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How would gender roles differ in a species that is similar to humans in everything (i.e. IQ, gender ratio, etc.), except that instead of being 30%-40% stronger men are 2-3 times stronger than women? This is akin to polar bears.

How much political power could women have (voting, inheritance, holding office) before the advent of modern guns?

Will the increased dimorphism be likely to make genders less equal, more equal or will it not have much difference?

An image just for illustration, sourced from Gears of War wikia: Anya Stroud from Gears of  War wikia

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, James, JDługosz, Mindwin, Mołot Sep 30 '16 at 0:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Especially once the super-strong male gun manufacturers make the weapons too heavy for women to carry. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Sep 29 '16 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ You should properly attribute the picture $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Sep 29 '16 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ Regardless; having men be so much physically stronger would likely have stunted civilization growth. The great apes are much stronger than humans, and that strength means they don't have to evolve clever ways of doing things. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Ford Sep 29 '16 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Platypus Notably, child abuse also already exists. Because it is behavioral, it is not appropriate to relate it as a function of physical strength. To put it another way, an abuser does not abuse simply because they are strong - we know this because there are plenty of strong people who don't. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Ford Sep 29 '16 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ Biological features like strength aren't generally free. There is an energy cost to them. I think in the absence of an environmental motive force, humans would evolve back to a state of relatively similar strength. $\endgroup$ – kojiro Sep 29 '16 at 22:22
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i don't think it would make any difference at all. a 30-40% strength advantage is absolutely devastating in 1-on-1 combat. 100-300% is simply overkill. women had very little political power until the "rule of law" took hold. after which, their relative physical strength was virtually irrelevant.

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Let us suppose that males are much larger and stronger. That does happen in certain social mammals; for example Gorillas or Elephant Seals. This suggests that the male get large to compete with each other for mates and keep a harem.

Society would develop from hunter gatherer bands with one large male, and several to many smaller females. Smaller weaker males would be pushed out to roam on their own, or in nomadic bachelor tribes. Sooner or later, the strongest from a bachelor tribe, or perhaps a coalition of males would challenge the nearest chieftain/alpha/silverback and win, replacing him and taking his harem. Doesn't sound like the women have much choice.

But lets fast forward to the iron age. With a 20:1 ratio of females to males, and with the male's sole job being to fight and screw, the women will be doing all the farming, crafting, and inventing. Soon, their inventions will outpace the power of the single male. What if 10 women with iron spears, bows, and armor challenge a large male without? Sounds like the women will win.

The women could band together in tribe or villages of hundreds, and would chase off any incursion by nomadic males. They grew up without many males around, why would they want some around now? They would only keep as many men around as they decided were necessary for procreation. In this sort of society, I don't think it would even take until the firearms age until the women, by virtue of their technological progress, take full control of their society.

To me it seems like very large sexually competitive males is the perfect recipe for a matriarchal society.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea, but I don't think it works. Humans cooperate to rid themselves of the bullies, that's why from what I read the hunter gatherer bands are quite egalitarian. Stratification developed later. Also gender ratio is close to equal quora.com/Why-is-the-human-population-roughly-50-50-male-female $\endgroup$ – Platypus Sep 29 '16 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ Right, gender ratio is equal, but if the males are big and aggressive, then they will kill each other off. Gender births are equal in lions, but only 1 in 8 male lions make it to adulthood. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Sep 29 '16 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Hunter gatherers were egalitarian because there was evolutionary advantage to cooperate. That is because males and females formed (mostly) monogamous couples. However, if that was your society, then your males would be the size they are today...there is no evolutionary reason for your males to get so big. If you want males to get so big, they must fight over harems. That is a characteristic common to all mammals with much larger male than females. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Sep 29 '16 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ Wow. This is really interesting! I was answering as you posted. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Sep 29 '16 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure that the females would need to keep a few males around for err... breeding purposes. And they would have a fairly strong drive to procreate, given that their genes are only passed on through their children. $\endgroup$ – Stephen Sep 30 '16 at 0:21
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There's two ways I can see it going:

Much the same or slightly worse.

OR

Surprisingly Women are seen as the brains and are in charge. Men might be less bright because the development of all that strength may sacrifice other attributes. Such a striking difference in strength and likely size, will lead to other changes. Women could be the strategic generals because of it. Protected, like a King on a chessboard. Kings out of all the pieces on the chess board can't move much, but they are the piece you protect. It's possible that men won't have the ability to do fine work either, and will sacrifice dexterity for it as well. (I am not talking about the dodging and running kind of dexterity, I am talking about the kind a craftsperson needs). That much strength can't be added without drawbacks.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd just like to point out that you don't have to sacrifice dexterity for strength. A tiger is larger and stronger than you. It is also quicker than you. I would guess that a gorilla (like the ones from Gears of War) is stronger and quicker than any human as well. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Sep 29 '16 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ I am not talking about "fine dexterity" which a tiger does not have. Back in the olden days they used children for fine dexterity tasks because by and large smaller hands mean finer work. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Sep 29 '16 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ Ok. Is Peter Dawkins an individual? Tigers can't do fine work. They are best at leaping and such but they rarely knit or crochet. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Sep 29 '16 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ @ErinThursby Dexterity is good catch, even now in garments industry woman are preferred because they're in general much better for work requiring fine motor skills. I doubt about IQ, if they're larger there would be more neurons, seems that brain size is neutral or positively correlated en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_and_intelligence $\endgroup$ – Platypus Sep 29 '16 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Platypus Women are preferred in the garment industry because they are more easily coerced into doing repetitive manual labor for little or no pay in countries with putrid human rights like Vietnam or Bangladesh. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Sep 29 '16 at 18:44

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