Roles of Women

            The traditional views on women have always been challenged despite the everlasting beliefs of how a lady is supposed to act. Time and time again in the media, the arts, work fields, politics, in our community, and even in our own household one can witness the battle of women trying to overwrite pre-judgments and norms. Books such as The Hummingbirds Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea, The Declaration of Sentiments, and essays from philosophers can show us how times have changed.  The views once imposed are decaying, as women rights become dominant and marking major keystones in the history of woman suffrage.

            Women are viewed as fragile, beautiful, loving, bossy, emotional, weak, lady-like, mothers, objects, inferior to men, stay at home servant, and many other things depending on what culture one were to look at. Around the world women are treated sometimes lesser, stoned to death for “crimes”, not hired for jobs due to its gender, lesser pay, discrimination, female sexuality is sometimes tabooed, etc. The female gender is seen as the weaker link who need a man to take care of them while obeying orders, being always in the house, procreating, “making a man a sandwich”, and not having any dreams of her own except being a stay home mom and wife with no opinion.

            Through the history many individuals have taken into their own hands discussing the role of the women. Sigmund Freud in his essay Civilization and Its Discontent went as far as to say how women were the enemy of civilization. According to Freud, women are conservative filled with loving thoughts when it comes to new cultural trends. Women represent interest of family and sexuality only and that business is only for men. Culture and the world itself send women to the background making her a bit resentful. Women according to Freud are less capable of things for men have no mental limitation (Freud, 1929, p. 25). Thomas Jefferson also had the same traditional views on women and forbid them to vote since they had small minds and were to be confined in childbearing and housekeeping as well as attending to the needs of any men. Women were to be excluded from all public affairs since they were useless and served more as a mother or wife. (Jewett, 1997).

            Politics in the United States are also viewing woman as a childbearing corporation. Certain politicians and political scientists like Rush Limbaugh are saying that women are only meant to give birth and with the use of birth control and being educated makes women look like sluts. Some of the women cannot afford a child right now and need to take the pill. Some simply don’t want a family. They cannot control women in such way. Religion, politics, and self-opinion, should never be mixed with each other. “Well the truth is women are only equipped to give birth. What do women know about legislating birth control?” This was said by one of the members of the U.S House of Rep. in the GOP hearing earlier this 2012.

            Meanwhile, in the Chicano culture, men and traditional beliefs are also very manly and sexist. “She is an ethnic minority, she is woman who is universally oppressed by men, and her Chicano heritage exaggerates this male domination over women. Women across the vast majority of cultures are considered subordinate and are universally oppressed by her male counterpart. In addition, there is also an internal oppression caused by the Chicana heritage. Some identify this as machismo and caused by the colonization of the Chicano” stated Erin Lambers and Kelly Kieft (UMich, 2012). Within the Chicano culture there is a culture of “machismo” which means sexist or masculinity syndrome. Men have to be the providers while women must attend to the things at home, the children, be passive and submissive, follow religious Catholic rules, and serve him, failure to do so makes the man angry and violence towards the female counter part might occur, as it has been in many cases. Chicano culture has a sense of family values that must be kept and making woman inferior is one of them.

In the Chicano novel, The Hummingbirds Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea offers a realistic picture of how the woman is supposed to act, behave, speak, and even what to wear. The novel also makes humanity witness the beauty and strength of women and how powerful they can truly be if they are set free. Teresita and Huila show us the different sides of this little world showing how a woman can be gifted by being a curandera and helping people, having the hearts of many, and giving the gift of hope. Even as to become named the most dangerous women in Mexico in reference to Teresita. But on the other side, tradition tells us women are only meant to be in the kitchen, for children, and to attending to men. Those who are different are abolished and looked at badly even in the eyes of a Roman Priest. The sermon of this believed to be priest/pope makes it appear as if any women who is a fighter, filled with love, and truth as well as trying to help humanity even more so than a man could ever do is a harlot from Satan (Urrea, 420-421). For the less religious, this harlot could mean that she is the scum of the earth and a fake. The gender implications found in this sermon from the “heretic” priest are simply that women cannot be stronger than man in any sense. It is not viewed right that women hold the reigns of households or have the power of being a leader. A woman cannot heal, have her own thoughts/actions/words, education, and be an individual standing tall even when married.

            Through the book we see the roles of women change from the norm with characters such as Huila, Cateyana, Teresita, Dona Loreto, and even Gabriela Cantua. To start of with Huila, she is intelligent, wise, and powerful, speaks her own mind, and has direct connection with nature, spiritual world, and that of humans. She is a curandera and has the ability to heal whomever by using natural remedies and prayers, help women give birth, and cure men. Huila always had a crude sense of humor/speech and an attitude, people were surprised that this holy woman with a shawl and shotgun was a servant for Don Tomas; that very same woman who’s blessed hands brought babies to the world, drive wicked spirits away, made remedies with teas, could ever work for someone (Urrea 47).  Her power just like the other women in the novel seem to come from God which is more than acceptable in the highly religious/superstitious community. She is an inspiration for other women and a big help for men. 

            Teresita, the daughter of the hummingbird and the most special and powerful woman in Mexico who even threaten the president and other governmental/authority figures but, cured many and brought back hope and belief. Teresita is the daughter of Don Tomas, student of Huila, and what The People call a saint and a revolutionary figure. She has many powers; she first starts with the power of healing through herbs/nature, prayer, and being a midwife. This wonderful girl refused to be like the typical daughter of a higher ranking person, Teresita “refused to wear a petti-coat. She did not like hats, however, and rejected out of hand the small pillbox-and-veil. She refused to stick out her pinkie when sipping. It was, after all, her body” (Urrea, 244, 245). After some time she was raped and died but as some days past she resurrected and was granted even more healing powers, this time with a simple touch. Teresita must be considered the most dangerous woman in Mexico due to her death and reanimation bringing her healing powers more abundant than before. People all over go to see her because she is so powerful and a saint and they want to be healed. She is considered to be a queen and people will listen to her. President Diaz feared revolution from the people due to her and even turbulence in his presidency for she has power over the people.

            Dona Loreto (Don Tomas’ first wife) and even Gabriela Cantua (Don Tomas’ second wife) show in certain instances a breaking of the traditional norm. Dona Loreto is very vengeful when found out that Don Tomas had cheated on her and had many children on the side. She had the right to do so however, she would break things, throw things, and insult everyone and everything when seeing Tomas (Urrea, 206). The visits paid to the house of Tomas were also very gruesome. Someone might expect her to act lady like and just sit back while her husband defamed her very soul. Gabriela Cantua was very lady like in the entire novel except when it came time to defend the house and Teresita from the military and people wanting to kill her she was loaded with an arm ready to shoot anyone who walked into the door (Urrea, 441).

There have been many powerful women just like Teresita might have been in real life. Some of the women that have changed the world are Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Austen, Gabrielle Chanel, Princes Diana, and Mother Teresa, the many women in the army and armed forces, Hillary Clinton, Amelia Earhart, Ella Fitzgerald, Anne Frank, and many other smart wonderful women.

            Despite the rather old conservative ideas many had upon women even the gender itself, the times and reasoning’s of the human mind are changing and challenging the traditional views upon women. The world as we know it has been slowly changing in a great manner to favorite women however, not in all places. In the U.S women are able to sometimes get an education/job equivalent of that of a man, be in the business field and be even more powerful. They don’t need to depend on a man to take care of them, and take the initiative in many things in life. There are some women out there who lack education (due to poverty), or that culture forbids them to gain suffrage, just as well as women who are not completely aware that they have rights. In some cases, women are still viewed by objects and less, for there are men out there who are sexist, with too much pride on their hands, who believe they can boss/push a women around or treat them as slaves.

            Education and the life expectations of women have in fact changed through decades but we have to keep in mind that not in all places has this been the case. Education is now given to women of all ages despite the profession and aids to study are even available. It is required for everyone this includes women to study. The expectations of life are now different for woman now have the choice of working, taking care of themselves, getting married or not, having children, divorce, or having any kind of power.

            In 1848, the Declaration of Sentiments was signed; it consisted of a document giving women rights and suffrage. More than 60 women and 40 men signed it. These women who signed the document became role models and revolutionary mothers for many women of all ages and decades.” He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes, with impunity, provided they are done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master – the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement” (Declaration of Sentiments, 1848).  In the year 1919, The 19th Amendment was passed into the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote setting a major keystone for women. In these years women of all ethnicities have been succeeding in the work place and economics making them the most hired and paid employees. For example as of 2008, management and professional occupations have 52,761 females; Service Occupations, 24,451; Sales and Office, 35,544. Natural resources, construction, and maintenance

Occupations, 14,806 (Census, 2010).

            Women Rights and laws are also on the rise as women are constantly asking for equality. Governmental services now offer various plan parenthood clinics, women services (clinics to help with body issues or being a mother). Other rights and educational services that are on the rise are the awareness of breast cancer, rape, abortion, reproduction, employment, body rights, and even childcare. A group that is very potent and always eager to help fellow women is the feminist movement and feminists themselves. One of the main groups that are always defending and helping women is called the Feminist Majority Foundation. This foundation helps to advocate many issues including various campaigns for women around the world, leadership programs, scholarships, education, body, life, and policies. “The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), which was founded in 1987, is a cutting edge organization dedicated to women’s equality, reproductive health, and non-violence. In all spheres, FMF utilizes research and action to empower women economically, socially, and politically. Our organization believes that feminists – both women and men, girls and boys – are the majority, but this majority must be empowered” (FMF, 2012).

            The powers of women are something heavenly for such creature with fragile hands can cure; give life, fight, and even kill. Traditions will always remain but as the world and minds evolve the barriers and false judgments and expectations upon women as well as men decay slowly. “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union…. Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less. “ ~Susan B. Anthony







Works Cited

Census. (2008). Employed Civilians by Occupation, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin:2008. Census. Gov. 2012. Retrieved From:

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2010). 300 Women who Changed the World. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2012. Retrieved From:

Feminist Majority Foundation. (2012). FMF. 2012. Retrieved From:

Jewett, T.O. (1997). Thomas Jefferson’s Views on Women. Early America. 2012. Retrieved from:  

Lambers E. & Kief K. Chicana Feminist Theory and Chicana Feminist Issues. University of Michigan. 2012. Retrieved From:

National Park Service (2010). Declaration of Sentiments.  National Park Service. 2012. Retrieved From:

Urrea, Luis.A. The Hummingbirds Daughter. New York: Little, Brown and   Company, 2006. Print.