A fan-produced 7th Sea supplement has just been released for the Fate Witches of Vodacce, the Renaissance Italy analogue. Renaissance Italy analogue, I repeat, full of Machiavellian Great Gaming goodness, with treachery always a hair's-breadth away and intrigue the order of the day.
The noblewomen are the only ones with magic in this country, and it's the ability to see and affect relationships between people. For fear of this, their husbands tend to keep them cloistered, asking them to use their powers only when and as he directs.
It is established that, behind the curtains of the women's quarters, there is an entire other power structure in Vodacce. This supplement decided to tackle it.
They're a happy-shiny sisterhood, you see. They share their secret with each other, and by the power of gossip, these secrets eventually circulate to all the noblewomen in the country.
Did these people not go to high schools with girls? Have they never heard of Queen Bees and Wannabes? Look at all the related books listed there, on the topic of How Girls and Women Exercise Tyrannical Power over Each Other.
The "men form hierarchies, women form networks" meme has been taken way, way too far. And personal social networks (to which that meme refers) are going to be different from a nation-spanning socio-political framework. Sure, maybe in this setting, a noblewoman will share her secrets with her sister (from her birth family) and her daughter (part of her husband's family), but she has darn little reason to bandy them about to the enemies of either family. Because sure thing, the women in those families would be more than happy to take those secrets and use them to utterly destroy her husband and sons, leaving her without protection and support.
Argh. And while this particular groan-inducing supplement was male-authored, female writers are not immune to the siren call of sisterhood, either. Who is making this Kool-Aid?