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Magic has been a fundamental part of humanity's development. It has existed since its beginning, and has been an essential part of its dominant religion. Magic is seen as a gift from the gods, a way to secure humanity's future and a symbol of its dominance and mastery over the world. It is slow and ritualized, but has powerful effects.

Unfortunately, due to events in an ancient war thousands of years ago, men have lost their ability to perform magic. The reason for this has been forgotten by history, but the effects have been felt by all males currently. Whether it was taken from them or they lost it due to their own fault remains a debatable issue by historians. Nevertheless, women took over the daily functions of the church since they are the only sex able to produce magic.

The only way around the no magic rule for men is through the church. Men who are accepted by it go through a ceremony in which the ability to access magical powers is "transplanted" into them. The process can be painful, but they are given back the abilities that they lost all those years ago.

Would this setup lead to gender inequality in the church or stigmatization of males in the religion?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know specifically about church-related stigma, but the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan has male casters, and they're incredibly stigmatized (mostly due to being ticking time bombs). In that sense, they've 'lost' their ability to do magic since as soon as they start to try it, they either get their magic taken from them, or are killed, or both. In the WoT world, males in general aren't too stigmatized, but if you're male and suspected of being a caster, you'll be stigmatized to death. $\endgroup$ – IronWaffleMan Sep 19 '17 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ I think there will be gender inequality everywhere in your world. From my perspective, it would be hard not for a matriarchy to form and for them to actively enforce their superiority. $\endgroup$ – A. C. A. C. Sep 19 '17 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ Who runs the Church? Males, females, or both? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 19 '17 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ Did they actually lose their ability through no fault of their own, or was it taken from them? If it was forcibly removed, you have the makings of an Original Sin stigma. $\endgroup$ – Chris M. Sep 19 '17 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ You have omitted any reference to females. How can anyone possibly comment without understanding more about the role females play in your world? Do females have/practice magic? Inasmuch as you claim magic to be a fundamental part of humanity's development, and the fact that you mention men lost their ability, implies that women maintained it. Could you please clarify? $\endgroup$ – Lee Leon Sep 19 '17 at 17:24
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In short, yes

After thinking about it some more, I suppose (depending on the society) that you will most likely have an Original Sin stigma. Though the broader nature of Original Sin states that humanity is inherently sinful because of the fall of the first humans, some ascribe the original sin to Eve and contend that the lesser value of women is punishment for the downfall of humanity that Eve wrought.

At first, I was considering that such a stigma against men would exist if their magic was taken from them as punishment. The idea that men cannot be trusted with magic would weigh heavily on cultural traditions and the formation of normative gender roles. Even with the advancement of society and the gradual rejection of these notions, it would be difficult to reverse the cultural momentum of a society where men are less valuable. We see the inverse of this in many cultures today, with women long being perceived as weaker and less capable than men.

The more I considered it, the more I realized that even if the men had lost their magic through no fault of their own, society might reason that they deserved such punishment regardless. Humans readily subscribe to a sort of universal meritocracy, where everything that happens to everyone is either a punishment or reward earned. This particular mentality works well with a religion, which teaches a similar divine rewarding of some practices and punishment of others.

TL; DR below:

In summary, the fact that men have no magic except through the church lends itself well to the idea that men as a whole are being punished for some ancient and forgotten transgression (even if that's not the case). If your religion prescribes that the sins of the father are visited upon the son, then all men share in the punishment are made lesser in the eyes of the Deity. And if the Deity deems them lesser, who will argue with Him/Her/It/Them? Only the church can redeem the men determined to be worthy.

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There are a lot of variables.

The most important variable is how gender equality/ inequality was prior to the loss of powers. Quite simply, throughout human history, women have been subordinate due to the persuasive and decisive powers of men in power. Helene Cixous (French feminist) discussses some of these techniques when applied to fairy tales and stories of ancient heroes. She discusses the "second birth" as men kissing women back to life or saving them from the brink of death. She argues this was so popular because it gave men the power to create life (or "give birth," if you will), thus taking the one power women had away from them as further proof that women were not necessary and only existed because men were kind enough to let them, and that rhetoric and belief system was pervasive for thousands of years (perhaps it still is for many). SO if your society was already patriarchal, they could very easily change the rhetoric around magic to be a curse from the gods or a power unworthy of naturally manifesting in men. They could treat women like vessels that exist only to give men power (through the ceremony), much like women existed as mere vessels to create men throughout history (like the "close your legs and think of England" adage).

If men and women were more or less equal prior to the power shift, there could be an imbalance, but you'll also find that throughout history, women in power do not often seek to take power from men. Some even argue that conquest and a thirst for power are typically male traits (though again, we can probably blame a patriarchal society on the manifestation of these traits in men or women). So you could very well have women who did not seek to unseat men.

However, it is more logical that power and conquest are human traits that are typically treated as masculine (thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy when only men exhibit these traits, personality and attitude are not entirely innate). If you accept that these are human traits and not male traits, then the women with this power would logically crave more power and create a matriarchal society. I would also assume they would not choose to endow very many males with the power they possess.

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Eunuchs are a third category

This would be fine. Your male magicians would be a third gender and societal category, no longer male but eunuchs: males who are unmanned because this state is better for certain roles. What makes a man? Take that away, and the magic can come back. Certainly that would be congruent with the premise that magic is banned for men, and that the reacquiring of magic entails a painful ceremony.

Many ancient societies kept a population of eunuchs because this was useful to them. Eunuchs are less prone to misbehave in certain ways, usually the sexual and the aggressive. Also they do not have heirs and so are not tempted by certain types of power.

from http://fascinatinghistory.blogspot.com/2008/05/eunuchs-in-byzantium.html

Crusaders from the West were amazed and horrified when they saw how plentiful and even powerful Eunuchs were in Byzantium, many times gaining powerful administrative positions in government, the church and great estates of the nobility.

The Chinese general and explorer Zheng He was also a eunuch, made that way to make him more fit for civil service.

In your society eunuchs would have some of the female power of magic, and also retain some of what your society considers male properties (whatever you like - maybe ambition, intelligence etc). They are not competition for unmodified males, few of whom are interested in undergoing that change to unmale. They may be competition for females depending on how exactly the magic works and whatever male prerogatives they retain on becoming eunuchs.

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  • $\begingroup$ Eunuchs would be a nice addition to this universe, I believe. $\endgroup$ – user2851843 Sep 28 '17 at 12:26
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Gender inequality? Yes. Stigmatization? Depends on how and why the magic is lost.

Even if the original cause is lost, the cultural effect will still exist until today, albeit in altered forms. If the males are dominant before the event, and do not lose their power in the event, I doubt that the sentiment will go against the males. In fact, if the hero is male, the image of heroism will stick to the male figure.

However, if the hero(ine) is actually a female, and the villain is a male, there's a good chance that male will be forced to give up their magic power to prevent the same apocalypse.

How? Similar to circumcision, all male babies will have their magic power removed. There's only two ways to obtain it back: wedding ceremony, where the female will give all her magic power to the male, or a heroic effort, to prove he can be trusted with the power.

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Not necessarily. Thousands of years is a LONG time for society, it seems likely that male magic using would have long since gone down two paths:

  1. ALL males undergo this ritual, possibly as a "coming of age" process, particularly if there are few negative side effects (like the eunuch procedure described in another answer). So in this case men and women adults are fairly comparable, assuming a childhood without magic doesn't retard progress much. So the religion could be pretty equitable between the genders.

or

  1. Virtually NO males bother with magic. This is particularly true if magic is so slow and energy intensive that a bunch of men working together can accomplish the same thing. Say it takes 20 women sorcerers 2 weeks of shaking wands, chanting, and sacrificing bulls in order to raise up a single earth dwelling. 20 men with tools and bricks could build 2 similar dwellings in that time. So there would be gendered specialization with women focusing on the areas where magic is best and labor (and developing technology) are lacking. In this case there may be secular and religious differences more like what we have today (separation of church and state) giving men a strong political voice, even if not in church.

There would probably be significant friction between magical female solutions and male technological solutions to problems. This may spur increased technological development, something Earth didn't experience until human slave labor was significantly curtailed. You would have male "industrial revolution" nations that may suppress female magicians squaring off against female wizard led "magical nations" where men are a subordinate labor class.

A lot would depend on how magic works, if it could be suppressed, and just how powerful it is.

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Probably, at least a little bit. It real depends on how the religious leaders interpret the punishment of the males (in my oppion I think humans are naturally judgmental and self righteous, do I think it is likely that the church leaders interpret the fall of man as proof of female superiority.)

There is also might develop a class divide between males and females. Where males are farmers, workers, soldiers smiths. And females are priestess, scribes, leaders, and battle mages.

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