May 21, 2014 at 10:55 pm #227
While women on Tékumel are legally free to become adventurers, most human females stay in the Clan House. In the society of the nation of Tsolyánu on Tékumel, most women are stay-at-home child-rearers, cooks, housekeepers.
This has actually been true of women in many cultures. If you were portraying an authentic medieval world, many (though not all!) societies should not have gallivanting movie-Tolkein Eowyns and adventuring Disney-cartoon Meridas. Sword-wielding General Mulans, spear-bearing Queen Boadiccas and swashbuckling Anne Bonneys would be rare. 🙂
Tradition on Tékumel dictates that the place of women is in the home, but women don’t just become “good clan-girls” because “that’s what’s always been done”. Part of what keeps them there is a sense that it’s a privilege, and that the home is where they’re most needed.
The Stones Upon Which the Pot Rests:
A Glimpse Through Central American Eyes
Women were supposed to stay at home in Aztec society, too. When tribes were semi-nomadic, migrating between favorite sites several times a year, women were supposed to stay by the hearth. Cooking by the fire, and working and sleeping close to it, was a privilege as well as a responsibility: the safest place, the warmest place, was by the fire. When people could settle down in agrarian times, the fire that you didn’t have re-build, re-establishing your kitchen all over again each time you moved, was a wonderful thing!
In Aztec tradition, childbirth was viewed as the mother’s “battle”. During a birth, the midwife hollered war cries, cheering the mother on. Dying in childbirth was equal to dying in war.
The messages to stay home began, literally, the moment a baby girl was born. The midwife would cut the child’s umbilical cord and if it was a girl, she blessed the baby thus:
“Your father, your mother… have ordered…
you shall be the heart of the house.
…You shall go nowhere,
you shall not be a wanderer.
You shall be the covering of ashes that banks the fire,
you shall be the three stones on which the cooking pot rests.”
— translated in “A Scattering of Jades”*
Then the midwife would bury the afterbirth and umbilicus next to the hearth (thus keeping such a magical thing out of the hands of any witch-doctor/monsters/ghosts, of course. Boys carried theirs with them through life.).
* “A Scattering of Jades: Stories, Poems, and Prayers of the Aztecs”
Meanwhile, on Tékumel…
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that in the south of the nation of Tsolyánu, women who marry go to the hearths of their husbands’ clan. In the (more matriarchal) northern Tsolyánu and the nation of Yan Kor, grooms join the households of their wives and new mothers-in-law. Still, the emphasis is on staying in the home, and by the fire.
A Spacefaring Imperative to Hide and Protect the Females
Today, we live on a planet with 8 billion people. That we could die out, is the strangest of concepts. That we might be at war with other intelligent races who want to wipe us out is unimaginable to most folks. In the hypothetical future of Tékumel, however, we know that when humans settled planets in a diaspora, there were wars with other species.
On Tékumel itself, such a war is still not completely over. The Hlüss and the Ssú, original inhabitants of the planet, were driven into preserves but they are still the ‘Enemies of Mankind’.
It makes sense that most women would have been stashed away, cached away, for the good of the species. And then the menfolk go to war– because, to put it bluntly, males are expendable.
SPECULATION Somewhere on Tékumel: Neo-Amazons…?
I wonder if the worship of the goddess Lady Dilinala came to prominence as a result of women-only communities that would naturally come about at these times? There would have been colonies with no males– for generations.
Somewhere on Tékumel, I imagine there are lands without men, descendants of these woman-only spacefarers. Impregnation would have been by stored sperm, at first. Embryos would be checked, and only females allowed to develop. Then, they might have progressed to combining two eggs, in which case only female babies were produced at all.
They would have relied on technology in the time of the ancients. Now, however, they would perhaps depend on clerical magic: a spell by which two women conceive a baby with traits of both mothers. This would truly take the ideals of the goddess Lady Dilinala (“Patroness of Woman as Woman-Alone”) to an extreme! Perhaps they worship an Aspect of Lady Dilinala?
In such a society– who does the cooking, who raises the babies…? Would a ‘child-rearing’ class arise? Would they be inferiors or equals or superiors? Might they be segregated? Only Lord Ksarul (god of secrets) and your GM know!
Let us go out, then, and explore the world to which Professor Barker introduced us. …Of course, if you’re a woman, you’ll just have to sign this waiver that makes you an Aridani first.
- This topic was modified 5 years ago by Talzhemir.
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