In the Colonial America time period, the understanding of sexuality within the colonies changed time after time. Each colony had their own set of beliefs as well as values in all aspects of life. More times than not, you understood the beliefs and values through the actions and behavior of each member within that colony. Within this Colonial America time period, New Spain, New England and New France all used their religious beliefs to form as well as enforce laws and regulations towards each gender for all members of the community to obey.
At the time of settlement New England, New Spain, and New France wanted the land Native Americans and Indians had claimed. In order for the three colonies to take over or settle on the same land as the Natives and Indians, laws and values needed to be established. Without laws or regulations, the church authorities would not be able to enforce the community to have the same beliefs and values. However enforcing these laws that everyone would follow was hard due to the difference between the newcomers and the ones already settled on the land.
Often these differences cause conflict or fights over who would have more power and ownership of the land. With the need of structure, the church began to construct laws that control the behavior and sexuality of all citizens settling on the land. Although New England, New France, and New Spain had different religious beliefs each colony built and administered laws through their church and religious authorities. However, these laws were differentiated for each gender. Throughout the colonies, one aspect of life was known of through laws and regulations.
Within all three colonies, gender roles within marriage were all different however administer through the common enforcers known as laws. New Spain rewarded those who promoted interracial marriage. Men were seen as heroes when pursuing a relationship with women outside of his ethnic standings. The colony of New Spain believes that interracial marriage encouraged improvement within particular areas such as political, military, and religious aspects along with social interest (Castaneda, 50).
Serra who was known as the appointed governor suggested that those who marry native women should be approved to the opportunity of remaining permanently attached to his newly wives mission (Castaneda, 50). With this idea, the governor believes that this newly and interesting law or ruling could help solve all problems of society such as the political issues and economic issues. New Spain simply honored just the men in taking such an honorable action by marrying native women. In contrast to this belief, however, the New French colony believed otherwise. The French colony strongly disliked the idea of interracial marriages.
Interracial marriages for either men or women were looked down upon. In the colony of New France, they believe if interracial marriage continued, then more interracial children will be born. With this process continuing, not only the French population but the Native population as well would lose power to the mix racial group (Spear, 62). In order to control the power between French and natives, the French believed they needed to stop all interaction sexually with the Natives. In the result, the French made a law restricting the marriage and relationship involvement between the two racial groups.
With the control of who can marry who, the French can maintain their power of their own colony filled with French members (Spear, 60). Both New Spain and New France made laws and regulations due to the gender aspect of interracial marriage, however, New England saw marriage in a different view. New England stressed the men overall power within marriage more than the women. The English strongly believe that marriage was more about power and gender roles within the colony than seeking a relationship with outside natives (English). Within the English colony, they enforced the understanding that men held most of the power with the
Puritan society. Within a marriage, the men were known as the household leader, while the women just are seen as entitled to their husbands (English). While women in the English colony were seen as property in a way, they had little to no freedom like the Spanish and French women did. Although all three colonies saw marriage in a different light, they each enforced laws and norms that each gender would have to obey by. Secondly, the three colonies established laws and regulations through the actions of wanting or pursuing a divorce in a relationship.
In the New Spain colony, the court believes that men and women could continue with the actions of divorcing one another, however, there was restriction followed by the result of divorce (Johnson). If the two parties agree to the actions of divorce, then the two parties were forbidden to remarry for the rest of their lives (Spear 62). In the Spanish colony, it wasn’t unusual for either gender to appeal for divorce. Divorce was often seen as a mutual decision because society and law acceptance to the idea of divorce (ohnson). Along with the Spanish colony, the French colony neither accepted nor unaccepted the idea of divorce.
They believe that in the actions of divorce, women received more beneficial cost to the action. Within French divorce, the women were known to receive half of the male’s estates while her family receives the other half of his estates (Spear, 63). In this case, we see that women have more power in the divorce the men do. Not only did the women of the relationship have a reward but her family as well received positive outcomes in the result of divorce (Spear 59). While the women of the Spanish were rewarded the inability to remarry, the women of the French were reward with the earning so estates.
Even though these colonies showed different thoughts and beliefs they were both regulated through laws whether in a positive or negative outcome. While divorce was acceptable to both men and women in the Spanish colony, it was unacceptable in the English colony. If the man and woman committed to a relationship with each other, it was unethical to separate with divorce in the religious viewpoints of the English colony (Eller). When it came to the idea of divorce, if a man pursued the action then he would be seen as betraying his own relationship with his wife (English).
However, if the women were to decide to pursue in a diverse, she would be seen as betraying not only her husband but her community as well. The main reason the English decided on this law and the norm was due to the understanding of adultery. Adultery was known to be a threat to marriage in the English colony. Adultery was a way to betray the community and your marriage relationship. Although all three colonies believe in different divorce aspect in their communities, they each created laws that they thought would help build a structure within their communities.
Although marriage and divorce had laws within the gender aspect resulting to the restriction of moral beliefs, gender roles had laws as well. In all three colonies, the women were stressed to be a community model and helper. The women lived to follow the men since they were considered the imperfect version of men (Brown, 82). Women were encouraged to maintain the household while also encouraging the development of faith and moral values (Shannon). Women throughout all colonies never had the primary power of the community however the men did.
The men were considered to have had the hard jobs. Men were known as the educated property owners whose goals was to maintain a family while seizing for more social power (Shannon). Gender roles are more different then they are the same in comparison to all the colonies. Men were seen as the superior while women were the controlled citizens. Although the work and ideal image of each gender are different they each have one goal in the community. Both genders are trying to create structure throughout the community while also trying to gain more power.
In all New France, New Spain, and New England are considered three different colonies that really follow three different sets laws and regulations when it comes to marriage and gender roles. Without law and regulations, the society would show to be an unstable community. In the Colonial American time period, the goal in which all the colonies had was to control and have structure throughout the entire colony. Although these laws were constructed through laws, the belief behind all of the laws was mainly evolved through a religious outlook.