General Question


Need Help with Answering a Biology and Evolution-related Question for a Fictional Story?

Asked by BB8ISGREATMATE (35points) 3 weeks ago

Ok so, I’m writing a fantasy story at the moment which takes place in a world where there exists a special race of warrior women called Golden Girls (that’s a awful name, I know. Just consider it a placeholder) who evolved into basically near perfect life forms. They’re Strong enough (both physically and mentally) to join men on the battlefield, beautiful enough to attract companions and metabolically fit enough to give birth. They’re also slightly taller in height than the women of our reality and have reactionary, fine-motor, hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness skills on par with men. In simple terms, I basically wanna design a realistic race of women similar to the Mythology Amazons (Zelda’s Gerudo Tribe or Wakanda’s Dora Milaje might be better comparisons. Ignore their blood-red hair and lack of hair though) without invoking magic, biogenetics or similar forms of hand-waving.

This is where the problems start to arise. Not only am I trying to rewrite history and alter evolution itself without relying on the things that could solve the issue near instantly, but I’m also trying to defeat the the exact purpose behind evolution making women less optimised for hunting and fighting than men. Based on the information gathered from scientific Q&A websites, Wikipedia, Quora, Reddit, Biology Stack Exchange and various other online sources, the reason that women are so much more unsuited for the things men are capable of doing is because evolution found that splitting up our species into two sexs (one optimised for fighting, lifting and hunting and another optimised for birthing and nurturing offspring) was the best method of speeding up sexual reproduction. Not only that however, but in order to in order to make a human physically stronger, you have to increase their testosterone levels, which in turn, decreases the things men find conventionally attractive in women (e.g. medium-large-sized breasts, soft skin, minimal muscles, small frames, wide hips, high-pitched voices and a few more I’m probably missing). There are also other factors that contribute to the massive gap in physical strength between the two sexs such as our male ancestors lacking the intelligence to consensually mate with females, thus oppressing them through forced copulation and gender divisions preventing women from doing the same jobs that men do and vice-versa but based on the things I’ve read, the first point seems to be the most important.

Of course, not every species of animal is like this. In fact, in some species like Spiders, Spotted Hyenas and Preying Mantis, certain Birds of Prey and Angler Fish, the females are physically stronger and far more aggressive than the males. Seahorses and Lions are the ones that interest me the most though. Seahorses have borderline no sexual dimorphism at all between each other in regards to size and strength, yet they still have different inner workings that make them unquestionably different from each other and Lions have males that are very visually distinct from females and stronger than them too, yet they choose to use that strength to defend their pride from outsiders. As far as hunting and gathering food is concerned, that duty falls onto the females. This right here is what I’m trying to create using real evolutionary science. A species of human where women are visually distinct from men in regards to appearance, yet are close enough to them in physical and mental strength to justifiable enlist them into an army (a medieval-period-inspired army with swords, shields, bows, spears and bludgeons specifically).

Ok so now that context has been supplied, here are my questions:

Is what I’m trying to create scientifically possible?

If the answer to this question is yes, the next two questions will be:

What changes is history would need to be made in order to make this possible and what things about my fictional society’s culture and the personalities of those a part of said society will be different from how they are in our reality?

If the answer to the first question is no however, the second question now becomes:

Is it possible to maybe create a watered-down version of my described race of female warriors? Like, would removing sexism and gender roles from history potentially make women stronger than they currently are, or is it scientifically and evolutionarily impossible to increase the physical and mental strength of a woman without compromising her ability to safety give birth to children and altering her appearance so much that she no longer looks like a woman?

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13 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

Men play a small role in reproduction. Once they impregnate one female, they are ready to impregnate another. From an evolutionary point of view it makes sense to be able to fight off other suitors and not have much of an interest in nurturing. If you could have fetuses raised in chemical vats, then you change the evolutionary pressures on men and women.

seawulf575's avatar

You are creating an alien race and trying to apply terrestrial biology and evolution to it. As the saying goes, you can’t get there from here. What if there was a dormant weakness in male genes that caused them to die off at or before birth (or even slightly afterward) more frequently than females so there were less males? Not all males, obviously, but enough that it impacted the balance of male/female in the species? In a situation like that females would naturally become the hunters as well as the gatherers, the rulers, the protectors and the aggressors. Males could still do all the things they can do now, but there would be far fewer of them so they would be less likely to rise in numbers to positions of power.

Jeruba's avatar

If I were you, I would not want to give away my story concept in a public medium.

You’re free to invent your own rules for biology and evolution. Long, detailed explanations in your story are not necessary; they would probably not hold most readers’ attention.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Check out this Scientific American article about Bonobo Sex and Society.
The females rule the roost and have replaced acts of aggression with sex.
I imagine your mythical inhabitants might share the same characteristics and traits.

gorillapaws's avatar

From a story perspective, I’d encourage you to be VERY CAREFUL with perfection. Perfection in fiction is boring. Flawed people are interesting and make for character growth, conflict and good stories.

One evolutionary principle to keep in mind is Kin selection. Also the reason men would go to war is because one guy can father many babies so if a bunch of men get killed in battle your tribe (i.e. the collective gene pool) is still in good shape. but if a female dies that’s a much bigger loss for the tribe in terms of creating new tribe members.

For example, if you had two tribes that each included 20 fertile men and 20 fertile women. Tribe A has the men fight for their village and tribe B has their warrior-women fight. After the battle each side loses 10 of their warriors. Now Tribe A can still make 20 babies between the 20 women and 10 surviving men, whereas tribe B can only produce 10 babies because there are only 10 fertile women for the 20 guys to impregnate. Over time, which tribe is going to survive to produce more tribe members?


@LostInParadise – How would biogenetically synthesizing living organisms in chemical vats help with solving my issue?


@seawulf575 – I’m not trying to create an alien race using our biological science. I’m trying to create a realistic alternate history in which women were subjected to different evolutionary pressures that lead them to develop in a similar manner to their male counterparts.

Your idea about a male birth defect sounds promising. Does something like that exist in real-life?


@LuckyGuy – Sooooo… if the human race was built on a monogamous foundation as opposed to a polyamorous one, my idea becomes possible? Is that what you’re getting at?

LostInParadise's avatar

@BB8ISGREATMATE , If women no longer needed to carry their child then their role in childbirth is equivalent to that of men, and they could evolve similar characteristics.


@gorillapaws – When I say perfect, I don’t mean perfect in the sense of “This fictional character is unlikable and unrelatable because he/she is fallible”, but rather in a biological sense.

As for your point about evolution. Uhhhhhh… yeah. That’s my problem here. How do I go against evolution’s logic for making women weaker than men in a way that makes sense?


@LostInParadise – Ahhhh ok. That makes a lot more sense now. Still, I said that I didn’t wanna use technology to explain this, so while this is a great suggestion for a Sci-Fi story, I’m afraid it doesn’t really fit with MY story. Thanks so much for trying though.

gorillapaws's avatar

@BB8ISGREATMATE “How do I go against evolution’s logic for making women weaker than men in a way that makes sense?”

You need to fabricate some mechanism that makes men more scarce than women in a pretty extreme way such that the survival of fertile males is critical for the tribe. Maybe there’s an environmental hazard. In most men’s Y chromosome there’s a gene that reacts in a fatal way (maybe it’s an element in the local water that prevents the metabolization of sugar?). There’s a rare mutation that some men have that does not include this gene.

HP's avatar

That’s an interesting approach. Why not eliminate the comparison through afflicting the males with some contagion rendering them weaklings?

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