In this world, humans have a strange way of reproducing. When partners decide to conceive, A female must be inseminated at specified intervals by a male in order to pass on her genes. However, males don't pass on their genes, but bits of their spirit. When enough of these pieces of spirit is collected, it coalesces into a soul. Spirit can come from a single male or various ones with no connection to each other. Through this method, a developing child is slowly "built" with the material of one man, or the makeup of several different men. Because of this, most children will have many different fathers.

Patrilineality is a common kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is recorded through their father's lineage. This is normally how position and inheritance is decided in history. It generally involves the inheritance of property, rights, names or titles by persons related through male kin. In this case, the genes of the "fathers" are not passed on. Therefore, society falls along matrilineal lines, as it is simpler to identify the single parent.

What can various biological fathers contribute through their spirit to add to their childs' makeup to make patrilineal lines relevant?

  • $\begingroup$ Inspired by anglerfish? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ I'd like to see this question narrowed as to be answerable, it's an oddball that deserves to be explored, but too broad in it's current form. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ Please define the meaning of the phrases "patrilineal line" in the hypothetical world. Only if the meaning is defined can an answer to the question be sought. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Mar 13, 2020 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ Humans used to believe that two or more men could contribute to the genes of a person,& that the mother contributed no genes. Thus the legendary Frankish leader Merovech (Meroveus) was supposed to be half human, with half of his genes from the human father Clodio, half from the river giant in the shape of a bull who raped Clodio's wife, & no genes from Clodio's wife. Continued. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Incognito Continued. There are many imaginative genealogies tracing alleged descendants of Merovech to the royal family of Troy, which wouldn't matter if Merovech didn't get any genes from Clodio. jstor.org/stable/43444173?seq=1 So humans who believed a person could have two or more fathers tended to trace their ancestry from the higher ranking one. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2020 at 18:49

4 Answers 4


Males would still exhibit the possessive behaviors toward females that they do in this world. Having a female who only mates with one male during the time that the child is built will pass on far more of that male's genes then a child who has many fathers. Therefore males will attempt to gain exclusive access to females. Since the child only has one father, or at least since most of the genes come from one father, that father will recognize the value of providing the child with any benefits that he can.


Let's look at this from an evolutionary psychology perspective

If we take the evolutionary psychology perspective and try to fathom out what effect this will have on individual psychology, and thus society. Our current patriarchal system is a product of the uncertainty of male parentage.

There's evolutionary advantage in not being faithful for both sexes as there's potential for better genetic fitness with a different partner, or at least hedging your bets against genetic conditions. For women, there is certainty that any effort to raise children directly benefits their genes regardless of the faithfulness of their partner. However, there's significant evolutionary advantage for a male to make sure their mate is faithful as it ensures that any effort put in to raise children directly benefits their genes being passed on. This little quirk is responsible for a decent chunk of our history and culture.

Your system tweaks this a bit. There would still be evolutionary advantage in males ensuring female faithfulness, but it wouldn't be quite so absolute. So long as a male mates with a female at least once during their conception, a small proportion of their genes would be passed along. This is similar to the situation in human siblings and cousins. One of the drivers behind the cohesion of the 'family unit' is that everyone in it has a moderate degree of relatedness to each other. An aunt can ensure survival of a proportion of her genes by aiding their nieces and nephews.

So if that's the general model, a lot of new strategies now become more viable. It's likely that matriarchies would be more likely to occur as you can do shared parentage much more easily, as would polyandry. However, there would still be competition between men to ensure the maximum amount of their genes is passed on in any given child.

I'm not sure which would play out as most successful (which probably means that there will be lots of different strategies happening).

Option 1: The Genghis Model

I think it's likely that many cultures would end up with a sort of reversal of Genghis Khan's system of succession. Genghis Khan had hundreds of wives, but had one primary wife Börte. Only the sons of Börte were in the line of succession.

Powerful female leaders would likely have a harem of men, but could have one principle husband. It's likely that a system would develop where the principle husband would provide the first lot of genetic information, or at least if he was involved at any point, that would determine the line if succession.

It's likely that there would be variations on this model in different cultures and over different time periods, with more or less emphasis put on the principle husband.

Option 2: Polyandry/Shared Parentage

Another strategy female elites could take is true polyandry, taking advantage of shared parentage. 'Shared parentage' occurs in real life by taking advantage of the uncertainty of male parentage. If a female can mate with a number of males during the conception period, then there is uncertainty over who is the true father and a system can be set up by which all males provide resources in case the child is theirs.

This is a bit of a precarious system as it's dependent on a number of things, including the males not working out (or just believing they have worked out) who the actual father is. This is one of the reasons it's rare in human cultures.

However, if all of the males truly can contribute some genetic material to a child then this system would be much more stable, and thus more likely to occur. There would still be significant politicking around ostensibly 'equal' males trying to contribute more of their genes to a given child, but it's still more viable than in humans.

Option 3: Good Ol' Patriarchy

As the evolutionary pressure to ensure maximum gene transfer to the next generation is still there, it's likely that partiarchy as a model will still be common. I haven't yet decided whether it would be stricter or looser as a rule.

On the one hand, males have a greater pressure to guard their mates. They don't only have to guard them during a relatively small window of conception, but throughout the whole pregnancy. This would drive a lot more of the 'locked away in towers/chastity belt' sort of behaviour. There's also a much stronger drive for partnered females to be just a little bit unfaithful as the addition of a little bit of third party genetic material would greatly benefit their child's fitness. Due to this, females (especially partnered ones) would likely be more promiscuous which would require even closer guarding by men to prevent.

On the other hand, the risk of raising someone else's child is much less absolute. Even if a female is unfaithful, so long as they're not 100% faithful there will still be some benefit to a male putting resources into raising them. This would reduce the fear of unfaithfulness somewhat.

I expect you'd find most patriarchies to be less strict than in human history, and a few that are much stricter.


Wealth and status

Patriarchy bloodlines (or maybe spiritlines?) are a way to stablish an inheritance system in a world where mothers have the advantage of their offspring. As such, males in this society regard in high value children fathered by a single person, working as the firstborn in Earth's societies, being able to carry on the family name, wealth and status. Families regard “pure borns” in high value, and will pursuit actively in having at least one, doing shady things like locking away the female until the child is born, securing a single fatherhood.


Memory Passing, Reincarnation

When the male decides to mate with a woman, males may inject parts of their unique memories into their spirit, and pass this piece of spirit into the woman. They can pick which memories to share, and how much of their spirit to give.

By mating with the same woman multiple times, the male is given a chance to inject more and more memories and characteristics of himself into the creation of the child. This can include his experiences, skills, and even, deadly secrets.

Theoretically speaking, if the male exhausts almost all of his spirit in the creation of the child with the woman, the child can be seen as a resurrection; he will inherit the genes of the woman, but inherit the memories of the father.

Patri-lineage of Skills and Memories

Patrilineality is a common kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is recorded through their father's lineage. This is normally how position and inheritance is decided in history. It generally involves the inheritance of property, rights, names or titles by persons related through male kin.

In this case, Patrilineage would mostly consist of spirit (memories), and name. Due to the ability for males alone to share their spirit down their lines, male lines would be capable of propagating memories as an inheritance and property.

Patrilineality in Spirit, The Ritual of Return

You could say that the inheritance of the spirit itself is representative of the patrilineality. By inheriting the memories of the fathers, the child is able to gain an advantage over others. If their father was especially gifted with certain jobs, or talents, they could pass these skills along to the child, although they would lose it themselves. The father could leave a part of his most useful skills, to entice the child, as well. They could also pass down a portion of the memories that were given to them by their father, grandfather, and so on.

Something that can happen to guarantee a degree of Patrilineality would be the succession of the child from the father. In cases where the child is created from the spirits of many fathers, the child's life will be dictated and influenced by the spirits and memories of its fathers.

Not only that, in the case of children with powerful Matrilineal lines, the women have more choice over what men to mate with, and the men would wish to have the children return to them and recognize them as the father.

Thus, there would definitely arise a ritual of some sort, let us term as the 'Ritual of Return'. The Ritual content would be the child, formally recognizing his father, who will accept the child into his family, and pass down the complete part of his own formal inheritance, if he had given only part of it before. The child, would then accept the father's name as part of their own name. As a gesture of the ties between them, the mother's family would also pass down a sort of child-dowry to the father, and accept the father into the family.

Fathers who have no property, would naturally wish to gain the recognition of a powerful Matrilineal line, who owns physical properties. The competition between the fathers in donating more Spirit and precious memories, to compete for the acceptance of a Matrilineal line, would thus be very fierce. By encouraging this competition, the most powerful matrilineal families would ensure the quality of their children, with heavily abundant spirit and the most precious memories.


To summarize, the role that patrilineal lines play in a child's life is the inheritance and influence of various spirits, memories, and skills from their father(s). This stays relevant because the matrilineal lines would encourage such inheritances to guarantee the quality of their children in spirit and skill.

These skills and memories would influence a child's life forever, and in the case of the males, extremely powerful skills, talents, and memories can be passed down generation to generation due to the spiritual nature of mating.


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