Let's say that in a matriarchal society, a female warrior is wounded in the stomach.

While being tended to, after removing her armor, would they cover her breasts with a cloth or other material for modesty's sake? Or, because the society is dominated by women, would they have no issues leaving her uncovered?

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    $\begingroup$ Victorian prudery is not a shared attribute of all "patriarchal" cultures. And I honestly don't know of any human culture which considers exposing women's breasts to be "offensive". Indecent, maybe, depends on the culture. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 15 '17 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ This is a medical emergency. In female dominated society it is probable females wouldn't be offended the sight of another woman's breasts. Covering might be provided to protect the wounded warrior from the elements. Modesty might be an additional reason. Would male warriors leave exposed the bodies of wounded men? A similar rationale would apply. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 15 '17 at 2:51
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    $\begingroup$ I think this more a "puritan American" issue than anything else. $\endgroup$ – Erik Sep 15 '17 at 7:20
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    $\begingroup$ Nudity is not universally considered offensive, sexual or any other such subjective and human-made convention. This depends entirely on both culture and context. So this is up to you as the author to come up with. If you want your fictional society to have that convention, then that is how it is. If not, then that is what happens. $\endgroup$ – MichaelK Sep 15 '17 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ There are actually many patriarchal societies which didn't or don't find exposed breasts offensive. There was even a time in medieval Europe where it was a fashion trend among noblewomen to expose one breast. $\endgroup$ – Philipp Sep 15 '17 at 9:08

In a patriarchal society, do wounded men on the battlefield mind having their cod piece removed? Also, consider that there are women in some older earth societies that do not cover their breasts even though they live in patriarchal societies.

So, my answer: is

  1. No, they would not cover her breasts, any more than a penis would be covered for treatment of a man's groin injury.


  1. It has nothing to do with whether the society is matriarchal or patriarchal - breasts in some cultures are seen as utilitarian and not sex symbols.
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    $\begingroup$ Even in contemporary western society, there are many places where bare female breasts, or indeed complete nudity, are perfectly acceptable. E.g. beaches in some European countries, nude beaches (or just about any lake or stream out in the wild) in the US, &c. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Sep 15 '17 at 3:20
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    $\begingroup$ "mind having their penis pieces removed?" I would mind... I really hope there's just a language barrier and you're talking about clothing or a codpiece. $\endgroup$ – Xen2050 Sep 15 '17 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Xen2050 "Sir, we could save your life, but we'll have to remove your penis piece" "I'd rather just die tbh" $\endgroup$ – SGR Sep 15 '17 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ I think point 2 is all there is to it. The two are simply not connected. $\endgroup$ – Maciej Sep 15 '17 at 8:01
  • $\begingroup$ LOL @Xen2050 I had called it something else but LDutch edited to Penis Piece, which also struck me as problematic. $\endgroup$ – DPT Sep 15 '17 at 13:34

Non-Medical Answer

Whether or not such exposure would be deemed inappropriate has little to do with which gender is dominant. While there is any number of people of both sexes who would gladly walk down the street naked just because they could, even the most staunch patriarchist would generally cover up in public. Why?

Because primary and secondary sex characteristics of humanity are considered "posessions" sophisticated cultures (read: not tribal). Something that shouldn't be shared with others because those characteristics (breasts & genitalia, etc.) are not other's for the taking.

What are the characteristics of a society that might admonish "covering up?"

  • Posession (what's mine is mine)

  • Sexual crime

  • Whether or not intercourse itself is viewed as a status symbol in the socity (e.g., ancient Greek or Roman sensibilities).

Medical Answer

As for whether or not a patient would be covered up depends on convenience. On the battlefield, the first priority is to save the life, not protect dignity. Whether or not something is covered is only a matter of convenience, nothing else. (Likewise, nothing would be removed that wasn't necessary because time is more important than anything else.)

However, the further you get from crisis, the more social mores kick in. Even on an operating table, if the environment is controlled and prepared for, only that area of the body being worked on is exposed. Why? For one, because cleaning up offal is much simpler when a drop-cloth is involved. For another, when people have time to think about social mores, they tend to act upon them.


Therefore, the issue has nothing to do with matriarchy or whether or not it's a warrior society. It has everything to do with the social mores of your society.

Curiously, our own society is changing from a very sexually closed society to a very sexually open society. The reasons range from greater acceptance of LGBT individuals to an open Internet that permits sexting from a very young age. Which means both politics and communication technology impact social mores.

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    $\begingroup$ You are avoiding the subject. The problem is whether breasts would be considered a sexual attribute. In some cultures hair is considered a sexual attribute. In some cultures every piece of naked skin is a sexual attribute. And in some cultures naked breasts are completely normal, especially because children are often fed in public. $\endgroup$ – Sulthan Sep 15 '17 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Sulthan, you are incorrect. The OP said nothing about sexuality, only modesty. And the only cultures I can think of off the top of my head where breasts are normally uncovered are tribal cultures. While there are more sophisticated cultures that accept e.g., breast feeding; none that I'm aware of allow public nudity other than in specified locations (e.g., nudist/topless beaches). $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 15 '17 at 6:51
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    $\begingroup$ You are talking about sexuality and sexual attributes. If breasts are not considered a sexual attribute, they are not a "posession". True if you are looking at the modern society which is mostly affected by Christian/Islamic culture. Historically, there are many examples - ancient Egypt, China, Japan. $\endgroup$ – Sulthan Sep 15 '17 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Sulthan OK, I've updated my answer with the official terms. Primary and secondary sex characteristics DO NOT REFER TO SEXUAL INTERCOURSE OR SEXUALIZATION. In English, they refer to the characteristics of the body that identify biological gender. And I continue to assert the OP did not mention sexuality. You are still in error. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 15 '17 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Sulthan, how a society treats secondary sexual characteristics definitely depends on whether they are viewed in a sexual way. Otherwise, why don't men cover their beards and larynxes for "modesty"/to protect their "possessions"? $\endgroup$ – jam Sep 15 '17 at 8:48

Females in the patriarcal society of Europe or American countries (I have seen it plenty in Latinamerica) go to the beach with their breast exposed. However there are countries like Argentina (Topless women spark beach fury in Argentina) where they expell women who do not cover themselves from the beach because is illegal.

Modesty has many components:

  • cultural
  • religious
  • rebellious behaviour
  • etc.

Also, if I was hurt in the middle of a war my biggest concern would be to get healed, not if someone saw me naked.

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    $\begingroup$ Commonsense at last! Getting war wounds healed is more important than modesty. Plus one. $\endgroup$ – a4android Sep 15 '17 at 12:06

Bare breasts has nothing to do with patriarchy or either matriarchy

See for example Europe, in places like beaches both men and women can free the nipple but on streets neither can and in nude beaches both can be full naked.

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