Deborah White's Aren T I A Wom Female Slaves In The Plantation South

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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…show more content…
Deborah White uses various examples of situations regarding these characterizations from other pieces of work such as “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” by Harriet Jacobs, interviews, and other historical references. Through these examples, Deborah White is able to effectively relay, through historical context, how these women struggled with the assumption that all black female slaves were “Jezebels” until proven otherwise. Regarded as highly sexual women, those who were categorized as a “Jezebel” woman initially started because of African traditions prior to their enslavement and also excused “miscegenation, the sexual exploitation of black women, and the mulatto population”. Deborah White argues that these women faced a very unique situation because their sexual behavior could result in being treated better or worse, depending on the situation and the master; because population growth was inevitable, white men seemed to believe that this proved their “lewd and licentious behavior”. Also, the conditions in which these women lived “helped imprint the Jezebel image on the white mind” even though this environment was created by these men “which ensured female slave behavior fulfilled their expectations”. In contrast to the “Jezebel” figure, white men also created the “Mammy” figure who was a loyal servant to the white family as well as a surrogate mother for the both black and white children. This position for a black female slave helped “endorse the service of black women in Southern households” (61). Therefore, both of these characterizations were to justify the treatment of black

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