I guess as far as the social aspects of worldbuilding are concerned, pretty much anything goes but I'd still like to incorporate elements that aren't far-fetched in terms of real-world applicability.

So the society I'm working with is matrilineal but NOT matriarchal. Property is passed down on the female line and women dominate in their families and many crafts, therefore they hold a very prestigious status in society. In addition, their religion is centered around a sun goddess whose worship is so predominant that this belief system is basically semi-monotheistic (spirits, demigods and other divine beings are also worshipped but to a much smaller degree). In day to day life, men and women are seen as equal intellectually.

That being said, political power is concentrated in the hands of men: most government officials are male, the monarch himself is always a man and men are promoted faster. Furthermore, gender roles, albeit not too strict or rigid, do exist. However, that doesn't automatically dictate what professions women might dominate in, as gender roles are quite versatile across cultures, yet fishing is almost universally seen as a men's thing. So would it make sense for fishing to be a female-dominated occupation where women are not just fishwives but actually the ones partaking in the entire activity? Is there a real-world example of this?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not 100% sure so can only post it as a comment, but there are japanese women who are specialized in fishing. You can also think of the women fishing for crabs and shells in the tropical archipelagos, I guess $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2021 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ It looks like you're asking about the real world not about building a fictional world. Do you have a specific question about the world you're building, instead of a request for examples of something in the real world? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 2, 2021 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ Not clear what you mean by "fishing". Traditional Japanese female pearl divers are well known, as, for example, Ian Fleming's Kissy Suzuki. If you mean fishing as going to sea in small boats and hauling big heavy nets full of fish, that's men's job as men are both stronger and expendable. In a premodern world women are precious; no sane society will assign them to very dangerous jobs, because that would risk its own future. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jun 2, 2021 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ @sphennings According to the help centre, asking for real-world examples to help with a particular history for a world is on topic. This meta post linked in the help centre also specifically states that real-world questions are on-topic as long as they help to build one's world. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Jun 2, 2021 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ I think it's better as a comment than an answer: women have done pretty demanding jobs throughout history on a regular basis. Especially in times of need the gender roles fade and you do what you need to do. Often it isn't about what they can do, but culture. Culture is fluid, so fishing can be easily dominated by women if there's a cultural reason for it. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 2, 2021 at 18:33

3 Answers 3


Women were involved in fishing in a few Tasmanian Aboriginal communities and referenced here as well, but I don't know if they where the main fisherpeople. But they where the predominant divers for shellfish.

hopefully that helps


Fish while Knitting.

In many pre-industrial societies, one of the main activities done by women was making clothes for their family by hand. When you spend hours and hours every day knitting or weaving, it limits the other activities you can do. You can of course do other household chores during the day. But you cannot combine with something like Deer stalking or training horses, since the textile work requires one to stay in one place.

It makes sense for the women to do most of the fishing, if the particular style of fishing doesn't require much moving around. For example the fish are always in the same place, and the main job is to put out the lines and then wait (often for hours or days) for the fish to bite. In the meanwhile they carry on with the task of making clothes.

From a stereotypical point of view, if men are seen as hunters and women as gatherers, then this style of fishing is closer to gathering than hunting, since it involves only time and no special amount of talent. Not something young men will want to compete at to show they are better than all the other young men.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jun 3, 2021 at 14:52

Warlike culture. In society where men usually go to war for long periods of time you Would probably see woman Take over a lot of day to day jobs that were normally done by fathers and husbands. You could set up your Society To be Similar to the iron born from a song of ice and fire the men go out each season to raid and woman stay behind providing for the families usually by fishing.

If you don't want to make them warlike substitute war for trade have your men go on seasonal long business trips To buy and sell goods leaving their fisherwives behind to provide for their family in their absence.


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