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Gender, Religion And Race In The New World

1078 words - 4 pages

History of the Americas and the history of what became known as the New World demonstrates an array of diversity that existed amongst the different cultures, their views regarding gender roles and the intertwining of economics, religion and race. This diversity ranged from the holistic existence of native americans to the traditions that the white man brought with him from Europe. Based upon history, one could easily assume that gender roles inferred unspoken rules that ultimately controlled all other aspects of life. Native American societies believed that women of each tribe held sacred and valuable places in society that accompanied great responsibility as it related to the every day well-being of a tribe as a whole. Women in Native American tribes were highly skilled and active leaders through their farming abilities and trade responsibilities. Native American adults demonstrated an unspoken respect through the sharing of these life-sustaining roles. Unfamiliar with the societal structure natives exhibited, gender roles among emigrants in New England and the Chesapeake were reminiscent of the roles that men and women maintained in England. These traditional roles defined the structure of society for most men, women and families that made their way to America. European societal structure maintained that men were the natural born leaders, designed to be at the forefront of business dealings, family units and at the head of the church. Women assumed roles as the primary caretaker of the home and forfeited responsibilities beyond those already defined.

In 1634, Anne Hutchinson’s presence in the New World was an exception to this expectation of women. Anne Hutchinson was an educated woman who’s ideals breached what was considered normal and acceptable as a female. With omniscient claims, she vocally questioned the Puritan belief of predestination which alarmed Puritan heads of church. Alarm from religious leaders instigated investigation into her activities and teachings among both sexes. These activities were admonished and deemed extremely inappropriate based primarily on the fact that she was a female. Her position in the community was exacerbated by her theological views on the value of good works. She believed that if good works were not a consideration upon entrance into heaven, then good works were therefore pointless. Her presence alarmed Puritan leaders and threatened to disrupt and unravel their teachings and beliefs. Anne Hutchinson, along with Roger Williams, another who expressed beliefs that strayed beyond original Puritan belief, were excommunicated from their communities. Their exclusion was a way for Puritan leaders to silence their ideas and teachings in order to, avoid further controversy among community members and the church. The suppression of Anne Hutchinson’s and Roger William’s views revealed that religious persecution in the New World was not far removed from what was occurring in Europe and cast a...

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