In my essay I will try to provide a comparative and contrasting analysis of the problem encountered by families during relocation. In most historical studies we are, more often than not, provided with a very masculine approach to the subject. Historians have generally presented the public with information from a male perspective. However, rarely do we hear more detailed and more insightful examinations which offer us different perspectives. For such an alternative approach one can to turn to the essays collection on U. S. Women’s History.
Particularly, I shall deal with two essays – ‘Cherokee Women and the Trail of Tears’ by Theda Perdue and “Japanese American Women during World War II,” by Valerie Matsumoto. In Theda Perdue’s work we are given a very enlightening look into the lives of Cherokee women in regards to their power and their position throughout history. In her paper Theda Perdue’s opinion is based on the central concept that “the story of most Cherokee women is not cultural transformation… but remarkable cultural persistence. ” However, she denies that fact that those women did not experience significant changes in their status and condition.
If, however, we contemplate on “other indices of cultural change, including production, reproduction, religion, and perceptions of self, as well as political and economic institutions,” then we receive an absolutely different image of Cherokee women over time: they embody the symbol of cultural persistence. The author makes some attempt to expound the changes in Cherokee life for men and women as a ‘cultural retooling’, by which it is meant that males became predominantly engaged in external affairs of the tribe (wars, commercial enterprises, treaties) and women maintained the order and repose of internal life within the tribe.
While women became dependent on men in some respects,” she notes, “men also relied increasingly on women to plant corn, perpetuate lineages, and maintain village life. ” Perdue also argues that despite the invasion of whites, the male takeover of tribal leadership and institutions by the end of the eighteenth century, and relocation to the west by 1839, their distinguishing culture survived. In her arguments for persistence and survival of Cherokee women’s culture Perdue is very convincing. However, women’s power within internal and domestic spheres was predetermined not so much by male’s involvement in political life as by simple necessity.
In marriages with white males these women interpreted themselves not as a part of Cherokee people, but sooner as ‘members of clans and lineages’. Thus, in conclusion, Theda Perdue states that history of Cherokee women was not the history of cultural apostasy, but one of “persistence and change, conservatism and adaptation, tragedy and survival. ” The next example of the story of people whose lives were out of their own control and under the power of the U. S. government is Japanese Americans during World War II.
Valerie Matsumoto in her article “Japanese American Women during World War II” narrates the true story of women and their families who were forced to enter internment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. These people were inhumanely taken to concentration camps to be detained to ensure they would not conspire against the U. S. government. This article offers us specific accounts of families and the way in which the dynamic changed within particular family units, eventually revealing that these American citizen’s lives were put on hold merely because the U. S. overnment wanted it to be so.
Matsumoto describes how hard life in the camps was for people, especially women. They endured shortages of supplies, bad food, horrible conditions, and the dissipation of family bonds. During the relocation men, women, and children all worked and were all paid the same amount. This had an effect on their old traditions. Many of the second generation women decided they would marry for love, instead participating in the tradition of arranged marriages. The relocation obviously had an eroding effect on their traditional family values.
Very interesting thing is what the two readings share. For great number of the people who lived in the concentration camps leaving became a tremendous motivation to get an education or jobs outside the camps. Thanks to the education those women attained, many were able to get jobs that had the same amount of pay that the man working next to her got. This goes against everything that traditional Japanese culture is based upon with the man being the dominant provider and the woman being the submissive follower.
Women used this as a chance to move themselves into jobs that men had a monopoly on before the war and proved that the work a woman did was as good if not better than that of a man. This made the people understand that the work that a woman does is as important as the work a man does. In this case it helped break down a restrictive way of life and women who were placed in the camps or reservations benefited in the long run. These two articles are alike because they both deal with women that face discrimination due to their heritage.
All of these deal with the fears that people had about immigrants coming into this country. Both of these articles share traditions being shattered. In Perdue’s case women’s role was persistence and survival of Cherokee culture while in Matsumoto’s case, the tradition of modesty was challenged due to shared latrines and short partitioned walls in the “apartments”. There were also challenges in the gender roles due to everyone working and earning the same wages. Both of these articles were very powerful pieces. These women were very brave to endure these harsh conditions.Relocation_and_Family