I saw the thread title. It's the simplest reasoning for it.
     
  9. La Volpe

    La Volpe Mystagogue

    361
    164
    0
    My first reaction is to say that you should just avoid explaining it in too much detail (as others mentioned). You can mention that physical stuff are passed down by the mother and personality by the father, but don't explain why. I'd imagine that the average layman wouldn't know the specifics anyway (unless we're talking about an advanced society here).

    One problem that I'm thinking of now though: If the personality is always passed down by the father (i.e. if father has personality A, baby will always have personality A), wouldn't every person in the society have the exact same personality? I.e. if there are no "mutations" of personality, then the same personality would be passed down from the original father to every child born, who would pass down the same personality to their children.
     
  10. elemtilas

    elemtilas Mystagogue

    244
    105
    43
    Agreed. Some things are best left to the mists of time.

    In The World, there are a number of matriarchal and matrilineal societies. I don't explain them any more than I explain the patriarchal societies or the none-of-the-above societies.

    Good points. The farther back in time we look, the fewer ancestors there are. I don't know how likely a "primal pair" really is in human history, but even at that choke point in time when there were only a couple thousand humans in the whole world, and all of those would have had the same basic ancestry, yeah, you're looking at a very small number of male & female ancestors for everyone else to come along later. Now, myriades & lakhs of years later, we'd all basically be physical clones of one of the Founding Females and personality clones of one of the Male Founders.

    Certainly an interesting scenario!

    What about them? Some folks get along happily enough marrying first cousins.
     
  11. Tom

    Tom Istari

    2,256
    708
    113
    Maybe so, but rapid accruition of mutations from pairing similar DNA doesn't sound happy to me.
     
  12. elemtilas

    elemtilas Mystagogue

    244
    105
    43
    On the other hand, if all the physical traits derive from the female via some kind of parthenogenesis, there'd be no worries about inbreeding at all!

    So yeah, go on [email protected] your cute cousin all you want! :eek:
     
Loading...
Similar Threads
  1. Meyer
    Replies:
    27
    Views:
    2,597

Share This Page