The colonial/Modern Gender System
In the article Heterosexualism and the colonial/modern gender system, Maria Lugones analyzes the modern/colonial gender system related to the colonial period. The colonial/modern gender system is a term coined by Anibal Quijano. The term was developed to explain the roots of the gender binary system. She defines the term as a biological, dimorphic, patriarchal, and heterosexual organization of relations. She develops the argument that gender itself is a colonial introduction. Lugones describes the process in which the colonial/modern gender system is imposed. She also discusses the two aspects to the modern/colonial gender system which can be viewed as the light and the dark side.
Lugones describes the introduction of the imposition of the colonial/modern system as a slow, discontinuous, and heterogeneous process that violently inferiorized women. She suggest that the gender system was introduced was one informed through the coloniality of power. The coloniality of power is another concept Lugones discusses in her article. This concept deals takes on three forms concerning hierarchies, knowledge, and cultural systems. Lugones believes an understanding of the history of gender systems will let one understand the present functions of hetero norms. An example of this would could be dated back pre-colonial period. Before the colonization of America occurred the indigenous people did not necessarily have gender structures. Gender roles were less associated with biological terms. After the colonization of America the indigenous people were introduced to these new concepts. Essentially, these gender system imposed was a method of controlling reproduction, inheritance, as well as a hierarchical structured society with white males possessing dominance.
There are also characteristics of the light and the dark side that are crucial to discuss. The light side is the side that contains white bourgeois women. These are women that experience oppression in a contrasting way to those women who fall under the dark side category. The bourgeois white women were considered weaker, less intelligent, and were not considered capable of holding authoritative positions and positions of power. Virginity and purity were expectations of women until marriage when women were then expected to be mothers and wives. These white bourgeois women were used to maintain race and the purity of race as well as other forces were used to oppress these women so that men, white me in particular, could maintain power.
The dark side consists of the non-white women, women such as Native Americans or slaves. These women were not viewed as dainty or civilized. These women were viewed as animalistic, they processed no social gender, and were reduced through violence and exploitation to bore physical capacity. These women were of no value, no more value than a mule or an ox. Women on the dark side often not only experienced the exploitation of slavery, but also experienced the brutality of rape and other sexual offenses.
The two sides light and dark consist of two different groups of women, both groups hindered and oppressed by a male dominated society. These views still control American society’s norms. This concept of the colonial/modern gender system provides an understanding of how gender and the roles associated with gender have dictated norms throughout history and the present.