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Some background information on the setting:

Religion: God is thought of to have dual sides that symbolize male and female virtues. The female portion represents logic, stability, intelligence and control. The ability to access magic was given to her as a symbol of her divine authority. She is called to lead and guide the community in the right path according to God's will. The male side represents passion, courage, honor and emotion. Men are called to protect and defend God's creation and to be its molders and shapers. Only by working together can a balanced social harmony in society be achieved.

Magic: Science and Technology revolve around magic and are used to create a form called magitech. This magic is present in all walks of society. Runes for growing crops, unlimited energy sources that power machinery, teleportals for transportation and alchemy are just some ways magitech is used in daily life. Although everyone has access to magitech, only women can access it directly and create it. Although powerful, magic is limited in significant ways. It is slow, complex and intense requiring much concentration and skill. Attack magic is a rare and specialized field.

One simple way magic is used extends to a woman's biology. All females have the natural inborn ability to control their reproductive functions. They can choose when to get pregnant and can speed up, slow down or pause the rate of gestation. Pregnancy is easy on a woman's body and children usually survive to adulthood. Women who have given birth have access to the strongest magics. Birth fundamentally changes women into a higher being, giving them a higher understanding of magic by being one with the force of creation.

Government: Matrilineal clans are controlled by a women's council with a clan matriarch serving as the head. They are primarily in charge of running businesses, banking, education, hospitals and passing laws. The clan matriarch selects a male chief who is chosen to lead an all male council. They are responsible for security, enforcement, war, defense, exploring territory and manual labor. The chief is more of a servant leader and can be removed by the matriarch if necessary. All clans make up a larger confederacy with an everqueen who is chosen by the matriarchs of each clan. Ritualized gladiator games and competitions are used to replace warfare as a means of keeping the peace between the clans.

Culture: As the bearers of life, women are viewed as the "stronger" sex as they were made in God's image. They are more emotionally stable, rational and able to cooperate to achieve long term goals. Men are valued for their physical strength, bravery and desire to protect others. These qualities make them suited to warfare which is one of the most respected occupations a man can aspire to. However, men overall can be arrogant and egotistical, sometimes allowing their emotions to get the best of them. This belief keeps them out of political power.

Children are raised communally with the clan taking part in raising the next generation. The idea of the nuclear family is nonexistent. Much of child-rearing is left to the younger women and older men. Although children normally retain close relationships with their birth mother, brothers and uncles are the main father figures in a child's life. While sex is not particularly regulated, procreation is. The creation of life is viewed as a sacred form of magic. Cooperative breeding between clans is the norm as a way of securing alliances and trade deals. These arrangements are managed by a clan breeding councils made specifically for this purpose, and are responsible for keeping records and family trees. Successful and valued men are chosen to represent their clans in this way. For women, it serves as a rite of passage and motherhood is celebrated as a high honor. For men, it serves as a symbol of their value and worth to their clan.

The world is under siege from supernatural elements from an alternate dimension that exist alongside reality. It is separated from us by a thin veil which has weakened in certain areas or completely collapsed in others, allowing the things from the other side to get through. War is fairly common with these creatures. This has influenced humanity's development and culture, and encouraged a more complementary, rigid mindset about the genders. There are those that would support more egalitarian, progressive ideas. However, with the hostile environment they tend to get lost in the noise. These people would be viewed as foolish and naive or dangerous at worst. Humanity is focused on its continued survival and that tends to be prioritized over individual liberty or civil rights.

Given the setting, would magical birth control in these circumstances give rise to a rigid, conformist, and controlled society?

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    $\begingroup$ Humans are such a complex and diverse species that the only real answer to this question is "If you want them to" $\endgroup$ – sphennings May 20 '17 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ A quick point: if most children survive to adulthood, you basically must have an industrial-level society, understanding of medicine, etc. Earth's population exploded from the 1800's onwards primarily because infant mortality dropped significantly; prior to that, less than half of all children reached adulthood. You're going to have to think carefully about this one. $\endgroup$ – Palarran May 20 '17 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ I think people will answer the Title only and ot read any of the context. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz May 20 '17 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ Societies with reasonably good health practices have always practiced family planning when needed. The Romans did. Medieval French farmers did. Cheap practical condoms and the pill simplified birth control, but it was always possible (and most people knew how to do it). $\endgroup$ – AlexP May 20 '17 at 23:11

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You are overlooking a critical point. Actually, you've conflated it with another. There is no reason to think that women limiting their fertility will (by itself) cause "children usually survive to adulthood." This is (or was) largely a function of childhood diseases and (mal)nutrition. If the kids are dying from diphtheria, diarrhea, pertussis, etc, limiting births will simply result in families dying out. Recurring stressors such as famine/crop failure just increase the problem.

Additionally, having suggested that warfare is the male ideal, the question must be faced of just how much warfare actually occurs and how lethal that warfare is, both to combatants and noncombatants alike. If the average family produces 2 children per generation, a boy and a girl, and half the young men die in battle, and every generation or so a country gets invaded and half the countryside laid to waste, well... the outlook is not good for the culture.

Colonial America, as an example, had an average family size of about 6 children, but half of them died before the age of 5, so the high birth rate was not a cause of the mortality, but a response to it. And this has generally been true right up until the 1800s.

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Birth control does not shrink the population, it stabilizes it by creating family planning. Because women become able to better choose when to reproduce you see a shift to fewer and thus high investment children. So you get less boom/bust population fluctuation.

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In societies where women do not control conception and men do not care, women are pregnant as often as they can be pregnant. They have one child after another. This is because men want sex as much as they can have sex. In some such societies a man might opt to control conception for his own reasons; for example ISIS puts their sex slaves on contraceptive shots because pregnant sex slaves are less desirable.

Societal considerations aside, repeated back to back pregnancy is tough on the woman's body and a lot of work. Given just a little bit of control women will often space out pregnancies, try not to get pregnant if times are bad and so on. It is an interesting hypothesis that in humans, concealed ovulation (a woman does not know when she was fertile) evolved shortly after intelligence, because intelligent females sometimes avoided conceiving babies. The ones who did not know when they were fertile had a harder time avoiding conception, and so their genetic fitness was higher and their genes spread.

In societies of subsistence farmers and similar economies, where there is the possibility of regulating fertility but no social safety net and high child mortality, women choose to have big families because they will predictably lose a number to childhood mortality, and because more man / woman power in the family more effectively insures that the family stays fed. Also in old age, should they be so fortunate, the mother and father count on the kids to support them.

In societies where girl children are economically more burdensome than boy babies, families arrange to have fewer girl babies.

In advanced societies where women control their own fertility, the birthrate is low and often too low to fulfill the economic needs of the polity, which then must turn to outside / immigrant populations with higher birthrates to replenish workers.

Your society looks to be one where there will be a lot of community influence which determines whether a woman will bear a child or not. It looks very organized. It will be like China. The central government wanted to limit population growth by limiting fertility and achieved that. Recently they wanted some more population growth and changed policies, and now are achieving that. There are other groups in whom the women are encouraged to have as many children as they can; the Hutterites being one I can think of.

As long as the societal mechanisms you describe stay in place to regulate population it should work fine.

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    $\begingroup$ Also, before the 20th century or so, pregancy was hazardous to the mother. I've seen a statistic that in Puritan Massachusetts the average marriage lasted 12 years. The termination was not divorce, but death of the wife in or after childbirth. Contrast this to the current US maternal mortality rate of about 1 per 10,000 pregnancies. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast May 22 '17 at 17:51
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You've already answered your own question:

the faith plays a fundamental role in a person's life. Society is conservative and traditional, with the sexes expected to adhere to their gender... While sex is not particularly regulated, procreation is....Cooperative breeding between clans is the norm, as a way of securing alliances and trade deals. These arrangements are managed by a clan breeding councils made specifically for this purpose, and are responsible for keeping records and family trees. Successful and valued men are chosen to represent their clans in this way.

And you say over and over again that tradition and their specific gender roles are adhered to, which sounds to me like a "rigid, conformist, and controlled society."

However, there will always be outliers, and there will always be people who do not proscribe to those norms. Whether those are allowed and whether these people have a place or not, will be up to you.

There may certainly be communities that see things a little differently.

If war is fairly common and the society decides pregnancy rather than choice--it may not result in a low birthrate, but a high one, but in societies where the government regulates birth there is often an imbalance that nature would correct.

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Whether the population will shrink or grow will mostly depend on the policies the current breeding council imposes.

When women can control their reproductive functions, birth control policies are easily enforceable. Also, magic seems to be able to replicate a lot of industrial-age technology. Maybe even more. This means your society can easily create a lot more wealth than it requires for survival, meaning that your population growth is only limited by the natural resources you have available.

A larger clan is a more powerful clan, but also harder to govern. So every matriarch will decide for herself if she wants to grow, maintain or reduce the size of her clan. Most matriarchs will likely try to maintain a controlled and steady growth of their clans, always making sure that capacities of education, housing and agriculture grow at the same rate as the population. But special circumstances or personal attitude might cause some to deviate from this strategy.

A wise matriarch will likely give instructions to her breeding council like "I want at least 10 babies next year, check who is available" or "We got more than enough mouths to feed. Don't authorize any new pregnancies until further notice".

The fact that a woman gets much more powerful after giving birth, could mean two possible conclusions for the clan matriarch:

  • A mother is more valuable for the clan, so every woman is encouraged to have at least one child as early as possible.
  • A mother is a larger threat to the matriarch's authority, so only those who have proven to be loyal are allowed to have children.

Which attitude each clan will have will depend on whether the matriarch prefers to rule through popularity or through authority. As Nicolo Machiavelli wrote:

Is it better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with.

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It would depend on their medical and agricultural technology, this small population would made their best to secure the survival of each newborn, make sure that everyone has enough food, water, decent shelter, and a valuable occupation.

You would have a society that put's incredible value on the life of the individual, maybe they could go so far as to ban the consume of alcohol and other substances that could be seen as damaging.

Another point to think about is migration, if this kind of magic is not common in the whole world, then many women would probably want to move in to this city.

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  • $\begingroup$ All women on the planet have this ability. It's a common feature of biology. $\endgroup$ – user32862 May 20 '17 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ In this new scenario the magical birth control has little importance for their society, the constant war and the religious society would be of much greater impact to the world. $\endgroup$ – Sasha May 22 '17 at 22:03
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I wouldn't buy that magical birth control by itself, or paired with increased magic for mothers, would automatically create the society that you describe. But it sounds like a plausible society to evolve in its own right. You don't need to justify why they have the culture they do, and trying to do it is likely to backfire and make them seem less plausible because there are so many different ways that a culture could react to the same things.

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Given the setting, would magical birth control in these circumstances give rise to a rigid, conformist, and controlled society?

No, you did that yourself. In fact you have an analog IRL: America in the sixties and "flower children" shortly after the introduction of a "might as well be magic" birth control pill that was cheap (or free). Extensive promiscuity was the result. Without any worry about becoming pregnant, casual sex between young adults became extremely common, even to the point of anonymity: That is a non-rigid, non-conformist, and uncontrolled society.

It wasn't just that the guys wanted sex: Sex is fun and girls get horny too, but in most societies know they will bear most of the burden of pregnancy if it occurs, which tends to make them cautious to engage in sex without some commitment from the males in honoring their fair share of any such consequences.

However, once freed of that burden, and raised knowing pregnancy is their choice, we can expect a shift in their psychology at least part of the distance toward the default position already occupied by males: Sex is pleasurable, fun, and costs no money, so if the only price to pay is in the emotional realm; friendly sex is an option.

All the rigid conformism of your society is mandated by you; and somewhat contrary to the "natural" result. Cultural behaviors can be traced to costs and consequences, and you eliminated a major cost (unexpected pregnancy without support) that normally shapes a "conservative" society.

My analogy would be you have made the "price" of sex something like the "price" of clever puns, jokes, or card tricks, which are fun and make people happy and seldom have any real consequences. Being good at such puns, jokes and card tricks may get you friends and comrades that enjoy being around you. In your society, were it not for all your religious restrictions, being good at sex (for either gender) might serve the same friendly purpose.

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I would say that the frequent warfare with the supernatural elements would give rise to the rigid non-conformist society that you describe, rather than any birth control. Societies that are at war will emphasise resources that help them win the war (or at least, put off losing the war), and a hierarchical society with a command economy will help ensure that. How extensive this command economy is will depend on the size of the clan and the amount of pressure from the demons; the smaller the clan, or the higher the pressure from the demons, the more they have to concentrate on doing things that win the war.

In this phase of society, magical birth control might be used to emphasise production of male children to replenish the ranks of the armies. It is also the phase of society when men gain more (possibly temporary) privileges, as they're the ones giving up their lives on the front lines, whereas the women are staying in the safety, far from the front line. (If this didn't happen, there might be mutinies; even in a war for survival, there is only so much inequality you can force on those who are going to die for you before they they decide that others should be shouldering more of the burden.)

There will be periods, between wars, where society loosens up and completely changes; this will be in reaction to the war that preceded it. This is when the magical birth control might allow the women to truly put off their fertility and just enjoy sex.

There are other attributes that any society experiencing frequent warfare is likely to have. There would be a tendency towards gathering information about your society, especially during times of war. A surveillance society, where the surveillance is carried out via magical as well as technical and human means, will likely be in place (looking out for demonic agents in society). There might be propaganda campaigns to persuade men that their sacrifice would be for the great good ("Your country needs you!", etc.). There will an intolerance towards alternative views (possibly except in matters of warfare, where if a society is desperate enough, they will consider any options that might lead to a win). All of these would lead to your rigid intolerant society.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, exactly, it's odd to posit that birth control would be the most extraordinary and influential element of this setting. "If you were in a building during an earthquake, would drinking coffee lead to your yelling for help?" $\endgroup$ – Brendan Adkins Aug 29 '17 at 18:33
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The society you describe sounds like a very "rigid, conformist, and controlled" to me. You answered your own question.

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