Aztec Women Roles and Society

Topics: Aztec, Gender role, Gender Pages: 9 (3067 words) Published: November 21, 2012
The roles of women are useful to historians because they provide an insight into the life experiences, cultures, thoughts, and every day life of a historical period. Similarly this essay will examine the roles of women, which provide insight into the Aztec civilization’s many strengths. The Aztec child bearer/warrior, priestess and sexual being will be analyzed to display that gender relations were complementary that produced equality. The midwife and weaver reveal that the Aztec’s specialization proved successful through fields like medicine and the market. Finally the Aztec daughter and mother will be examined to show that the Aztec’s had a strong socialization system established through education and the family. For these reasons women’s roles allow historians to look at the greater picture and see that Aztec society was advanced ad possessed three particular strengths being that its gender complementarity structure, a successful specialization of labour, as well as a highly efficiency in socialization that allowed Aztec culture to retransmit itself. Gender relations in Aztec culture were based on a gender complementarity structure. This structure, “Defines males and females as distinctive but equal and interdependent parts of a larger productive whole.” The Aztec society was fairly gender divided however women’s tasks were usually “in the heart of the home,” taking care of the family and bearing children, whilst men’s domain was outside and involved hunting, fishing, fighting etc. A clear illustration of how roles were interdependent is seen through food production where men hunted and women cooked the catch. Each role accompanied the other because without one another there would be no sustenance. This cultural ideology could have developed because both sexes may have understood that each had a specific labour/role to fulfill ultimately for God which is supported through an admonition in the Codex of Mendoza, “This is the wish of our master and his decision that we shall obtain all that is needed for life only through sweat, only through work.” Furthermore within Aztec religion there were two dual-sexed creator deities Ometechuhtli – Lord of Durality – and Omecihuatl – Lady of Durality – amongst many other male and female deity couples who were equally responsible for a variety of things. This evidence may indicate that gender complementarity relations could have also originated from religion. Nonetheless gender relations in Aztec society were based on gender complementarity. The child bearer/warrior exemplifies how the Aztec’s gender complementarity tproduced gender equality because she gained the same title and honour as male warriors. The child bearing role made women distinct from males however she was still equal, “As the man gained honour by going valiantly into battle, so the woman gained honour and respect by bearing children because her battle was comparable.” The pregnant mother was seen as a warrior entering battle – child labour – because she had to capture her baby. The midwife reinforced this concept because she would emit a war cry during labour. This evidence shows how child bearing was perceived valuably and made women equal to warriors who were highly respected in Aztec society. If a women died during labour she received the same honour as a warrior fallen in battle and was labeled mocihuacquetzque. Similarly to male warriors this name and honour meant that she would travel to a western solar realm where she accompanied the sun. This respect for childbirth may have developed in Aztec culture because they recognizes that, “They too had made a sacrifice of their own lives so that a new life could come into the world.” Nonetheless the child bearer/warrior role shows historians that she was different but also equal to male warriors through the title and honour she received.

The priestess carried out certain tasks and responsibilities because of the gender complimentarity structure however her...
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