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The Status of Men

The most significant social difference between the world of Shalazar and the real world is the historical role of women. Before the Diaspora, both the First City and the Twenty-Five Tribes were led by men. There was no set reason for this having developed-unlike the Biblical tale, neither sex was created first. However, Rasheeda was considerably more thoughtful, withdrawn, and given to worship, and Omar found himself at first reluctantly and then more willingly drawn to temporal and political power.

The end of the Diaspora changed all of this: besides the fact that the Tablets stated clearly that the lines of Shalazar were to be traced through the female, Calipha Adara was a strong and potent ruler. She realized that despite her command of the Djinn, the forces of tradition are strong in and of themselves, and that one of the tribal leaders might seek to dominate Shalazar by marrying her and using her as a figurehead. It was for this reason that she sent the Generals forth into the desert to pacify the Infidels-by the time they returned, she had cemented her authority.

The Primacy of Women and the Frailty of Men

Through tradition, scripture, and interpretation, women are afforded many advantages, arising from their spiritual superiority to men. The chief among these are:

  • Only women can hold land
  • Men may hold property (except land), but that property is passed to their female descendants (if any), or to their closest living female relation, if they have no daughter. Men cannot inherit.

These advantages are afforded to women because men are considered, traditionally, to be spiritually weak, and much more subject to temptation than women (cf. the story of Omar).

Legal Restrictions Applying to Men

Besides the advantages listed above, there are several restrictions placed upon men:

  • No man may raise his hand against a woman, save on the orders of another woman, or if that woman is legally his slave. Even should she be his slave, no man shall kill a woman, save by the order of another woman with the authority of the Calipha.
  • No man may wear cloth woven from clouds.
  • No man may enter the Courts of Justice to resolve their disputes legally; rather, they must be represented before the Priestesses by a woman. However, as all of mankind are children of Shaliq, men may address the Calipha for redress.
  • Men may not argue before the Courts of Justice, nor may they be involved in formal arguments of scriptural interpretation (i.e. within the Temple).
  • Men are not allowed in the innermost sanctums of the Temple
  • Men may not become Priests-they may, however, become monks, so long as they become Eunuchs.

Roles for Men/Safety Valves

For all these disadvantages, men still play wide and varied roles within the city of Shalazar. At the highest levels, the matriarchy is supreme-however, as one goes further down the social scale, the importance of these differences diminishes. While men may not own land or inherit property, fully three quarters of the population has no property to inherit, and land ownership is the provenance of the upper-classes.

Men of the higher classes may feel the chafing of these restrictions, but there are always exceptions to these rules, through which men have exercised influence throughout the centuries:

  • First and foremost, a clever man may marry-this allows him to exercise power in the place of his spouse. Many women are willing to assign 'stewardship' of their property or business interests to their husband, so long as they can provide the wife with their material desires
  • The Colleges, being secondary in importance to the Great Temple, have been havens for men for centuries. In everything but worship, they consider both sexes to be equivalent, and equally able to learn. Because of this, many of the scholars and magi are a great deal more egalitarian.