Women's Role in Colonial Latin America Politics

In many culture of the world, women have always been treated as second-class citizens inferior to men. Women were limited in their access to the occupational field and their roles are constricted mainly in the domestic field as to raise children and home-making. This idea has rooted since the beginning human civilization and has further undermined the roles of women in society throughout human's history. As Lavrin (1995:1) put it, “assumption that the restrictions imposed on the female sex by law and custom were needed to maintain the integrity of family and society”.

In some society, this discrimination is often enforced under the guise of religion. In the Islamic world, religious restrictions on the activities of women of reproductive age tend to keep them near home, where they often engage in domestic food gardening and especially in food processing (Nye 1993:13) The Culture of Honor In order to have comprehensive view of the gender issue in the time of the colonial Latin America, we will examine how the honor was defined and defended

In the case of Latin America, the patriarchal system of the society has formulated the culture of 'honor' which dictates the administration of the society and its individual lives. Although this set of value concerning the culture of honor apply to both men and women, in practice, they are often used as a means to further diminish the status and roles of women which in turn aimed at maintaining the status quo of the male dominance.

Nye (1993:13) argues that these claims of honor often were necessarily an attempt to place others in a position of inferiority. This system was usually manifested in legal codes, social gatherings, seating arrangements at public events The culture of honor in the time of the Colonial Latin America is believed to have rooted from the cultural concept which was based on the Iberian legal and customary practices.

These system suggest that adultery and the initiation of a sexual relationship or remarriage within a year after a husband's death as dishonorable (Johnson 1998:4) Furthermore, there is this issue of biological differences that kind of legitimizing the gender discrimination issue. This aspect has been used to influence the cultural norms in a patriarchal world in relation to the idea of honor. In this case, women are always in losing end since they cannot deny their physical nature.

Johnson and Lipsett-Rivera (1998:82) argue that this biological difference is the main factor which established parameters for sexuality and procreation and influenced cultural norms that defined the presence or absence of honor. According to them, there were several logical explanation which accounts for this: First, unlike females, males could never physically demonstrate proof of their virginity at the time of first intercourse, so male sexual abstinence was never an issue of honor.

Secondly, since males never become pregnant, they never had any potential to manifest overt signs of their sexual activity in public, and so the ensuing consequences of intercourse never directly threatened their personal honor. Johnson and Lipsett-Rivera (1998:82) further contrasted female honor which could rest on tangible proofs of virginity, and women physically showed that they had been sexually active when they became pregnant or gave birth. Women who consented to intercourse risked their personal honor in ways that men could not.