Alternate History

Gender politics in the Caroline Era (Caroline Era)

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Gender politics in the Caroline Era is mainly a continuation of the Elizabethan trend but is as usual a logical continuation in some respects.

Gender Roles

The difference between women's and men's gender roles has been considerably eroded. Men do less paid work and women more, and the variation in hours is now insignificant. Automation and improved logistics and planning along with the advent of Work Share have reduced the total hours of paid work done per person. Since there has also been a decline in the birthrate due to reduced fertility, women are less likely to have children or care for them for a significant period. There are also nurseries which take children from quite an early age.

Unpaid work in the home is about equally shared too, though since domestic robots became popular there is much less of that. Also, there is a considerably greater tendency for people to work from home than they used to because of the advent of domestic computers.


The much reduced popularity of organised religion means that those weddings which do take place are almost always in register offices, and even religious weddings must now be accompanied by register office ceremonies to be legal because of the disestablishment of the Church Of England. There is generally little fuss made about weddings and there are few guests.

The common pattern of relationships nowadays is for people to live with each other for a period, perhaps have children, then separate and move onto a new relationship after a few years, almost always less than a decade. Only conservative religious people actually get married and stay together.

Disappearance of Breast Partialism

In the preceding Elizabethan era, the primary social construction of breasts was as erotic, to the extent that there was even a page devoted to them in the Sun print newspaper. This attitude began to change towards the end of the first Caroline decade and can be attributed to several factors.

Firstly, the continuing progress of feminism succeeded in changing patriarchal attitudes to women's bodies to some degree, although the erogenous zone shifted rather than disappeared.

Secondly, the shift in gender roles and the reduction of paid and unpaid working time made it easier for mothers to choose to breastfeed and the purchase of formula dropped dramatically. This was exaggerated further when its legal status changed to Prescription only Medicine.

Thirdly, although it may have been slightly psychosomatic, the widespread use of the male pill led to a perceived decline in the idea of the unstoppable male libido and a concomitant decline in the subjective perception of heterosexual male sex objects.

Finally, the adoption of unisex garments such as the Mars Suit meant that most of the time there was less difference between the visual appearance of women and men than previously.

Consequently, from the early second decade, there were a number of notable changes in the politics of the breast and breastfeeding. Probably the most startling of these from the perspective of Elizabethans would have been the social acceptability of women going bare-chested in public and the trend, begun with the Mars suit, of smoothing out gender differences by the widespread use of upper body wear with adjustable "breasts" which was economically advantageous to manufacturers because it enabled them to manufacture from one style for both women and men.

These social trends are, however, not without their drawbacks. Due to the universal medication of the population by tapwater, nursing infants often receive dangerously high doses of inappropriate substances. This increased the incidence of cot deaths. In fact, even when formula is used, the fact that it is made up with tap water usually means the child has a higher dose than when breastfed. Some mothers attempt to avoid it by imbibing soft drinks, but since these have to be bought they are less available to the poor and the incidence of SIDS is higher among the former "working class", who however have a lower birthrate due to the use of compulsory contraception in many cases.


The trend towards the general social acceptability of homosexuality has continued without interruption, with the exception of a slight tendency away from that position at the end of Elizabethan times. This has been helped by the erosion of traditional gender differences. This means, for example, that many relationships are not closely linked to plans to have children and the qualities which are considered attractive in others are not so strongly gendered as previously even among heterosexuals. Besides that, a rapid decline in belief in organised religion and the liberalisation of the organised religion which continues to exist means that religious objections to homosexual activity are much less prevalent, although there are still small faith groups which still hold to the tabu.

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