Our genomes tell us that there are many examples in human history of a group of foreigners who are mostly male migrating somewhere and having children with local women to the nearly complete exclusion of local men over a few generations, mostly (although not necessarily 100%) removing Y-DNA from local men from the local gene pool.

But, apart from the Iberian dominated migration of men to Latin America around 500 years ago, almost all of the known examples of this either pre-date written historical records, or are only thinly documented from a social history perspective (e.g. maybe there are king lists and military records, but not histories documenting daily life and ordinary people).

Indeed, even the post-Columbian event has fairly thin historical documentation and was far less extreme and complete (in terms of the extent of replacement of local men in the gene pool) than many historical examples of this phenomena (e.g. Indo-European migration to Europe in the Enolithic/early Bronze Age era).

What would this look like in terms of social structure, class division, genocide v. control of scarce female populations, polygamy v. monogamy, cultural and linguistic change, etc.?

For example, suppose that humans from 70,000 years ago were transplanted by aliens to habitable planets in several nearby solar systems, and that humans from one of these other stars, who are only trivially different from modern humans genetically (although different enough to be obviously different from native humans on sight in some purely cosmetic way), who are more technologically advanced/culturally effective than us, send a few tens of million of their men and a few million women to Earth as it is now in the present day, as colonists who repeat this historical trope. How would it play out?

(Assume that the aliens disappear after leaving some tech behind with the transplanted humans, are never seen again since their disappearance 70000 years ago. Assume that handwavium solves the interstellar journey problem for these migrants who are making a one way trip. I am thinking something a bit Book of Exodus parting of the Red Sea-like in terms of crossing the barrier between worlds through a moderately short-lived gate kind of scenario with no explanation, involving a large military unit and associated camp followers who emerge, en mass, in some large vacant area on Earth with themselves and their gear.)


closed as too broad by Mołot, sphennings, Renan, Azuaron, kingledion Jan 4 '18 at 13:49

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Many examples": please elaborate. Iberian conquerers most certainly did not "exclude" local Y-DNA. "Indo-European migration to Europe": that's a particularly poor example. First of all, chances are are that the Indo-European languages originated in Europe (see the Kurgan hypothesis); or is it that Ukraine is suddenly not in Europe any more? Second, there was no mass westwards migration, or at least not one which left clear archaeological traces. Third, most European populations have Y haplogroups going back the neolithic at least. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 4 '18 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ Look to history. There are several examples of the European conquest & colonization of less developed parts of the world (e.g., the Americas & Africa) or if those were developed catching them at a time when they were not strong enough to resist, (e.g., India & China). Then look at the genetic consequences. This is for starters. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 4 '18 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ I think this is an interesting question, but I hate that it (already has) attracted the worst sort of responses. There is almost a reason that soft science/culture questions never make it here. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 4 '18 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, "history is written by the victor." All that would happen, as it has in every case in human history, is that the culture of the (usually military) new group replaces the culture of the conquered people (the resulting hybrid culture strongly favoring the conquring culture). How much of the original culture remains depends on how accepting the new cuture is to change and how well the conqured can maintain their previous culture in competition with the new. There's neither magic nor mystery involved in this process. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 4 '18 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH actually, there are many examples of the conquered cultures replacing the conquerors culture, specially when the conquerors are more militarily oriented. German invaders of the Western Roman Empire, the Eastern Roman Empire taking a Greek culture, many factions of the Mongol Empire adapting Chinese, Persian, etc. cultures. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Jan 4 '18 at 21:05

What would this look like in terms of social structure, class division, genocide v. control of scarce female populations, polygamy v. monogamy, cultural and linguistic change, etc.?

Slavery of women, sexual and otherwise.

The premise that powerful men could slaughter all the males in another culture and capture all the females is entirely feasible; although the only reference to that I know of is a story of Moses going to war in the Old Testament, which may be legend, or a fictional exaggeration of an actual conquest. In that story, Moses kills all males (including infants and children) and all non-virginal females, and then gives away the remaining virginal females to his conquering soldiers as slaves (for sex or labor by the rules of the OT) as the spoils of war.

In general, the original social structure, and likely religion and culture, would collapse. To the women, the invaders would be men that just brutally murdered their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers and lovers, all the males they loved in any way. Probably their armies, political and religious leaders and police force, since in most cultures these fields are led primarily by males. (Also, historically, utter defeat of a people often causes their religion to decline and be abandoned. Not always, but with all males dead I would presume so.)

The new social structure would likely be males-in-charge and women as second class citizens, breed stock for the males. After all, that is how it began, and chances are high the women are coerced into sex and pregnancy just because they are the conquered victims, and as humans we can expect them to be unwilling participants after invaders have murdered every male they love. The invaders would be regarded as brutal monsters; and their crimes (from the women's POV) would never be forgiven; I doubt many could move emotionally from the hatred and grief they feel to fondness for the men that caused that. Perhaps those too young to understand what happened; e.g. age five or less, could be raised without the hatred and grief, but they won't be able to have children for nine or ten years. In the meantime, I presume any women past puberty would be raped, effectively sex slaves (and labor slaves) for the conquering males.

As far as linguistic changes, conquerors tend to force their language on the conquered. For example I believe (without research) that the primary language of American Indians is now English, and I have read that most of their children are no longer fluent in their native language, and some don't know any of it. The same is true of African slaves born into American's Slave South. Although it doesn't apply in this conquered scenario, even when voluntary migrants join a new culture, their descendants (children, grandchildren, etc) lose more of the native language every generation. (And as you can see even in modern America, many citizens here advocate for forcing migrants to become reasonably fluent in English.)

But that is as far as I think we can plausibly extend the analysis, the other questions have no answers.

As far as how these conquering males share the females, that will be quirks of their own culture and/or religion. They may be egalitarian and share them equally. They might assign women to men by lot. It may be meritorious. The conquerors may have some hierarchical order, by age or 'royalty' or scars in battle, so they make their selections in some hierarchical order among themselves. e.g. their King gets first pick.

They could also be either polygamous or monogamous. If there are many women conquered, polygamy would seem required to impregnate them all, if that is indeed what the men want to do (it might not be, the conquerers may not be in a big hurry to create many infant mouths to feed and protect).

Although I am not aware of a historical precedent for conquerors, we could even posit the fictional conquering men are not that possessive of women and do not closely track paternity. There is historical precedent in the 'hippie' and 'flower children' culture of the 1960's and 1970's, in which many young women were casually promiscuous and had enough sexual partners that paternity, when pregnancy resulted, was uncertain. To an extent this remains true today and many young men may be fathers without knowing it. The father of my sister's first child, which she bore at 15, never did know he fathered a child. So the fictional conquerors' society may be such that paternity is not important to them, and exclusivity or a permanent partner for sex is not considered desirable.

For an example (intended only as an illustration and without any endorsement by me), consider a brothel: Women are on display and men choose amongst them, pay for their services, have sex, and depart. If such women become pregnant, paternity is uncertain; many such women have intercourse multiple times a day and the father of a child could be one of dozens.

Such a coerced brothel model may be the cultural norm for the conquerors; so neither polygamous or monogamous. The children, after nursing to the age of two or so, could be separated into males and females, and the males then raised by men to be warriors (Spartan style), and the women raised to be either domestic labor or brothel residents.

All of which is offered to say this question is too broad in many respects. The conqueror's culture and social structure will generally prevail, including the fact that they go forth as an all male group and conquer! And kill all males when they do. Given that dynamic, the subjugation of women into coerced sex and labor seems inevitable to me, but a writer would be free to invent many alternative realities within that circle.

Response to first comment:

4000 million men, divided by 10 million men, is a 400:1 ratio. Note that military superiority is a given, for such a defeat, the means is not an issue in this question. With reference to human females, the ideal breeding age is about 15 to 30; 15 yrs in an average 75 yr lifespan, roughly 1/5 the females: Thus about 80 per conquering man. Many kings and emperors have had sex more often than daily, especially when young, a man could easily impregnate 80 women within a year, if desired.

However, the actual global population rate is about 1.1%. Eliminating living males, that would be 2.2% of the conquered females. If there were 4 billion such, the birth rate should be 88M children per year. Given 10M men, they each would need to father about 9 children per year in order to sustain the current population growth. That is about one per six weeks, which is entirely feasible. (In the USA, the population growth rate is only 0.7% annually, so it depends on the culture to a large extent).

As for a "fetishistic" focus on the subjugation of women, I find any such subjugation by gender or race repulsive, but I am also not in denial about the reality of the past of humanity, where such subjugation was common for nearly all cultures until the last few centuries, and often enshrined in law and religion. That was reality, and the further we get from it the better. Good riddance. This particular question asks about precisely that dynamic, the OP explicitly states his opinion that it happened, and asks if it did, what are the consequences?

Do not forget the nature of this forum, I do not need to cite any historical references to give my opinion of the logical consequences of some posited fictional scenario!

  • $\begingroup$ This is basically all speculation, tinged with an almost fetishistic interest in subjugation of women, especially in light of your woefully under-researched answers elsewhere. I don't see an iota of evidence from primary sources about the social interactions you propose here. Problem #1: there is no evidence that enough males could enter a society to completely replace the ones there. How do 10 million men from another planet replace 4 billion? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Jan 4 '18 at 13:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @kingledion Answered by edit. This is not a forum for debate. Yes, this is all speculation, and I am not required to provide evidence for my opinion on the evolution of the fictional setting given by the OP! And the OP, by the way, believes this scenario has occurred IRL and is asking for speculation on a scifi scenario! $\endgroup$ – Amadeus Jan 4 '18 at 15:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @kingledion a sufficiently advanced space faring race could create a biological weapon that attacks the male Y chromosome, thereby avoiding any damage to females and leaving a planet without men. They could also then through force of arms (robotically assisted) threaten/mind control/kidnap women to turn up to buildings where they are artificially inseminated. Hell, one human male with sufficiently advanced tech produces enough sperm to do the job. $\endgroup$ – Philbo Jan 4 '18 at 15:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Philbo - biologically speaking, a "virus" automatically inseminating all of a woman's eggs is... wrong on a whole host of levels. Viruses don't carry sufficient genetic information, gametes cannot be quickened without a corresponding haploid cell, unripened eggs cannot be inseminated... at this point, you're moving to "magic", rather than trying to put technical words around it. $\endgroup$ – jdunlop Jan 4 '18 at 18:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @jdunlop But the entire male genetic payload is far from necessary, is it? You need some calcium (in any form; simply injecting pure calcium works), you need some CRISPR type DNA to disable a few genes, and that's it. You don't need the X and Y chromosomes carried by sperm. I am not breaking any laws of biology, I am saying they can be hacked. As the article states, it is possible by remote chance. Which means engineering it is not impossible. Sperm has to navigate the vaginal canal; a bacterium does not necessarily have to do that at all. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus Jan 5 '18 at 3:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.