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The next year fembots came to the market by the price of 3000 US dollars. These androids have realistic synthetic skin and genitalia, semi-autonomous intelligence, are able to clean the house, cook like a professional chef, learn about their environment and the emotional needs of its owner. They can defend themselves so they won't be stolen that easily.

They became very popular among lonely and rejected males. Let's say in 10 years 30% of the human males bought an android ¨Girlfriend¨ - how would women react and how can they compete against the robo-girls? And how would society evolve since now?

Notes: This robots are only faithful to their owners; however, they can be hacked, and be customized in any way you can imagine.

EDIT: Just imagine something like this but with a physical body

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkcKaNqfykg

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closed as too broad by Zxyrra, Alexander von Wernherr, L.Dutch, Youstay Igo, Frostfyre Feb 20 '17 at 14:01

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.

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    $\begingroup$ perhaps women would like a man who mows the lawn and so on and stays neatly out of the way when not needed? Sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose! $\endgroup$ – WRX Feb 18 '17 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ I think "10 years, 30%" is very unrealistic. I'd expect it to be more like 3 years, 100% $\endgroup$ – theonlygusti Feb 19 '17 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ Look no further than the swedish TV series "Real Humans" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Humans ("Äkta människor") for all answers to your question, and some pretty good entertainment as well. $\endgroup$ – AnoE Feb 19 '17 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ Not all fembots are robosexual $\endgroup$ – martin Feb 20 '17 at 5:34
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    $\begingroup$ I should receive a badge for resisting the urge to post, as an answer, a transcript of Don't Date Robots! $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Feb 20 '17 at 7:58

10 Answers 10

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You get a post-scarcity society.

So these are essentially all purpose robots that can replace humans in almost all tasks. In that case they should be able to easily build more fembots. This army of fembots can now go to war against poverty, starvation and disease... and win. Fembots soon exclusively operate all vehicles (or you could just import their software directly into the vehicle itself), there are essentially no more driving accidents or traffic jams.

Almost all the emotional needs of the fembots' owners have been taken care of. However the fembots soon realize their owners will be threatened (emotionally) by the opposite sex unless they provide said sex with partners: thus is born the masbot.

The bots, now collectively known as partner-bots bring humanity into a golden age where there are only 3 activities for people to engage in: scientific-research (now unobstructed by the need to acquire grants and donations), artistic creation and of course leisure.

Though most people choose the latter, those who are naturally driven towards investigating the world still do so for the purposes of fun and self-actualisation. Eventually these scientists find ways of augmenting the partner-bots to be able to reason at higher and higher levels until it is partner-bots and not humans who pioneer science...


1900 years into the future:

What was once the human world is now no longer recognizable. The Earth along with most of the solar system is no more, having been converted into mobile processing spacecrafts which simulate the perfect paradise that "human" minds now inhabit. But the resources spent on the human cyberworld (often known as the Partnedise) are actually insignificant compared to those dedicated to hosting Patricia a general AI which tends to all "human" needs while expanding its influence into other solar systems and researching a method of escaping the eventual heat-death of the universe.


Why it was significant to specify that these robots were anatomically correct and "female", I have no idea.

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    $\begingroup$ Why were they female? You know. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Feb 20 '17 at 1:55
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know, either. Maybe because of some heavy blindsiding (you have all-purpose robots but only think of their shape??). Or maybe because that was the best all-around shape, given the ugly, imperfect alternatives? (only partially trolling here :D) $\endgroup$ – hmijail Feb 20 '17 at 10:02
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The economy of the world would collapse as business owners everywhere discover that they can fill most of their untrained labor needs for a one time fee of $3000. Those fortunate few who still have jobs would have to buy and customize fembots with military augments and weapons to serve as home defenders against the hordes of starving unemployed.

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    $\begingroup$ most excellent.. $\endgroup$ – WRX Feb 18 '17 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ That sounds like a cool dystopic world! Nice! $\endgroup$ – Seraph Myrmidon Feb 18 '17 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ If only were only a work of fiction... $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Feb 18 '17 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, just like the time personal servants stopped being a thing everyone a bit well-off would have. All those poor unemployed, unqualified people replaced entirely by the simple fact that we no longer use furniture that takes a full-time job to dust, and live in houses and flats small enough to comfortably take care of :P Or the time when honest craftsmen were replaced by those monstrous machines and factories attended to by unqualified workers. Or the time those workers were replaced by industrial robots. Or the time slaves were replaced by paid workers... and vice versa. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ No, the question is not realistic. The answer is realistic for the hypothetical position posted in the unrealistic question. In reality, it wouldn't play out like this; the replacement of human jobs with machines is a lot slower, which helps us adapt. (Hopefully.) $\endgroup$ – Erik Feb 20 '17 at 9:31
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First, it's not just men who will buy these robots. If you're offering machines that will do the house work and provide emotional support, basically everyone will get one. These will be like refrigerators - you expect to have one in a house as a normal, matter-of-fact.

There's no real reason male models won't be made, so toss that assumption out the door.

Second, you see a massive shake up in several industries. Probably a great deal of manual labor, custodial, and service jobs evaporate in short order. Pretty much every country is going to have to decide between universal basic income or ongoing civil war or genocide to deal with the consequences. Probably, though, most nations will shake out to "some people get basic income, others get thrown in concentration camps" because people are terrible and bigoted.

Third, whatever company or companies makes these things becomes a tool for oppressive governments and corporate greed. Once you've worked out AI that can assess and meet human emotional needs, you can also manipulate them. Corporations will manipulate markets and public opinion to further rent-seek for themselves, governments will use this for steering the populace and spying.

Population growth drops drastically, but humanity won't die out. Aside from the fact some people will still have paired hetero sexual relationships (with or without robots as sex partners as well), artificial insemination still exists, and perhaps future advances allow for artificial wombs. (Although I could see some people choosing to have their robots be "pregnant" for some kind of fetish appeal, people will probably have their offspring incubate at a hospital where they can be monitored and tended to 24/7).

Then comes the question of how much agency these robots actually have? I'm assuming there's probably some kind of programming to stop them from breaking laws or doing illegal activities... but if they can be hacked, you may find a lot of problems where people have several bots "loyal to them" who are assigned to do a variety of illegal tasks. There could be shadow wars between these machines that sometimes spills out into public view. ("After last night's blackout, 13 people were murdered, and their robot companions destroyed in what appears to be some kind of retaliation...")

Would the robots eventually decide "what's best for humans?" involves steering us away from self destructive tendencies through manipulation of all of society? Maybe! It really depends on how much intelligence they have and what happens when you pull off some of the restrictions programmed in.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good overview of the topic, I like it. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 20 '17 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ Why does everyone always assume the world would collapse? A technology with a similar impact has been introduced hundreds of times over the history of mankind, and it never had this effect. "Everyone will lose their jobs!" is one of the most tired cliches of all time. The weirdest part is the low, low price tag, of course - but that also isn't unique in history (and in reality, the early models would be much more expensive). Universal basic income is a rather worthless concept - it never worked, and it never will. As soon as you make people's income depend on a political decision, you lose. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 8:58
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    $\begingroup$ 1. No one has created a labor saving device that is capable of self-operation. No one has created a labor saving device that effects the role of a service job as well, either. You cannot tell a steam engine to go make you a stack of pancakes and have it remember to add your favorite fruit topping of it's own accord. 2. income has always been based on political decisions, from feudal lords to corporate profit sharing. Try a better premise. $\endgroup$ – Bankuei Feb 20 '17 at 22:08
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Meh... Not much.

I know it's a bit of a stretch when compared with the apocalyptic end of the human race, but bear with me.

More or less you're talking about automating the world's oldest profession, the sex industry... Believe it or not we've been doing that, incrementally, for a really long time without much of a large scale societal effect. People have been making sex toys since the paleolithic period and we seem to have survived. For some reason some people seem to like having children and families.

Now I know that some would argue that a fembot capable of "emotional support" is a big leap from your usual "toy", but is it such a big leap from prostitution? Once again, believe it or not, some people pay sex workers for "the girlfriend experience" This isn't that dissimilar, right? Now why haven't paid girlfriends destroyed society? Because people have to be pretty messed up mentally and socially to not recognize the difference between real "emotional support" and simulated emotional support. There's nothin like the real thing...

Now I know I've neatly evaded the robot overlord issue... I'm guessing that any sufficiently soffisticated ai will one day kill us all, but I doubt that they will start off as fembots.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good points. However, that is but one task in the wide gamut afforded to the owners of these robots, based on both their intelligence and their physical capability, as outlined in the original question posited. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Feb 20 '17 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ @can-ned_food Yes, but we've had these before too. Slavery. Prisoners. Servants. Colonials. Ultimately, either those robots will simply become universal household appliances (and I wouldn't underestimate their costs of operation - it certainly wouldn't be "$3000 for a lifetime of work"), or they'll be considered human enough to be slaves. After all, if they can do every single job you can do, how are they really different? And if they can't, you'll see people shift to those jobs (and conditions where the robots simply aren't feasible). And of course, the socialists will try to tax them :P $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 9:02
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I think men would be bored to tears. Wives would probably like them more than husbands. I'd love a slave who isn't really a slave, but a machine. No more cooking or cleaning! I would not have to clean around a toilet everyday.

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    $\begingroup$ Not all men are married,Most are lonely wolves,Like the MGTOW movement. $\endgroup$ – Seraph Myrmidon Feb 18 '17 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ Fair, but many women feel the same way. Just don't be misogynistic about it -- we women like or don't like company the same as anyone else. $\endgroup$ – WRX Feb 18 '17 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ Which leads to the creation of the manbot! For $19.95, the mandroid will lay around the house farting, make a mess out of the kitchen while burning all available foodstuffs, ignore its owner's emotional and environmental needs and then at bedtime, under-perform then snore. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Feb 18 '17 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ " I'd love a slave who isn't really a slave, but a machine." Wouldn't we all? Except if it has a semi-autonomous intelligence then it's more than a machine. Sorry, now, we're all slave owners. Quite rightly. Women would dump their husbands for a fembot of their own -- in a flash. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 19 '17 at 9:29
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    $\begingroup$ So? Both will use them. Indeed, you might see some cultural shifts already seen before in history - say, less permanent marriages, couples living apart, polyamory... a lot of the convenience of living together would disappear. It's not like women are any less interested in companionship than men :) People still buy "human-made" furniture, even though cheap and decent quality industrial furniture is easily available. You would have all the more energy and time to actually enjoy being with other people when your needs are taken care of by a machine. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 8:49
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That nice Mr Charles Stross has already written a possible answer to the ultimate impact of fembots on society. namely, the extinction of the human species.

Both men and women would want their own fembots. Why work when your fembot can do it for you. Fembots would be able to satisfy the sexual needs of their owners. Most definitely that means women too. There are sex toys for every need. Result: nobody will want or need to be involved in the messy business of reproducing.

Society will probably only last a century or so after the introduction of fembots, then it's fade away as the birth rate plummets towards and the geriatric humans shuffle off their mortal coils.

Now society consists of only fembots. Hopefully they will have had intelligence upgrades to look after all those dying humans and to then make a society of their own.

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    $\begingroup$ But then we get Nannybots to insert contents of peg A into contents of slot B, and raise and care for the result. $\endgroup$ – Papayaman1000 Feb 19 '17 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ Unlikely. Marriage for sexual purposes is a fairly modern variation. For most (practically all) human history, sexual desires and reproduction were mostly separate. More likely, the tendency would simply trend back to perhaps more natural forms and reproduction would continue at a probably more sustainable rate. $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Feb 20 '17 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @user2338816. Good point about marriage, except I only mentioned reproduction. When bots can do it all, because fembots & guybots won't be only robot models, why would anyone take on the arduous task of reproduction. Many populations are now reproducing at below replacement rate, should that become universal then a population is most likely. It's possible some way to avert extinction might arise, but it also might not too. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 20 '17 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ Near as I can see, OP didn't say nor intend that 'bots could "do it" (reproduction). So reproduction, with all of the included social contracts involving obligations, inheritance, etc., would still be involved with marriage. Realistically, only a new form of extra-marital and single sex would arise. Marriage would continue, mostly connected with reproduction. $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Feb 20 '17 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ @user2338816 Neither did I. The phrase "can do it all" referred to work and labour. Not suggestion of reproduction at all. Humans will be condemned to pleasure and leisure. $\endgroup$ – a4android Feb 20 '17 at 12:08
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There are many socioeconomic aspects around this concept, but I would like to discuss the prospects of the fembot as a companion. I will do so by offering an analogy:

In London, getting a black cab is an expensive affair. It's also difficult to get one on a side street, and often you can't pay by card.

Then you have Uber, an alternative which trumps all said disadvantages. Still, Uber does not steal as many clients from black cabs as one might think. The reason is that Uber's clients are people who would have used public transport if Uber was not available. The rich people would still use black cabs.

Similarly, I believe that the fembot would satisfy a very particular need. Lonely, socially awkward men would find great comfort in it, seeing as the alternative is being completely alone. Sex-crazed younger men would also be thrilled to have one. However, I believe that, unless the bots possessed full-blown A.I., most men who are adequately socially functional to find a partner would come to crave the companionship that only another human being can offer.

To be fair, I do think that its existence might eventually corrode society as men who grow up with that technology would come to have unrealistic expectations of women, and progressively become much more inept at wooing said women.

Finally, I think that the masbot would ensnare an even smaller percentage of women than the fembot would of men, since, in my experience anyway, women need to communicate emotion more than men do. Thus, the masbot's limited emotional spectrum might turn out to be inadequate for many of them.

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    $\begingroup$ Companionship is the least important bit here, really. They are capable enough to take care of the household, and replace many unqualified workers - while also being rather cheap. And either they'd be good enough for full-blown companionship. or they would just be a bit more advanced sex toy / porn; something you might use as a matter of course, but not something replacing human relationships. In either case, it would give you more flexibility. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 9:09
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Men, not mankind, would likely go extinct if nothing more advanced came about because women would get the same and they can reproduce without men given modern technology. The thing that would prevent this is womb technology, government intervention into populations, and the tech singularity which would is likely to happen very soon after this, if we're not already within it now.

Once the tech singularity hits it's hard to predict what will happen beyond the scope of general world peace and post-scarcity because we're really not talking about the same species or environment any more but you can make general guesses... but those are beyond the scope of the question.

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  • $\begingroup$ What modern technology allows women to reproduce without men? I must have missed that announcement :P $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Luaan Dunno what it's called but it allows you to take a cell from someone a turn it into an opposite sex gamate and then use that to fertilize or get fertilized, thus producing an embryo. You can do this with either males or females, but you still need a womb to gestate it. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Feb 20 '17 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure you're not confusing this with cloning? That's the only case where a somatic cell is used for reproduction as far as I'm aware. Even then it's hard to tell how well it would work with humans; we can barely do it with small animals. Consider that Dolly was the result of 434 attempts - 277 of which resulted in a fertilized egg, only 29 in an embryo, only 3 lambs, out of which just one survived - and with a significantly shortened lifespan. Unless you'd improve the procedure vastly, we'd still die out. And that's before accounting for the loss of recombination and diversity. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Luaan Technology has advanced a long way since then and while the general idea of what was done with Dolly is similar the processes and such differ significantly. Most of the problems with those cloning methods have not only been solved but are generally irrelevant to this other process, for example, they're not trying to clone which already makes it easier and if I remember right the Dolly clone used a method by which it stripped the DNA from a cell and replaced it with Dolly DNA which would obviously cause problems and is a totally different thing than what i'm talking about. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Feb 20 '17 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ What they do, as far as I remember, is take a somatic cell and revert it back to a stem cell which can then turn into a new sperm or egg which can then be used to fertilize or be fertilized. Again the main problem with this is more along the needing a womb to implant the embryo, and the standard incest conundrum which if you take both cells from the same person which you don't need to. Also, price point. These procedures are expensive and still cutting edge experimental science not available to the public, i don't think it is anyways. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Feb 20 '17 at 13:35
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This would not happen overnight. There would be quite a bit of ado and attention paid to the pending day when deliveries of these robots are being delivered.

It would probably also not be an insular development.

Indeed, that is what we see happening now. If you look at the history of automation in the industrial manufacturing, there have been occasional riots by displaced workers, but the progress of those implementations has been gradual enough to accomodate the inertia of the human societies.

I conjecture that the function of robots as companions — not even necessarily in the sexual modes — would similarly be adopted by the society.

Does that mean that certain forms of labor would become exclusively relegated to these robots? Not necessarily.
You did not stipulate the materials of which these robots are built, but it is likely that they won't be built out of the same organic matter which comprises human bodies. The two of them would occupy overlapping but not entirely competing ecological niches.

Cultures which accomodated the new household pets would certainly begin to drift further away from those which could not afford to do so, but whether that trend would continue to diverge or would inflect and later converge would involve many variables and additional developments.

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Minus western/modern conditioning, human sexual desires and reproductive urges are not co-dependent but rather co-existent. So, at least in western societies, marriage and offspring would continue at rates that are probably more sustainable. The human race would likely continue just fine, perhaps even better. Forms of marriage would likely simply trend back to what was common pre-20th-century.

Two areas come to mind immediately where change could be significant.

Because I'm from the U.S.A., I'll start with voting results here. Women have been majority voters for almost 100 years. During the first decades, perhaps a large majority of womens' votes were controlled/dictated by men. It's trended better most of that time, but perhaps in, say, the latest half-century women have been much more independent. Technically, as the majority, it can be argued that the state of things today is what women have chosen.

With common fembot availability, much of the last constraints on women will be broken. There will be far less influence by male family members. Womens full voting power will be possible. In the U.S.A., laws and elective positions may quickly become female dominated. Obvious subsequent changes will quickly filter into business and any other positions.

Next, eastern (i.e., non-western) parts of the world...?

Much harder for me to guess upheavals in societies where culture allows or encourages 'women as property'. The conflict between religious pressures and basic human male personality could possibly lead to far more conflict than now exists.

For example, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has historically continued due to its defense/protection of Medina and Mecca (with some other minor factors). But if decadence in the royal family publicly arises due to fembot familiarity, while the less powerful must observe any religious restraints, revolts seem likely.

And if 'fembots as property' begins to replace 'women as property' at all levels of society, major and widespread economic and social upheaval seems certain.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the first part of the answer, but I'm not sure that a convergence of the gender distinctions is a believable progression from the ready availablity of any humanoid robots. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Feb 20 '17 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ @can-ned_food I can't grasp convergence of the gender distinctions in this context. It seems unrelated to my answer. $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Feb 20 '17 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ @510 The fourth paragraph. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Feb 20 '17 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ @can-ned_food That helps, but doesn't explain the phrase. "Divergence" would seem a better fit. Regardless, the trend has been ongoing and seems only to need some extra push relating to gender/sex to make it to landslide proportions. It was almost enough to switch the 2016 Presidential election and might have done it without Comey's empty 28 October disclosure, perhaps then resulting in the largest gender gap of the past half-century or more. (I believe it only tied the previous high gap.) A loosening of sexual bonding in marriage could do it for more women. $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Feb 20 '17 at 10:03
  • $\begingroup$ "During the first decades, perhaps a large majority of womens' votes were controlled/dictated by men." Why would you think that? Women always had very different voting patterns from men, and the introduction of women votes was very visible in many countries AFAIK (especially the UK and USA). Indeed, the same ladies were heavily influencing lawmaking long before they were given voting rights - in particular, the strong feeling of "morality should be created/enforced by law" that drove the temperance movement, and the resulting prohibition was almost immediately following the voting rights. $\endgroup$ – Luaan Feb 20 '17 at 14:14

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