Gender roles within society have changed continuously over time, and with the use of primary sources, it can be seen first-hand what it was like during the time in which it was written. In the source, “Parallel Qualities of the Sexes,” the opinion of one writer is seen through the poem. Because this is just one person’s opinion, it is important to determine whether or not the statements made are truthful to the time period in which it was written.
There are a number of questions to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not a source is or is not credible, such as the gender of the writer, who the audience is, and what can be presumed about the author through the work itself. The credibility of the source then relies on the truthfulness of the content compared to the history of the time period when it was written. The author shows that there is a definite separation between the sexes, but that each has their own important qualities.
Looking at facts from History of the Canadian Peoples will help determine whether or not the assumptions made within the work are truthful or not. Although the small amounts of information provided match with historical facts, the source, “Parallel Qualities of the Sexes,” does not prove to be entirely reliable, due to a lack of elaboration on the subject matter, leaving it open to anyone’s own opinion. There are many aspects of a primary source that are critical in analyzing the content.
Because this source is based on gender issues, it would be beneficial to know the gender of the author. Unfortunately, this information is not given, so it becomes difficult to see how the information put forward is meant to be taken. Especially with poetry, a lot is open to each individual’s own interpretation. In regards to gender, it can be assumed that it would be written with different intentional meanings if written by a male or female. If coming from a man’s perspective, it would seem very conceited and show that men are very proud of what they are and what they do.
It would seem that after creating a generalized list of qualities that men attain, the equivalent of what women do, in comparison, was then lined up next to it. On the other hand, if the writer is female, the intentional meaning behind it would be much different. It would show that they respected their husbands for the work they did, and the good qualities that they possess, and show that, while at the same time acknowledging their own qualities. For example, the line “man shines abroad – woman at home,” can be looked at from both sides.
A man would have seen it as more important to be out, working for his family, and a woman would have taken great pride in the work she does at home. Without knowing the gender of the writer, it is important to look at the source from both perspectives in order to fully understand the context. Another important aspect to look into is who the target audience would have been at the time it was written. Because it was published in The Christian Guardian, it is likely that the author was of middle to upper class, and the audience targeted would most likely have been within the same status; those who were able to read.
It seems that it is written to please both male and female readers. As explained before, it is relatable to both genders. It may have been written this way either to simply express the writers’ actual thoughts on the subject, or in order to convince society that men and women are more of equals than was thought at that time. The work itself is very simple and straightforward, in order to assure that all readers will understand the message. The source does not favour one gender over the other, but rather picks out strengths in both men and women that work side by side with one another.
It seems that the author wanted readers to see that men and women cannot live without one another. Each quality listed is complimented by the one next to it of the opposite sex. For example, the line “man prevents misery – woman relieves it” shows that a man prevents harm to his family, but when he cannot do so, the woman of the house is there to relieve the pain. It is shown here that men and women work together in society, which creates a unity of the sexes that is not necessarily recognized. The idea that men and women were viewed as equals during this time period is not easily believable.
In History of the Canadian Peoples, it is shown that in the Maritime Colonies, there was a “fundamental inequality” of the sexes and that patriarchy, which is a “belief that men should have power over women and children” was promoted in colonial society. The simple mention of having power over women challenges the beliefs put forward in the source. There cannot be equality between the sexes to any extent when it is encouraged for men to have authority over their wives. This is not to say that women were not needed to run the household, but this source makes it seem that there is an equality that does not yet exist.
Despite the “crucial economic role, a woman was legally subordinate to the husband, father, or even brother for whom she performed labor. ” This shows that there is a power struggle between men and women that has been created by society. Men have power over women, and that is how it was during this time. There is no sign of equality. Lastly, it is important to consider the women’s rights advocates, which started in 1848, a year before this was written. It is necessary to take into account that this may have had an influence on this piece of writing.
At this point in time, women “recognized their own lack of civil rights and began organizing to remove the legal and attitudinal barriers that made women subordinate to men. ” Preceding this, it was not until 1852 and 1857 that petition groups were put together, so this was not a fast process. In conclusion, the source “Parallel Qualities of the Sexes” cannot be viewed as entirely reliable for a few different reasons. It is written in the structure of a poem, which is often meant to be open to any readers’ own interpretation.
The gender of the writer is also unknown, which would have a major impact on how this piece of writing can be viewed. The work itself implies a sort of equality between the males and females, but this view is not held during this time period. Women are seen as being under the power of men, which is not represented in the poem. Overall, even though it is not completely reliable, historians may still be able to derive some useful information from the source. Bibliography Conrad, Margaret and Finkel, Alvin. History of the Canadian Peoples. Toronto: Pearson Longman, 2009. “Parallel Qualities of the Sexes. ” The Christian Guardian. 1849.