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Metropolitan Gender, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 862

Essay

During the times of European colonial expansion it was clear that gender roles were an important factor in the justification for how the colonies expanded.  This impacted both male and females but the female gender was singled out for harsher treatment.  This was particularly evident amongst colonial women and how they were both perceived and utilized as part of the colonial expansion.  Both Gender and Class was important to the Colonialists in the determination of overseas rule and development of the provinces.

French Colonialism in Africa

Hubertine Auclert reported about the poor treatment of Arabic women in the French colonies in Africa ( specifically Algeria in French N. Africa) and how this was tolerated by the French Administration.  The Arabic people do not assimilate with French Colonial rule but instead indulge in acts of polygamy and barbaric treatment of their women who they treat as chattels. This creates a confrontation in the Christian laws of colonial civilisation and development between the Arabic fusion which is considered undesirable towards colonial development. It is considered that that the legalities of this must be addressed in order to avoid civil unrest in the expansion of the colony.  (Auclert, Page1 ).

British Colonialism in India

Annie Besant was active in the women’s rights movement and reported on the conditions of Education of Indian girls in British colonial India.  This particularly focused on the Caste system in India and the area in Madras where she worked.  The British occupying forces were kept distinct from the Indian native children and were educated in English colonial schools. This perpetuated the class distinction system and prevented fusion with the locals.  Besant advocated reform for India to the extent that it should become a self-governing nation with allegiance to the Crown and have a degree of self-determination and this should extend to improvements of women’s rights, standards of Education and guarantee religious tolerance.  Besant felt that the Indian administration had been too unduly influenced by the British administration and that it was skewed more in favour of men whilst ignoring the rights of the women. (Besant).

German Colonies in Southern Africa

The Germans took control of territories in South Africa later that the English, French and Portuguese colony expansion programs.  The Germans subsidized women to move to the colonies on the basis  of using them as brides and servant labour.  This essentially took Middle Class German women to remote areas in Africa in order to establish them in Farm dwellings. The concept was based upon trying to ensure the German Colonists remained in marriage to German Europeans and refrained from mixing with the black tribes.  It was also hoped that this would promote the building of schools and promote German education amongst the children of the colonists.

A great deal of racism took place between the Germans and the native African people who they believed to be racially inferior.  (Besant, Page 332).

British Colonialism in Victorian Times

When Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 Britain was sat the height of its colonial empire.  Women were migrating to varying countries throughout the know empire.  Some viewed this as adventurism and the scope for improved opportunities. Many women adopted roles in Missionaries and played an important role in bringing western evangelism and philosophy to the native cultures.  This was particularly so in Africa where the native religions and cultures were reviled.  In India and South Africa there were lower class women that moved out to serve as prostitutes. Many of these served multi-racial clientele and as such violated the integration conditions put forward by the British Government.  This was particularly frowned upon by the Military because to produced a range of diseases that were transferred to the occupying soldiers. (Burton, Page 178).

Women in the Colonies

Many women that moved to the varying colonies came from middle and working class backgrounds.  They were primarily motivated because of the harsh financial conditions in the UK and hoped for better opportunities in the colonies.  This concept was promoted by the British Government as a means of exporting so called `redundant women ‘as a surplus commodity to fuel colonial expansionism. There were a large number of overseas agencies that focused upon the recruitment of women to help meet the burgeoning demand of labour in the colonies. This included the need for nurses, governesses, servants and potential brides.  Life in the early American colonies was very hard because of the limited resources and the need for everyone to pitch in. Particular demands were placed upon the women colonists. Many of the women were expected to perform domestic chores of sewing, cooking and tending animals.  The women were somewhat stereotyped by the men as being the weaker sex and as such not physically strong or mentally stable as the men.  This limited many of their rights and privileges which included such items as:  the right to vote, inability to hold public office and unable to participate in local community decision making.

Works Cited

Auclert, Huberetine. Les Femmes arabes en algerie. Paris: Societe d. Editions Litteraires, 1900.

Besant, Annie. Wake up, India: A place for social reform. Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1913.

Burton, Antoinette. Women and Domestic Imperial Culture: The case of Victorian Britain. Chapewl Hill NC: North Carolina Press, 1994.

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