Gutierrez (1991) is talking about the traditions and customs that existed in colonial New Mexico. During this time, many of the Pueblo Indian, Spanish and Mexican ideas were integrated into this culture. At the heart of this approach, was to use the Spanish model as way to enforce different social standards and norms. (Gutierrez)

This meant that men were seen as superior to women and had the power of the state behind them. As many of these rights and privileges, were provided based upon biblical interpretation. This encouraged men to engage in actions that were seen supportive of social values. While women, were forced to save themselves for marriage and be subservient to the men in their family. (Gutierrez)

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Anyone who followed these practices were rewarded and respected within society. Whereas those individuals who chose to questions these customs were often ridiculed and subject to tremendous amounts of gossip. This essentially made the person a social outcast by not abiding by these standards. Everyone who is seen this in this light, motivated others to not follow these practices (in order to fit in with a particular social group). (Gutierrez)

In some situations, the legal and court system were used to support these ideas. This occurred by acknowledging that women are inferior to men and that males are the most dominant in society. When anyone refused to follow these practices, this was utilized to encourage them to change their behavior. The combination of these factors created a foundation for enforcing and shaping social values. (Gutierrez)

These points are illustrating how the various standards for male dominance in society were continually enforced. As a result, the main thesis of the chapter is focusing on how this is taking place and the way it is impacting the community’s relationship with each other. This is when everyone is provided with an understanding of the norms and customs that are embraced by colonial civilization. (Gutierrez)


To support these views, Gutierrez talks about how this is affecting the relationship between men and women in society. This is accomplished by studying the way men and women are interacting with each other in relation to these values. A good example of this can be seen with how women were treated if they were not considered to be a virgin. What happened is traditional society demanded that pure females were never touched by another man. Anyone who is rumored to have been with someone else is considered to be communal. This essentially made them a social outcast, despite the rumors being untrue. In one instance a woman went so far as to go to the doctor to show how her daughter is still pure. (Gutierrez)

Evidence of this can be seen with Gutierrez writing, “Concern for reputation prompted Dona Maria Manuela de la Luz Romero to sue Mariano Baca in 1767. Baca, a half-breed of very low status and “depraved habits,” had been telling people that he had , an Albuquerque aristocrat, and was intent on redeeming her through marriage. before the civil court and charged Baca with slander. ‘I am an honest and sheltered maiden. The good upbringing and prudence with which my parents raised me is publicly known in Albuquerque. They have given no one cause, either because of their acts or mine, to defame my honor or that of my parents.’ She demanded that Mariano be punished for tarnishing the virtue that honorable and well-bred maidens customarily guarded with great care. To prove that Mariano’s allegations were false, to the home of Albuquerque’s ecclesiastical notary, Joseph Hurtado de Mendoza, on April 21, 1767, to ask that he witness a gynecological examination that would establish Dona Maria’s virginity. She was accompanied by Barbara Benavides, a respected midwife from Atrisco, and Gertrudis Montoya, a friend. The notary agreed to certify the proceedings in the presence of his wife, his sister, Barbara Benavides, and Gertrudis Montoya. Mendoza attested: ‘I examined [ Dona Maria] visually with the four women. Barbara the midwife placed the second finger of her right hand in the narrow concave of her genitals and could penetrate no further than the tip of the said second finger, entering only as far as the middle of the nail. For this reason it is indisputable that she is a virgin and the slander which has been voiced is false.” (Gutierrez 224)

This is illustrating how the word of males is taken in higher regard than women. When some kind of proof is introduced; is the point they will have their reputation restored. However, prior to this, society will automatically believe what the male has to say (regardless of the women’s social standing). In many ways, one could argue that this is illustrating the sexism that existed in colonial New Mexico. (Gutierrez 224)


Clearly, the society of 18th and 19th century of colonial New Mexico is very prejudice towards women. This is based upon the values that were embraced, which are supporting the idea of male superiority. Over the course of time, this system created vast amounts of inequality that treated women inhumanely. This made it harder for them to speak the truth about possible abuses and their impact on the individual. When this happened, it meant that their reputation and opportunities would become limited. (Gutierrez)

Works Cited

Gutierrez, Ramon. When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991. Print.