By Kefira
I’ve noticed that many of the felines that I know and trust, either consider themselves to be, or have an very easy time becoming, androgynous. I think that it might be they don’t often, or rather, don’t really distinguish between what’s male and female. Which, if you think about it, rather makes sense in terms of therianthropy, as the vast majority of felines don’t have a marked mental sexual dimorphism. Being solitary creatures (except for some male cheetahs, and housecats), the males and the females have to have the ability to do the exact same things to survive. From my understanding, the only really female things about most cats is that she may be slightly smaller, with a smaller range, and she has kittens.
Lions, on the other hand, are the only feline species with such a definite, strong sexual dimorphism. That’s the main reason that I strongly stress that I’m a lioness, over just using lion. I have seen one female person say that their wereside’s a lion. I’ve tried explaining before what make lioness different from other cats, but I didn’t do a really good job at it.
So, I’ll try again, while I’m all druggy. It’s worked before. I’d also like to address some things I’ve heard that made me snort whatever I was drinking at the time. (Note: This is based solely on myself. I’d like it if any other lionesses who would read this could offer comments or corroborations.)
Anyway, I was trying to explain lionesses’s need for others. This doesn’t mean that lioness is any more friendly than other felines. They’re most definitely not. Anyone who’s studied a bit about lions probably knows this. Speaking for myself, I know I’m antisocial and bitchy. I like, love, and am interested in, certain people, but it usually has to be approached a certain way, and I definitely am not fond of people in general. The only real difference in this way between lionesses and other cats, is that lionesses just don’t leave their families when they’re grown, whereas other felines do. It burns my brain when I hear people say things like “my lion side enjoying socializing.” It’s your human side that enjoys socializing. I’ll be the first to admit that’s the case. I expect this may to be a bit different for males, considering that almost half of male coalitions are actually unrelated to each other.
What lionesses need is their families. The pride is the basic unit of lions. And not the constant company of their families either. While most documentaries and other media tend to show huge prides, the average number of pride members is actually fairly small, around 10-15 for African lions, and even smaller (although this may be mainly due to endangerment) for Asiatic lions. Lionesses also don’t usually spend most of their time with the whole pride, instead breaking into even smaller groups which will often go off by themselves.
Lioness is still independent. Even in hunting, a lot of kills are done by a single lioness, while her relations may watch her. But they’re always there. And they’ll be there when she needs them.
One of the harder parts about being a lioness is balancing the need for the familial support with the natural independence that all cats seem to have. I know that, personally, while I can exist on my own, and do the things I need to do, I still definitely prefer the support of my family, or those individuals that get accepted into my personal “pride,” such as it were, (although there’s few enough of those). When I have to go and talk to strangers, I prefer that at least one of them be in the vicinity, even if they don’t actually do anything. I think this mainly has to do with invading other folk’s territories, though. At home, I’m perfectly fine being by myself, and in areas that count as my extended territory (such as the largest amount of SJSU, Salinas, most of Prunedale, etc.) this is also true. The greater part of lioness’s identity is placed with her family and her home. She needs a place to belong and a structure in which to belong. Lionesses aren’t truly bold, but they don’t have to be. The safest place for a lioness is with her pride.
On the other hand, other felines will leave their mothers when they are grown, and these are the cats that have to be bold. They have to completely leave their families (although I read some daughters will share a territory with their mothers for a while, obviously not many of these can do so), and go out into the world, and make a place for themselves. They have to find and defend their own territories, alone. This will, of course, make them nervous and more skittish than lions in general, but at the same time, they’re should still be considered more bold then lionesses. Lionesses are comfortable. They’re not bold, but then, they don’t have to be. They’re born into the place where they belong, and it’s in that place, that, if things go well, they’ll stay for the rest of their lives. Lionesses formulate an individuality within a family structure, while other cats formulate an individuality completely on their own. Lions are considered, by human standards, to be more bold than other cats, but I consider that to be a more comfortability, a snugness. They don’t run away, and aren’t shy, and express more curiosity and the like simply because, on their territory, with their families, where they are familiar, there’s really very little that’s going to happen to them, so why should they worry? Lionesses will even play among each other, something not even lions do after they’re grown. (That’s certainly true for myself.) Lack of nervousness/worry is really the defining characteristic of lionesses. Get a lioness alone, and away from her home, and she’ll be as skittish as any other cat.
Another rather unique characteristic of lionesses is the structure of their pride. Wolves, humans, and other social mammals, that I’ve seen at least, tend to have hierarchical social structures, with the alpha, and the beta, and so on. Once I had a guy who claimed to be lion-wolf, who was, if I recall, the leader of his “pack,” tell me, when I told him why I didn’t like packs, that, with the human part of me, that I should intristically behave in a hierarchical fashion. While this may be so for others, this simply isn’t true for me. Instinctively, I have a lioness’s idea of social structure, which goes something along these lines: No one in my “pride” is better than me, or lesser than me, and they should all do what they should do. Okay, that sucks. So, I’ll be verbose, and god, is this going to be long. Lions don’t have a hierarchical social structure. They’re cats, for crying out loud. Once a lioness is grown, she’s the equal of every other lioness. There is no alpha, no beta, etc. From what I understand, this is true even for lions. If a group of males is in a pride, and there’s a female in heat, they might fight over her, and one might win, and by win, I mean the other one runs away. But the next day, they’ll be fine again, and equals. They do tend to share, though. Every member of the pride shares and contributes, even the sexist he-males. 😉 While I do understand hierarchical society, having lived in it my entire life, and can exist, maybe thrive, in it, it’s also alien to the most basic part of my brain. I hate displays of dominance, and I equally dislike those of submission, and while I can do both, when I need to, hierarchy is not intristic to me.
And for god’s sake, lions ARE NOT SEXIST. Sexism is a human thing. Lions, like all other species, live to propagate more lions, and maybe have a nice time while they’re down here doing it too. Lionesses are the base of the pride, they do the hunting, and they raise the cubs. Lions give them the cubs, and protect the pride’s territory and the cubs themselves, while they’re being raised. They may eat first, but sometimes they’ll also allow their cubs to eat with them, which lionesses will not do. Lionesses are pragmatic, much more so than lions. Lions will protect their babies, and the rest of the pride. By letting lions deal with those problems as well, lionesses get a free ride, as they’re not risking themselves. Males and females tend to ignore each other, except for eats and sex. While lions may take over a pride, they’re not a part of the pride in the way the females are. Lions do have a function, as do lionesses. A single lioness by herself isn’t going to win against a lion, and perhaps not even two. Both lions and lionesses will want to raise their cubs to adulthood, and together is the best way to do it. Lionesses will hunt most of the food, because, let’s be honest, lions suck at it. They’re big and slow, which makes them good at protecting the pride from other dangers, like strange lions, etc. I’d expect a certain wander-lust in males as well. Their duty of patrolling a pride’s territory, and their natural instincts to leave and find other females cause them to travel a great deal more than the lionesses will. That doesn’t mean that lionesses won’t put the bitch-slap on males if they so choose, particularly when raising cubs. I’ve heard at least one example of lionesses uniting to fight a strange male, and he died of his wounds.