by Max Barry

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Family and Gender Roles within Society

General Information
Palmeran culture -and its different subsets- is primarily a composite of (once)Medieval Spanish and old Cat/Neko culture. That being said, its an odd mix where a very patriarchal system mixed with a very gynocentric system (though not specifically "matriarchal"*).

*Note: The female-majority neko aren't matriarchal because the focus of their society wasn't/isn't motherhood. Its gynocentric, females are the "default" sex but those female's gender roles can be both masculine and feminine by the standard of human dichotomy .

Both societies were very stratified. This doesn't equate to arbitrary treatment though; an interdependent link between servants and superiors ended up creating a new form of corporatism which is still very ingrained within society. And under this system everybody's well-being is indirectly represented under an almost magical divinely-ordained structure -be it Roman Catholicism or Neko ancestor/nature worship and even cults of personality.

Both societies were hardly individualistic- going your own way meant certain death and disloyalty against the family unit and the community (far more true among the neko than the Spanish) and any hint of selfishness back then was intolerable: individualism is at it's worst the uselessness and ungratefulness of a dog who bites the hand of a master (though this view implies a bad "master" deserves no loyalty from"hungry dogs"). That is: Individuals provide for families. Families provide for communities. Communities of individuals filled up company and occupational corporate/guild ranks be they religious, private in all it's varieties, or administrative and military. And these corporations all work together to make the State which provides for the individual. Theoretically: "All for One, One for All".

However despite the rigidness, Palmeran culture was also formed because of dire acts and dynamic contradiction. Our spot in a strategic zone has made it very prevalent to invasions- so ambitious service to superiors and productivity were always incentives to rise in ranks and win or maintain prestige- that way, individual motivation is set under a collective goal. Helping yourself is also helping others, be it serving the Empress of the Cats, the King of Spain, the Spanish West Indies Company, the Army, the Party, your ancestors, your business, etc. and so on...

In sum; Palmeran culture maintains a society where cooperation and harmony are maintained through the rule of a competitive but somewhat hierarchical and inter-dependent system in which all individuals have roles in something bigger than them; it replies to a "natural order" which shows a deeply-rooted spiritualism hidden behind apparent pragmatism.

I and Other
Just like any other big cultural revolution, the 19th Century's turmoil opened up many doubts: with liberalism crushed and always a foreign ideological branch Freedom endowed by the creator in the Classical Liberal sense never fully managed to secularize itself, much less enable a political system built on it and the ideals of the American and French revolutions. Man was free in a more Augustinian sense and his state of material being was often overshadowed by an inner spiritual path that reflected the Trinitarian nature of God. However it was this concept which was criticized with the philosophical "Orienialization" of the clergy within Las Palmeras: the concept of self.

From Plato and Aristotle to Augustine and Descartes the very importance of existing and self-realization was shattered by shell shocked thoughtful priests and monks. Only through an emphasis on the Manichean and mystical aspects of the East could it be comprehended that there was a dual nature to human beings: as individuals and as social beings. This spiraled into a Chicken-and-Egg dilemma over how much "self" was an abstraction whose qualities only existed in social interconnection, and what moral system was most appropriate. For more information on Religion, see here.

Gender Roles and Sexuality
Gender roles have changed dramatically within Las Palmeras over only about a little more than 5 centuries. The typically Patriarchal order of the Occidental/Iberian family conflicted with more gynocentric leanings of the Cats; despite Spain's attempts to hispanize gender roles and family structures, even mass intermarriage didn't do away with many Cat/Neko customs. Many women could still work in male fields and many did it to the point that cross-dressing became common, especially true in sex-segregated military units for example. The catastrophe of ignoring such a workforce and obligating women to stay at home would have been economic suicide.

The gradual shift towards a technical-oriented literacy over 2 centuries and equal work roles however didn't equate to USA-GB style "suffrage": under a system which either censored or opposed liberalism, a woman out of the house was only another provider for the family unit, and ideally only a temporary one at that- after she married she was (and is still to the day) expected to settle down and focus on the home and motherhood. This is so true that even Secondary and Preparatory schools offer electives such as cooking, nursing, and home administration which are typically expected for girls, albeit they're not gender exclusive nor is it uncommon for girls to go for "unfeminine" electives.

The home is the (Middle Class) wife's domain, and she administrates it with the money of the husband or male breadwinner. This situation is also quite stratified with the oldest woman taking command if she possesses the intent to do so, often the husband's mother and where the henpecked wife can hope to learn from the experience of her in-law to become an iron-willed leader like her. Though this may appear sexist in theory, in practicality it gives women an enormous leverage that can easily be overlooked. Their education of the children and economic control is enough to sway over much decision making at home, and any negligent man with people to look after can easily be socially ostracized or divorced.

This balance of power is more prevalent among the Lower Classes and the inverse is true of the well-off people who were less affected by the crises. As ironic as it may sound, the lowered amount of men in the 19th Century didn't mean tolerated male promiscuity. Instead a big "mother" figure could call the shots and arrange marriages; in which only the children of her sons were living labor-power and disputes over who was the father could lead to clannish fights over the grandchildren. Only after the Sexual Liberation in the second half of the 20th Century was that the unequal sex ratio allowed for ménage à trois-style MFF arrangements: though this has often been criticized for causing emotional jealousy in relationships not to mention the risk of STIs or supposed confusion among children which polyamorous lifestyles may evoke.

The Higher Classes tend to be either very patriarchal if they're descendants of whites (Spaniards) or alternatively, extremely gynocentric if they're descendants of the Neko with little to no human mix in them of if they follow neko cultural norms more often.

A particularly Palmeran social phenomenon among this unequal sex ratio (due to the Neko) is the debate over how much homosexuality is prevalent among the female populace or if there is "Situational homosexuality" and bisexuality. In either case, bisexuality is seen as a tolerable nuance by the more conservative sectors of Palmeran society while homosexuality is seen as a waste of time and efforts and was considered a mental disease until the 1980s. Despite this both male and female homosexuality and transexuality have a long history of cross-dressing and imitating "normal" relationships, for being seen as less of an aberration.

Ironically enough, form most classes (save for the Spanish Linkcriollos and other minorities) the ideal man's man is rather dandified; probably a reconstruction of an adept Neko courtesan who's presumably good at his job enough to work hard and charismatic enough to win over ladies in a rather effeminate manner, a huge contrast to the imaged macho-man seen in many neighboring countries.

Family Structure
Though extended families were historically more common in the past, following contemporary times there has been a gradual shift towards the reduction of the family unit, though probably not as much as the "nuclear family", at least among the more Spanish-influenced. Most families in a household or apartment room incorporate the eldest son and his parents (if still living), a wife, and any children which are to result. Younger siblings are expected to branch out and marry out (though preferably not too far away), a throwback to Spanish customs regarding firstborn privileges albeit a matriarch can choose which of her sons or daughters is the chosen one to stay at home if the firstborn isn't deemed competent enough.

Just like the "corporations" outside in social life, within the household there exists a top-to-bottom approach where the eldest and most experienced call in the shots (typically the grandmother or grandfather), or if the eldest back down then they're at least there to provide advice to the home administrator (wife) and breadwinner (husband), with the children below obliging to their purposes be them education or work.

By contrast, the more Neko-influenced sectors of society and parts of the islands do typically prefer to settle with larger families that can form entire clans under a defined territory.

"Gravy isn't a part of Spaniard cuisine. How did it happen here? In sandwiches and in meat?

Supposedly, after the thorough interrogation of captured British pirates. Though the Palmerans did spend about 8 or more generations living off rations and what they could find; so eel pie and pound cake with seagull eggs are considered decent and complete meals, a real treat would be a few vegetables and one meat component cooked in a clay pot with whatever else was around. And they're not exclusively British, the eel pie at least...what's so bad about eel though? I can't find any reason not to eat it."
-Two foreigners discussing food

Effectively, just like a lot of other things, "Palmeran" cuisine is a composite of various different cultural ingredients and popularly known Palmeran food is unlikely to be Haute Cuisine and instead was meant to provide a fulfilling meal. Heavily influenced by Spanish Andalusian/Mediterranean food mixed with Native and African gastronomy and always kept on the line with seafood due to our island nature, over time it even obtained some considerate British influence after centuries of both violent conflict and peaceful coexistence.

Save for perhaps the famous and celebratory barbecue pits, a keenness towards quickness and easy preparation and composition should be noted. Before the second half of the 19th Century basically anything which could be eaten could be made a food. If it could bleed or swim, if there was vegetables with beans or rice to complement it then it was an ideal and complete meal. Stuffing things between dough makes an endless variety of pies and baked dumplings. Biscuits were considered staple rations and later just staple food.

There's a fair amount of ways to prepare rice; or alternatively different ways to make flours to create different types of bread. However it should be noted that hot foods, save for perhaps maritime stews, are not really a big thing within Las Palmeras. The fascination with cold-cuts or cooled dinner food within sandwiches, ice cream varieties and fondness of beer all reflect the comforts of bearing with the sun.

The State of Las Palmeras