Gender and Sexuality, With Maps

I wanted to make some more maps but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted them to be of, so I asked a few friends.  One of them asked for maps of fashion trends, but when I said I had no idea how to even start those, she switched her request to ones about gender, sex and marriage.  So that’s where this began.

I had actually previously made a map of gender in politics, to go along with my Political Systems map, so here it is:







This map has total coverage (as opposed to the political system map) because even where there is no central or true government, there is still interaction between the genders, either at a family or an individual level.

I’d always considered the world of Halci to be a bit more egalitarian than the real world, if only because of its origin story — all humans being descended from the hybridization of different animal tribes, fairly recently in the past.  This means that there has not been tens of thousands of years for the former social structures of packs and herds to break down into something completely human, which also means that there is less of a sense of gender dominance in many of the tribes and kingdoms.

Indeed, as you can see, the green ‘Egalitarian’ type of gender-relation predominates.  Politically this means you’ll find as many women in positions of power as men, including in roles you might consider classically ‘male’ — from head of household to minister of defense.  This reflects the egalitarian nature of many animal relations, particularly among predators: the strongest or smartest rules because of those traits, not because of the gender.  Think wolves or eagles.

The orange and the red reflect lands where one gender dominates the other, for various reasons.  The large orange area in the upper middle has its origin in the plainsland on the left side, just under the Thundercloak Mountains: the kingdom of Jernizan.  Again taking from the animal-tribes motif, Jernizan’s dominant tribe (and patron spirit) is the Lion, with its theme of the male head-of-household and his pride of lionesses.  The male has the political voice and the women are obliged to follow, even if they do most of the work.

Jernizan spread its man-first philosophy throughout the lands it conquered, from the mountains north of it to the enemy empire in the east.  Though Jernizan no longer controls that territory, its influence remains on the culture; without that invasion, the entire upper right side of the map would be green.

The smidge of orange on the far-right upper arm is herd territory — a tribe devoted to the Stag, and thus arranging itself as male heads-of-household with female harems.

The orange islands are the Brother Isles, which are patriarchal due to the lingering influence of the god Rhehevrok, whose warlords took shelter in those mountains alongside peasant-folk when the Seals were busy deluging the (now-submerged) land of Lisalhan.  As the followers of an oppressive and sadistic god, the stranded warlords turned their attention to the peasantry in classic rape-and-pillage style, and the political system has continued in that vein until just recently (Ycinth having become a democracy through a series of revolutions and Graviena having forced a constitution upon its petty king).

The orange mass to the left of the Brother Isles is the newborn military kingdom of Szari-Nak, populated mostly by bullfolk, where men wage war and women bear children, no exceptions.  Szari-Nak women may be tough, but they have limited rights and no political voice.

Moving on to the matriarchies, opposing Szari-Nak (though not because of its politics) is Xiroacer.  Once ruled by a female theocracy of Death-worshipers, it is now split between those priestesses and a new class of shamans, but all are still female.  The Xiroacen are somewhat based on hyenas, in whose social structures even the lowest-ranking female is more respected than the highest-ranking male.  Things aren’t quite so bad in Xiroacer, but there is no attempt at equality.

The three small red swampy areas around the center sea are Toad territory, where survival requires following the rules of the Wide-Mouthed Mothers lest they swallow you up.  Likewise, in the southern desert, the scorpion-clans obey their mothers or are shown the error of their ways.

Finally, the blue ‘segregated’ areas.  Some of these areas are literally gender-segregated, with unmarried women living in one area of the town/city and unmarried men in another — or sometimes even the married folk living separately and meeting only for conversation and sex.  Yezad is the most physically-segregated area, particularly the capital city of Serinhur — where one half of the city is dedicated to the Sun God and the other to the Moon Goddess.

More loosely, the blue areas at the top and around the rivers on the bottom have segregated-rule, but not segregated-living.  Women rule the women; men rule the men.  Separate laws exist for each gender.  Disputes between the genders’ laws are decided in court.  Both of these areas are predominantly ogrish, and often the law-segregation does not apply to non-ogres, who instead adhere to a set of ‘lower laws’ originally intended for servants and slaves.  The lower laws are generally more lenient, because ogres hold themselves to a better standard of behavior — which is important when they can be up to 14 ft (4+ meters) tall.

All of this has a bearing on the next map:





Anyone who’s read past the first page of The Light of Kerrindryr will know that there are people of various sexual orientations in the book.  It’s not a focus of the story but it’s not hidden, and I realized recently that I have the full LGBTQ spectrum in there as of Book 3 (though I don’t have an entire QUILTBAG, which in addition to being a better acronym also encompasses more folks).  Wasn’t intentional, but it reflects the realities of the world.

Discussing the map, there is only one place openly hostile/violent toward its LGBTQ people: Jernizan.  Again, Jernizan is Lion country, with its male-dominated prides and subservient (though dangerous) females.  This manifests as an upper-class of rich older men living polygynist lifestyles with many wives, and an underclass of unmarried younger men who are legally forbidden to hook up with each other — and culturally compelled to attack each other over any behavior outside the norm.  Female homosexuality is also outlawed on the grounds that it robs the dominant men of their procreative rights, and though it may persist in secret, it’s as likely to be tattled-on by other women as male homosexuality is to be punished by fellow men.

Ah, social pressure.

Jernizan exported this view to all the lands it conquered, in addition to its patriarchal structure.  Around it, thus, you can see territories with a lighter but still unpleasant view of homosexuality (and other non-standard gender interactions): Kerrindryr above it in red, which is a Stag-based culture so already had the view of dominant-male-with-female-harem and just added Jernizan’s disgust to the mix; Averogne and Illane to the right, with red and magenta views on the subject; Wyndon the magenta band between upper-left and upper-right; and much of Amandon and Daecia in the middle-right.

The Brother Isles are less harsh socially toward their LGBTQ populace but have still outlawed them, with punishments ranging from public humiliation to exile.  To the left, Szari-Nak does not exile them but will kick males out of the military (thus depriving them of any political power or status) and monitor females to ensure that they’re not slacking in their breeding duties.

The red swath in the desert is a mix of scorpion- and human clans mostly expressing their distaste for the ‘decadent’ ways of their neighbors by oppressing their own LGBTQ individuals, as if their presence was a sign of weakness within the tribe.

The magenta swaths on the far left and the far right both hinge on the same idea: that LGBTQ folks are abnormal but harmless, yet still need to be shepherded for their own good.  In Xiroacer, a lesbian can never be a high priestess, a gay man can’t be a ship’s captain; neither of them are trustworthy.

In Ciritheen, even though the law considers everyone equal, LGBTQ folk are discriminated against socially and thus have a restricted range of opportunities — usually keeping them in the labor or entertainment classes, rather than allowing movement into the intellectual or political ones — but this is less a case of distaste about behavior than the fact that they exist and thus make the neat male-female dichotomy into a messy spectrum.  The Cirithen prefer the world to be clear, structured and hierarchical, and do not take well to nonconformists.

The purple marks all of the territories that are indifferent to their LGBTQ populace, which in a way is the ideal.  Equal treatment!  Not all of these include equality under the law, but part of that is that not all of these places have laws — the lizard-lands in the south, for instance.  In other places such as Yezad, there is a disconnect between the rights afforded to male-female couples and those afforded to anyone else, but the general opinion of the culture toward LGBTQ people is ‘eh, same as everyone’.

All ogrish areas are both indifferent and legally equal, because who wants to tell the ogre warlord that he can’t have a husband?

The blue spots of encouragement in the Border Mountains, the Khaeleokiels, the Garnet Mountains and Yezad (and Maren) all exist for cultural reasons.  The people of the Border, Garnet and Khaeleokiel Mountains (wolf-kin, wolf/boar-kin and fox-kin respectively) encourage same-sex pair-bonding to assist in the raising of children; their ideas of marriage are either nonexistent or fluid, as shown in the next map.  Yezad, on the other hand, encourages homosexuality among a subset of its populace to maintain the gender-separation in life, law and religion.  The High Priest of the Sun and the High Priestess of the Moon are ritually married, but in practice live with (and often love) members of their own gender, as both religious orders are encouraged to do.

Moving on!

MarriageTypesMuch of the information in this map dovetails with that of the previous map to illustrate the state of gender and sexual relations in the various cultures.  Starting with the light blue, we see polygyny (a man having multiple wives) in Jernizan, Szari-Nak and the Brother Isles, the most heavily patriarchal areas.  We also see it in Kerrindryr and at the far right tip of the northern landmass — both Stag-and-harem areas — and as an option across Wyndon in the middle (which has always been influenced heavily by Jernizan).

Polyandry in green (women having multiple husbands) is likewise popular in Xiroacer’s matriarchy, but also in the lizard-culture surrounding Tchellaryllyn’s Skirt and in the small Toad swamp south of Jernizan.

Equal-opportunity polygamy is in tan, and in this context means an individual of either gender with a harem of either or both genders.  Obviously this can go a variety of ways, but usually the head-of-household is a noble or rich merchant who marries as many people as he/she wants to or can afford.  In both the northern and southern tan areas are also red and magenta stripes — the red indicating group marriages where either two (or more) polygamous households have merged or a leaderless group of lovers simply decides to make it official, and the magenta indicating a two-person monogamous relationship as a fall-back for those without the funds for polygamy.

The tan stripes in the two magenta areas in Yezad and Ciritheen are unusual-but-not-outlawed polygamous enclaves among the otherwise-monogamous populace.

Orange is not a marriage type per se, but still a social merging for the raising of children.  Group (or sometimes pack) childrearing involves two or more women banding together to communally raise their children, with the men either uninvolved or free to come and go as they choose.  Sometimes this dovetails with the encouragement toward homosexuality in these areas, with the women engaging in a lesbian relationship in addition to childrearing and the ‘outsider’ men in their own relationship, the only interaction between the two groups therefore being for procreation.  However, there is also a fair amount of monogamous and group-marriage crossover, leaving most individuals free to decide what is best for them and their children.

Finally, the few dark blue streaks in the upper right.  Permanent monogamy, or having only one mate for life, is not something enforced on anyone, but some tribes — most notably the eagle-blooded Trivesteans — form such strong pair-bonds that they can not bring themselves to remarry after the death of their original spouse.  Those that do not follow their spouse into death will stay alone for the rest of their lives, often isolating themselves from the rest of society.  This is not encouraged, and many permanent widow/ers find themselves forcibly remarried by their relatives or their rulers, but the new bond often does not take.  Most prevalent in those with a strong bird-of-prey bloodline, this trait does sometimes show among wolf-kin and others.

And now for something somewhat different:


I say ‘somewhat’ because, as many of the cultures’ beliefs and attitudes are influenced by the beast-tribes they once were, so too are their diets.

Most widespread are the dark purple of the omnivore and the magenta of the opportunistic carnivore — which in this context means people who prefer meat whenever possible but won’t die without it.  Omnivorous areas are generally those with the greatest mixture of beast-tribes, and thus the greatest combination of potential diets; opportunistic carnivore areas show a predominance of predator bloodlines, but also a good underlying dose of preyfolk, so that meat-eating isn’t an absolute requirement.

The red lines and the few broad red swaths are for the obligate carnivores: those who need meat to live.  These are predominantly cat-skinchangers or those with a large amount of cat-blood, but spider-folk, eagle-folk and certain breeds of lizard-folk are also featured.  For these populations, plant-based food is all but indigestible, and the raising or hunting of animals is a life-or-death business.

Insectivores eat bugs, either mainly or exclusively.  Most of these populations are in the southern jungles (bat-folk and lizard-folk) or in that final arm of the Garnet Mountains in the upper right (bat-folk).

Pescetarians are vegetarian-plus-fish, with the largest population being the Cirithen island-dwellers — as a matter of supply and necessity more than their ideal diet.  Likewise, the Brother Isles are somewhat pescetarian because that’s what they have available, even if they might privately prefer to be opportunistic carnivores.

Vegetarian diets (inclusive of dairy and possibly of eggs) predominate in Szari-Nak (with its almost-entirely bull-folk population) and Kerrindryr (whose people descended mostly from the Stag and have little or no predator-blood).  These populations do not digest meat well, though this does not mean they do not have a taste for it.

Finally, in tan, are the vegan territories.  The red-striped one above green Kerrindryr is more Deer territory, though purer-blooded, with cat-folk preying upon them.  The big northern swath and the two tan strips along the southern rivers are ogres: all ogres are vegan by digestive necessity.  Finally, the Accursed Thornland enforces a vegan diet upon its people because bloodshed of any type activates the curse — but it also provides everything the populace needs.

Some day I need to separate all this info out by society and write proper blog posts about them, instead of the dialogues I did a while ago.  Before I start that, though, I kinda want to draw close-up maps of each of the countries, with more cities and landmarks and the like.  So much to do — not to mention finalizing the edit of book 2 and continuing the rough draft of book 3…

About H. Anthe Davis

Worldbuilder. Self-published writer.
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3 Responses to Gender and Sexuality, With Maps

  1. Erica Dakin says:

    Chris says you’re crazy.
    Also, I’ve never heard of a QUILTBAG?

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