Conquest Hierarchy and the Decline of Female AutonomyAn Analysis of Evolving Inca Gender Roles

Conquest Hierarchy and the Decline of Female AutonomyAn Analysis of Evolving Inca Gender Roles

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Prior to the Inca empire expansion of 1438-1493, gender roles were governed by the societal concept of gender parallelism. The Incas allowed this idea to become the foundation of equality in matters such as religion, economics, sexuality, and labor. However, the dynamic faltered as the Inca Empire began expanding at an aggressive rate. Culturally ingrained gender parallelism was manipulated for the success of imperial goals. The Inca empire expansion stripped women of the established autonomy gender parallelism provided, created a conquest hierarchy, and altered the entirety of Inca cultural practices for the sake of a larger empire.
Gender parallelism, as defined by Karen Vieira Powers, is “women and men operat[ing] in two separate but equivalent spheres, each gender enjoying autonomy in its own sphere.” From 1150-1400, Inca women and men each had their own gender-based hierarchies for religion and political organizations. Labor was also gender separated; as neither men nor women were seen as being an appointed with tasks of higher worth or auxiliary tasks. Another facet of parallelism was that of gendered inheritance. Female and male children inherited their parents’ money, property, and title through the respective gendered parent – mother to daughter and father to son. Overall, the Incas viewed gender parallelism as an opportunity to create balance and harmony within society. It was initially not intended to create blatant dominant and subordinate groups. Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize that these separate spheres convened at the apex of joined political systems, which was the male Inca ruler – the “paramount ruler” . The political convergence plays a crucial role in the later evolution of gender parallelism.
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...nder parallelism as previously understood by the Inca Empire.
Inca women autonomy was destroyed by empirical conquest. There was an inherent loss of feminine spirituality with every re-mapping of the empire’s boundaries. They lost their powerful female deities and were repaid with gendered predetermination. Men allowed conquest to detach them from the Inca belief system of balance and equality that pre-dated any need for expansion. Conquest hierarchy was enforced and unquestioned. An all though the Inca political people gained power, they lost social harmony.



Works Cited

Irene Silverblatt, Moon, Sun, and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and
Colonial Peru., (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1987).

Karen Vieira Powers, Women in the Crucible of Conquest: The Gendered Genesis of
Spanish American Society, 1500-1600, (Albuquerqu: University of New Mexico, 2005).

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