The Darkest Hour
Sexuality & Gender Roles
The Empire has long eschewed most gender roles in favor of a more egalitarian society. This is not out of any loyalty towards social progress. It is efficacy pure and simple. In 1613, a resurgence of plague swept the continent, killing the Anglian king and wiping out nearly thirty percent of the continent's population. Newly empowered Queen Charlene II inducted women into their military, citing a bylaw from the 'old empire' which enabled women to serve as soldiers in the imperial legion. She spent one year training, and preparing her bolstered forces to push into the eastern reaches and taking territory at a time when most monarchy's lacked the man power to respond. In 1615, Queen Charlene II gained control of what is now the Eastern portion of the Empire, and began the process of naming herself empress. With the establishment of the Empire under Empress Charlene I one year later in 1616, gender roles and concepts of what a woman was capable of had begun major reform. Now, as of 1671, The Continental Legion does not care who loads and fires muskets, and they certainly do not care about what clothing you choose to wear so long as you can wield a pike and stand under the weight of your armor. This 'progressive' mindset is echoed throughout the entirety of the Anglian empire, save Grenada, which maintains a staunch rivalry with the imperial throne. As a result, gender specific clothing outside of the occasional skirt is something only the elite and rich wear as a status symbol. Even then, the empire recognizes three genders,male, female, and Krezka. Krezka is a remnant of the old Empire word for one who transforms. These individuals often enjoy both female and male characteristics, and embrace neither. Alternatively, they are individuals who have changed their identity later in life. Either way,they are a rarity, and the church looks upon such individuals as blessed, as they were traditionally able to perform the societal roles of either gender. The empire does not discourage relationships of any kind, extramarital or otherwise- especially as gender is not strictly tied to ones sexual orientation. However, procreation at least once in one's life is strongly encouraged regardless of love or marriage due to the expansionist nature of the church's doctrine. Marriage, as one might expect- can be between any gender combination, but societal pressure to procreate with a friend or surrogate will be thrust upon the couple at very early stages of their relationship, and more often than not- it is between a man and woman as a result. The empire's expansion must continue at all costs, and respect for an individuals life choices does not supersede the need to bolster the population.
Ultimately, fashion is rarely tied to a given gender outside of formal events, where women will generally wear skirts, Because of this, most people will usually be found wearing breeches, fitted long sleeved doublets, and wide brimmed hats- Clothing that is well suited to the work they are to perform. Women and Krezka will sport dresses and skirts in the more conservative regions of the empire, especially if they are doing work in the home and hearth. However, in other regions, men sport aprons and skirts just as often as women. This is not to say femininity and masculinity do not exist among the empire's fashion choices. It is simply practical to embrace either option regardless of your gender. It is mostly dependent on what is useful to the work at hand, cultural, and personal choice. However, In 1657 AI, reforms and sumptuary laws issued by the church to encourage simplicity of dress led to blacks, browns, and earth tones being adopted by nearly the entire empire, especially in winter.