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Effect of Gender Imbalance on Women's Status in the Colonail Period in New France - Essay Example

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Effect of Gender Imbalance on Women’s Status in the Colonial Period in ‘New France’ Women have mostly been a victim of gender imbalance in the course of history. They have been adjudged as the ‘weaker sex’ based on their physical frailty as compared to men…
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Effect of Gender Imbalance on Womens Status in the Colonail Period in New France
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"Effect of Gender Imbalance on Women's Status in the Colonail Period in New France"

Download file to see previous pages It is no different in the history of women’s status in Canada or ‘New France’. Gender imbalance in the colonial times put women in an ambivalent position of being valued as well as rejected if they do not come up to men’s expectations. This paper drew much information from cases published from the colonial era as primary sources as well as the works of Peter N. Moogk, Sylvia Van Kirk and Saliha Belmessous, historians who chronicled the culture of New France in Canada during the colonial times as secondary sources. It focused on how the gender imbalance at that time affected the status of women. During the colonial period in what has come to be known as New France, gender balance was askew in terms of number, as it was recounted by Belmessous1 that only 1,772 women emigrated to Canada as compared to 12,621 men, between the years 1608 and 1699. This sexual imbalance continued on till the end of the century. It is due to this lack of women that French colonial officers encouraged native Amerindian women to join the convent for their education to form them into proper ladies and be married off to French settlers instead of native men. It also implied that the convent-bred women had a great influence on the French men to be more cultured. Van Kirk2 explained that intermarriages, also known as “miscegenation” between French colonizers and the native Amerindians failed because of differing motives of the two cultures. The French Jesuits who encouraged native women to join the Ursuline convent admitted that they wanted the native women to be indoctrinated with their culture. One Jesuit offered that the intermarriage’s purposes were: “to make them like us, to give them the knowledge of the true God, . . . and that the marriages . . . were to be stable and perpetual.”3 This meant that native women should be Christianized and introduced to a gender-role that included spinning, sewing, knitting, taking care of animals, etc. that made them acceptable to their French mates. Native Huron chiefs believed the idea of intermarriage was favourable to them because the French traders make good Hurons, but questioned the French officials about bride price and their women’s right to property and divorce which were part and parcel of their own culture.4 These chiefs were made to understand that the native women would benefit much from such marriages through the teachings of the Ursuline nuns. However, only a small number of the native women were transformed and not many were interested in being successfully converted, so they were not considered acceptable as “founding mothers of New France” 5. The reverse of Native men “marrying out” to French women were looked down upon, as it was considered marrying beneath themselves. This is because a woman who married into an Indian tribe became an Indian herself and renounced her original culture. On the other hand, an Indian woman who married a foreigner legally ceased to be an Indian, losing all her rights to Indian status as well as her children.6 Thus, by the mid-nineteenth century, intermarriage became a usual practice of colonization and became a way of removing Aboriginal/Indian women from their own native cultures. Governor Vaudreuil7 justified his hostility against the intermarriage of French men and Amerindian women in saying that it divided the French men as they were integrated into their Amerindian wives’ clans. There was a great possibility that such action involved intertribal feuds and could have pitted the French ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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