Post by Ahasuerus
Post by Johnny1A
There are some constants and semi-constants rooted in biology,
though. As long as humans reproduce the way we do, for ex, the
female fertility rate is absolutely critical. Which means that a
tendency toward mostly male militaries, for ex, might actually be
a structural tendency in the human race.
It seems likely that different procreational strategies available to
different individuals withing different human populations inform other
aspects of their individual and collective behavior, i.e. psychology,
Within limits. There are certain constants, though, that you can't escape unless you completely rewire or bypass human reproductive biology.
One critical number is the 'female fertility rate' or FFR. This is usually defined as the _average_ number of offspring per fertile female in a population. For statistical convenience, it's usually assumed that the 'fertile period' is from about 15 to 45. Obviously a few babies are born to women younger or older than that, but the huge majority of babies are born in that period.
OK, for populations in fairly secure situations like the advanced Western nation-states, the key value is 2.10 or so. That is, as long as the FFR is 2.1, the population will hold steady over time, ignoring immigration and emigration. If the FFR rises above 2.1 your population will increase, if it drops below 2.1 it'll decrease over time. The further the FFR moves from 2.1, the faster the changes will happen, it's a compound interest effect.
If something pushes a culture's FFR below 2.1 and keeps it there over time, that culture is in trouble. This is very nearly a universal constant, it arises from the mathematics of biology. In theory immigration to the group can help, in practice it usually doesn't because cultures with FFRs below 2.1 tend to have trouble with assimilation, so there's a tendency for immigration to replace the culture rather than join it. Again, the bigger the gap, the worse the problem.
Cultures with FFRs consistently above 2.1 are better at assimilation, everything else being equal, but don't need immigration as much to maintain their numbers.
The Empire of Man in the MOTE universe is no exception. If their FFR drops below replacement rate, the Empire is on track to collapse or extinction over time. Female equality in the economy and elsewhere hinges, to some degree, on the ability of a culture to maintain a viable FFR, because it doesn't matter _why_ the FFR is too low, it matters that it's too low.
Other things also arise from the hard laws of biology. One male can impregnate as many women as are willing to go along (or not, if he doesn't care about morality). One male can have 1000 women pregnant at once, in principle. But no matter how much sex she has, a woman can only have one baby (or a handful) at a time, and it takes 9 months each time, period.
So if something wipes out 20% of a culture's males...well, that hurts biodiversity and has other bad cultural effects, but it doesn't _necessarily_ cause a problem with the FFR. If something wipes 20% of the fertile females, that culture has been _hurt_.
Which means, crudely and oversimplistically, that from a societal POV, sons are expendable and daughters are not. Which, perversely, has operated to make the status and freedom of women historically much worse. But it's still a fact of life, not negotiable, unless you can bypass reproductive biology.
Why would the Empire operate on a male-only military model, after the social changes on Earth in the 20C and 21C? Well, the Earth was devastated by massive nuclear exchanges in the early 22C. The Empire was devastated again, worse, by the Secession Wars, many worlds knocked back to the Stone Age, most worlds badly damaged.
It's entirely plausible that the societies and cultures that protected their females from risk and pressured them toward motherhood outcompeted the others because of those hard biological imperatives, and so the Empire's way of doing things endured while the others went under.
Note too that it specifically is said in-story that the Imperial core worlds like Sparta are not as strict about it as the frontier worlds, which is precisely what you would expect. They didn't fall as far, have been recovered longer, and so have the luxury of relaxing the rules.