Analysis Of Abraham In Arms: War And Gender In Colonial New England

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War has always been perceived as a theater for males to show their superior manhood over their enemies; New England is not an exception. In Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England, Ann M. Little discusses the roles that the notions of gender and masculinity have played in guiding the warfare and the cultural confrontation in the border area of New England in the 17th and 18th century. Based primarily on English sources but in an attempt to explore the perspectives of manhood in the three warring parties in New England (British, French, and Native Americans), this book investigates how the Indians and colonists demonstrated their masculinity to distinguish themselves from the effeminate foe and exploited the weakness of their opponents’ manhood to fight wars and to claim lands and captives. Despite the distinctive strategies and goals employed by the three sides, Little managed to identify the similarities between them and suggests that English, French, and Indians actually all highlighted the ideology of gender and household in comprehending wars against each other…show more content…
As Englishmen in the 18th century perceived ethnicity and gender not as biological features but as individual’s speech, behavior, and clothes, they were disturbed when they saw their dead countrymen’s apparel were stripped and worn by the Indians (59). In contrast, Indians regarded stripping as a way to mock the English and to facilitate the integration of captives (90). Little contends that Englishmen regarded clothing as a symbol of their superiority in race and manhood. When they saw the Indians removing clothes from the dead and the captured, they feared that nakedness and Indians’ dressing of English garment undermined their racial, class and gender superiority that they employed to stimulate their battles against Native Americans (90). The English captives forced to “cross-dressing” Indian garments were similarly upset
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