Women slaves were subject to unusually cruel treatment such as rape and mental abuse from their master’s, their unique experience must have been different from the experience men slaves had. While it is no secret that the horrors of the institution of slavery were terrible and unimaginable; those same horrors were no big deal for southern plantation owners. Many engaged in cruelty towards their slaves. Some slave owners took particular interest in their young female slaves. Once caught in the grips of a master’s desire it would have been next to impossible to escape. In terms of actual escape from a plantation most women slaves had no reason to travel and consequentially had no knowledge of the land. Women slaves had the most unfortunate of situations; there were no laws that would protect them against rape or any injustices. Often the slave that became the object of the master’s desires would also become a victim of the mistress of the household. Jealousy played a detrimental role in the dynamic the enslaved women were placed within. Regardless of how the slave felt she could have done little to nothing to ease her suffering.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a book written by Harriet Jacobs about the hardships she encountered during slavery. The book begins in a small Southern city during the 1820s where Harriet—under the name of Linda Brent in this book—was born under the iron chains of slavery, though she didn’t feel them until later in life. Her childhood was spent under kind masters and she was taught how to read and write, but the death of her last benevolent master proved to change things for the worst. She then became a slave of the Flint household, where she became a favorite of the married master of the house, Dr. Flint or Dr. James Norcom, when she reached a proper age. She was fairly rebellious for a slave and refused to be subjected to the humiliation of being sexually abused by her master. She decided to have an affair with an unmarried white man, Mr. Sands or Samuel Tredwell Sawyer (a future congressman), using the liberal freedom she received from her master. Harriet ended up having two of Mr. Sands’ children who were precious to her and were always at the heart of her plans later in life. She ends up running away after several years and the rest of the book revolves around her successful daring plans and sacrifices to make her children and herself free with many twists and turns upon the way.
Slaves during the mid-1800s were considered chattel and did not have rights to anything that opposed their masters’ wishes. “Although the slaves’ rights could never be completely denied, it had to be minimized for the institution of slavery to function” (McLaurin, 118). Female slaves, however, usually played a different role for the family they were serving than male slaves. Housework and helping with the children were often duties that slaveholders designated to their female slaves. Condoned by society, many male slaveholders used their female property as concubines, although the act was usually kept covert. These issues, aided by their lack of power, made the lives of female slaves
In Harriet Jacobs Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the author subjects the reader to a dystopian slave narrative based on a true story of a woman’s struggle for self-identity, self-preservation and freedom. This non-fictional personal account chronicles the journey of Harriet Jacobs (1813-1897) life of servitude and degradation in the state of North Carolina to the shackle-free promise land of liberty in the North. The reoccurring theme throughout that I strive to exploit is how the women’s sphere, known as the Cult of True Womanhood (Domesticity), is a corrupt concept that is full of white bias and privilege that has been compromised by the harsh oppression of slavery’s racial barrier. Women and the female race are falling for man’s
"Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women." Why was slavery "far more terrible for women"? In Harriet A. Jacobs’s memoir, she shows people the additional horrors and brutalities that an enslaved men went through, but enslaved women were often used as “breeders”. The enslaved women went through further horrors than men, they had to bore pain and degradation.
Deborah Gray White in Aren’t I a Woman: Female Slaves in the Plantation South theorizes that black women in the plantation south were the most vulnerable group in early America. These were black women in a white Southern society, slaves in a free American society, and women in a society ruled by men which gave them the least power and the most vulnerability in the plantation south. Their degradation was the result of American stigmas that understood black women as being promiscuous, licentious females who had high birth rates as well as a high pain tolerance. Although black women were seen as a part of the weaker sex, they were not seen as being as not seen as ineffectual. These women were sold for their abilities that include, but are not
In her story Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs presents what life was like living as a female slave during the 19th century. Born into slavery, she exhibits, to people living in the North who thought slaves were treated fairly and well, how living as a slave, especially as a female slave during that time, was a heinous and horrible experience. Perhaps even harder than it was if one had been a male slave, as female slaves had to deal with issues, such as unwanted sexual attention, sexual victimization and for some the suffering of being separated from their children. Harriet Jacobs shows that despite all of the hardship that she struggled with, having a cause to fight for, that is trying to get your children a better life
In Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, personal accounts that detail the ins-and-outs of the system of slavery show readers truly how monstrous and oppressive slavery is. Families are torn apart, lives are ruined, and slaves are tortured both physically and mentally. The white slaveholders of the South manipulate and take advantage of their slaves at every possible occasion. Nothing is left untouched by the gnarled claws of slavery: even God and religion become tainted. As Jacobs’ account reveals, whites control the religious institutions of the South, and in doing so, forge religion as a tool used to perpetuate slavery, the very system it ought to condemn. The irony exposed in Jacobs’ writings serves to show