One powerful woman. Five talented lovers.
Can she keep her head… and her harem?
I’m so excited to show off The Footmen‘s cover, slated for release July 1, 2013! I love how the warm and loving circle of people contrasts against the cold, hard, linear world around them. Yria’s a lucky girl, don’tcha think?
Yria’s world is a gynocracy, where women hold all the positions of economic and political power. Few men have access to education, and even for those that do go to school, their subsequent career opportunities are limited. The majority of them are relegated to domestic duties, reliant on mothers, sisters, or a Mistress to provide for them. If they can’t find a woman to take care of them, they’re forced to live on the streets, at the mercy of paltry governmental support.
Any part of that sound familiar, ladies?
Marriage doesn’t exist in this world: there’s no such thing as a wife or a husband. Domestic arrangements are purely contractual, although employment in certain high-level positions tends to be very long term, if not for life. Achieving a position of footman in a woman’s House is a mark of status and what practically every young man aspires to achieve. Wealthy, powerful women can afford to keep “harems” of footmen, and there’s a hierarchy within those ranks. There are five commonly recognized footman-level positions within a successful woman’s household:
A Primeri is the first hire, serving as head housekeeper. He’s the highest-ranking footman due to tenure and expertise, oversees all other staff within the House, and often manages his Mistress’ personal social calendar, depending on her status in society.
A Derecha (Spanish term meaning “right-hand”) is the second in command and the second footman hired. (Note that subordinate roles are not capitalized, but the titles of Primeri and Derecha are.) He may serve in any of the following capacities…
A shīfu (Chinese term meaning “master/father/teacher”) is traditionally hired when a woman’s first child is born. He personally supervises all of the Mistress’ children, regardless of sire, but other footmen would be expected to help chaperone whenever needed. He home-schools her children and would administer all federal educational testing requirements. He’s basically the nanny and tutor of the House.
An iator (Greek term for “healer”) serves as the family’s nurse/nutritionist/trainer. He monitors the diet, health, and exercise regimen of the Mistress and her children. He is responsible for general checkups and nursing ill members of entire household, and this position requires extensive nutritionist and nurse practitioner training.
An esthete is like a publicist, stylist, and esthetician rolled into one. He is responsible for his Mistress’ wardrobe, arranging her hair and makeup, and providing any other necessary personal grooming (like massaging, waxing, etc.).
A vigilant is responsible for family’s security and defense training.
Which of the four roles a woman selects as her Derecha can tell a lot about her. Yria, for instance, chose an esthete for her Derecha, indicating a carefully cultivated public persona was crucial to her ambition from a very early age. Since most women choose to become mothers, nearly everyone has a shīfu. Often, if a woman can only afford to hire only one or two footmen, she might choose a shīfu as her Primeri or Derecha. (Though a fellow who serves as both Primeri and shīfu would find himself spread pretty thin, depending on the number of children!)
The third, fourth, and fifth footmen would serve in whatever roles are left over, if and when a woman can afford to support more members of the family. If she is unable to afford another footman to serve in these capacities, the one(s) she does have either pick up the slack, or they do without. Not everyone can afford a personal iator, but if a woman or one of her children were in poor health, she’d probably like to have one around. And only women of wealth and celebrity would bother with the expense of an esthete or vigilant.
Some very wealthy women have even larger entourages of footmen. Certain unflattering assumptions are made about the roles of men beyond the fifth footman, but I’ll let Amelior explain that later…