Blog #3: Gender Equity in Indigenous Cultures

     After reading the article “Gender and Cultural Diversity in the Early Contact Period”, I have learnt not only more about the European laws at the time but also the structure of the Aboriginal’s society. For one, the main difference between the two societies (Aboriginal and European) is that the European society follows a patriarchal structure, whereas most of the Aboriginal societies follow a more egalitarian structure. Not only are women treated more equally within the Aboriginal societies, but they are also much more appreciated and respected than the women belonging to the European societies.

     For instance, within the Mi’kmaw and Iroquoian societies, the women were not viewed/treated the same as the women within the European societies. Both the Mi’kmaw and Iroquoian societies emphasize the importance of women and their role in the societies function. In the Mi’kmaw societies the women’s duties included taking care of the children, set up camp, fish, cooking and most importantly their opinions were much desired when it came to big decisions. Whereas, in the Iroquoian women were responsible for often times choosing the men who would become apart of the Council. Nonetheless, even in the Iroquoian societies did women both have a lot of authority. Although both of these societies are matrilocal, they do share aspects within the patrilocal Aboriginal societies. In the sense, where both societies do not favor one gender over the other (like in the patriarchal structure), rather they are seen as equally important within their society.

     One of the things that had surprised me about the Aboriginal societies is their belief of “two-spirits”. A concept by which can be explained as a person sharing both a feminine and masculine spirit in themselves. Not only did the fact that  these ideals existed so long ago surprise me, but also the fact that they were accepting of such an ahead of the times way of thinking. Not only were those who were “two-spirited” accepted in their communities, they were praised. Later on taking important roles in their society (depending on the group), from being healers, seers or those who would teach traditions to future generations orally. We can see the contrast between the societies way of thinking as the Aboriginal societies had a more openminded way of thinking whereas the European’s society was very conservative. For example, in Aboriginal societies, having sexual relations before marriage was not seen as doing any harm, whereas in the European mentality, having premarital relations decreases your worth. 

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