Reading this article really reinforced my hope that one day the patriarchy will be dismantled and a more egalitarian and equal society will exist where women are just as important economically, socially, culturally and linguistically, as men. It has been done before – so why can’t it happen again?
There are some major differences to the more gender equal societies of past indigenous communities, to that of the patriarchal colonial system that we live within today.
Women of the Mi’kmaq people were incredible contributors to society, expected to fish and trap animals for food, set up and break their camp sites, prepared all the food and was responsible for feeding everyone as well as taking care of the children entirely.
Women today are beginning to champion their independence more and are taking on more societal responsibilities as feminism take effect. But these changes are recent and are still only in their infant stages. Typical family models are still based on patriarchal ideas and there is a definite difference of an individual mindset versus a community one. Society isn’t setup to support communities but rather the individual or pairs of individuals and makes it very hard for women to be able to support herself entirely where as the single man, or bachelor idea, is more popular and accepted as normal.
The Innu of Northern Quebec had societies that effectively balanced the gender relations and where “men’s and women’s roles were complementary and equally essential.” (Keough, Campbell 17) Western society enforces a standard that prevents something like this from happening. centuries of subordination and oppression makes it difficult for women to overcome the boundaries that enforce the binary divide.
The idea of Two Spirit really lifts my heart and makes me wish with all my might that it was a universal idea. Growing up as a Tomboy myself, I consistently felt pressured to adhere to certain ideas of what a girl was supposed to be. It is a pressure that has plagued me my entire life and I can’t help but wonder if the idea of “masculinity and femininity were accommodated in one body.” (Keough, Campbell 19) was a universal idea, then maybe I wouldn’t have had such a hard time and feel more comfortable with my gender expression and identity.
Campbell, Lara & Keough, Willeen G., “Gender and Cultural Diversity in the Early Contact Period.”, Gender History: A Canadian Perspective, Oxford University Press. September 23rd, 2013.