Month,Date and Year
Whenwe gained independence, it was declared that “we hold these truthsto be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they areendowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that amongthese are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”1The Constitution itself shows insignificance of the role women playedin the 18thcentury such that the society then, thought that when the word “men”was used, represented the general perspective of the community. Thisis a result of a men chauvinist community. It is logical that thesociety then considered men as instruments of power as they occupiedthose positions that were of influence and when that part of theconstitution was being written. It might be that men were the onlyindividuals present in the making of the constitution. Therefore,women during the 18thand 19thwere regarded inferior as compared to men.
Macaulayconfirms these fears when she writes the Letteron Education.2She opposes the thinking that women are naturally inferior to men anidea that was fronted by Rousseau. She claimed that this inferiorityaffected the female happiness and their importance. As a result,there was a prejudice that disadvantaged women in the society. Shebelieved in equality between men and women as she advised parents notto confine their daughters to what is regarded as ornamental part ofeducation nor should they deny their sons the grace of education.3She wanted women and men to be brought up together and granting themsame opportunities. On the other hand, Rousseau thinking shows howthe society perceived women then. He describes women as innatelyinferior to men. Macaulay in her book Letteron Educationreplied to Rousseau statement in the 18th century denouncing hisideologies of women’s inferiority.4
Moreover,in the 19thcentury,women occupied little space in the society. Through the eyes ofHopkins, one can note that women play little role in the society justas they did in the 18th.She illustrates this by narrating an experience they had with thewhite people. The story revolves around his grandfather who wanted tomake peace with the white people, but at first he did not succeed5.She compares the frustrations that his grandfather went through withher life when she says that “I can imagine his feelings, for I havedrunk deeply from the same cup.”6In the Hopkins’s society, women are depicted as ignorant as theyburied their children for fear to be eaten by the whites while thegrandfather who is a representation of men, is seen being active asthe leader of the community in trying to talk with the white people.
Also,in this narrative when the grandfather decides to go to Chicago, hegives the mandate of leadership to his son, the author’s father.Little is communicated about what was women’s role in leadership.Women roles that have been clearly elaborated was gathering wildseeds and grinding them.7The author also shows the role of women in the society when shedescribes how her mother carried her little sister running as theywere afraid of white men when they heard they were coming. Moreover,when the author’s grandfather returns from California, men areactively involved in hunting, fishing, playing football and anythingelse they wished to do, while women did the same.8What captures the reader’s attention is the fact that women playedtheir games as they had nothing better to do.9
Thus,from Hopkins’s narrative, nothing has changed when we compare therole of a woman in the society with the 18thcentury. Women play a passive role in the story and the activities ofthe community, while men take an active role as elaborated by theleadership of Hopkins grandfather. This proves that women are notregarded as important in the society as men.
"Excerptof the Declaration of Independence." July 1776, 1.
Hopkins,Sarah W. "Life Among the Piutes." Chapter1,1883, 1-4.
Macaulay,Catherine. "Letters on Education." 1787, 1.
1 Excerpt of the Declaration of Independence," July 1776
2 Catherine Macaulay, "Letters on Education," 1787:1
3 Macaulay 1
4 Ibid 1
5 Sarah W. Hopkins, "Life Among the Piutes," Chapter 1, 1883:1