Petticoats and Prejudice Essay

This essay has a total of 1337 words and 6 pages.

Petticoats and Prejudice

Through the narration of white settler society construct, that is, the notion that Canada
is a nation founded by the French and British, only certain interests are taken into
account. Daiva Stasiulus and Radha Jhappan's article "The Fractious Politics of a Settler
Society in Canada," demonstrate how this construct is problematic in Canada's nation
building process. Ultimately, both Stasiulus and Jhappan demonstrate how white settler
society construct has been a main cause of social inequality and lack of diversity both
historically and presently in Canada.

The authors begin by outlining the historical problems which white settler society
construct presented. First, they point out that as white settlement began in earnest, the
confiscation of the Aboriginals land was justified in terms of their failure to qualify as
a ‘civilized' community (98). As Stasiulus and Jhappan outline, the violence that went
into colonizing the Aboriginal community, is therefore seen as justifiable because the
Aboriginal communities' different world-views, cultures, notion of property and ‘pagan'
beliefs are presented as evidence for their unfit ownership to the land.

A second limitation of white settler society construct that Stasiulus and Jhappan outline
is that fact that settlement and immigration in Canada was considerably more ethnically
and racially diverse than the white British settler agenda suggested. Indeed, it was this
diversity which compelled the conscious construction of a racial/ethnic hierarchy. What
was soon implemented was a ‘white Canada' immigration policy that was designed to
aggressively recruit what was considered the ‘best classes' of British men and women.
Non-European immigrants would be excluded unless their cheap labor was needed, in which
case they could be granted lesser access to settlers and citizens' rights.

Finally, Stasiulus and Jhappan point out that the assumptions of the white settler society
construct were not only racist but also androcentric. The authors argue that they focused
primarily on men's activities in the public sphere (in production and in government), and
women are regarded as little more than breeders to reproduce ‘the nation, the empire and
the future race.' In reality, the authors point out that, women played multiple roles,
depending on their race/ethnic class. For example, Caribbean women were only immigrated to
Canada not as reproducers but as domestic workers. Clearly, these factors not only
determined the kind of work women preformed, but also as the authors point out, their role
in controlling and oppressing other women.

Issues that Stasiulus and Jhappan outline, raise questions about the concept of Canada's
nation. Nation is an entity bound together by a common territory and culture. The concept
of a ‘nation,' is indeed a social construct because it is subjugated to different
meanings over time. In talking about nation as a social construct, we must talk about who
has the power to define and organize the region. As the white settler society construct
demonstrates, in the nation building of Canada, it was the British and French settlers who
possessed this power of defining and organizing the region. Thus, it was only these
peoples interest that were taken into account while the Aboriginal peoples' interests were
disregarded. Furthermore, in the founding of Canada, Aboriginal people are not seen as
founders and their rights are therefore erased from narrative accounts.

In defining nation as a social construct, we have to look at who has the power to decide
who is coming in and what job they will perform. Although the term nation suggests that
there is a sense of solidarity, we have to continue to question how this solidarity is
enforced. Historically, white settler society construct enforced this solidarity in such a
way where people (for example, that of women, most specifically racialized women)
continued to be seen as outsiders. Today, through Canada's immigration policies, white
settler society construct continues to permeate throughout much of Canada's nation
building.

Sedef Arat-Koc's article "In The Privacy Of Our Own Home: Foreign Domestic Workers As A
Solution To The Domestic Sphere In Canada," forcefully demonstrates how immigration
policies are constructed on the notion of white settler society construct. According to
Arat-Koc, Canada is facing a "crises" in the domestic sphere. For Arat-Koc, this is
demonstrated in three major ways. First, Arat-Koc states that the behavior of men in homes
has changed very little in terms of their contributions to the housework and parenting
responsibilities. Second, Arat-Koc states that the childcare situation in Canada is in a
state of crises where the quality and dependability of childcare in Canada is unknown.
Third, Arat-Koc argues that Canadian employers and the state have provided little
accommodation for the family responsibilities of working people and thus parents suggest
Continues for 3 more pages >>