Did Gender Make a Difference within Slavery?

Good Essays
Did Gender Make a Difference within Slavery?

Within slavery there were harsh conditions which

Frederick Douglass tries to convey in his biography

"Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass."

Within this narrative he dezribes how men and women

slaves were treated differently by their masters.

Women were abused by their master, physically,

sexually, and mentally, while men were mostly abused

physically and mentally.

Many slave women suffered regular beatings.

Frederick Douglass mentions several different

instances where female slaves who he knew where

beaten regularly. One of Douglass's first overseers,

Mr. Plummer, would beat Douglass's aunt on a daily

basis. Mr. Plummer whipped Douglass's aunt so often

he began a routine, "He would whip her to make her

scream, and whip her to make her hush" (23).

Frederick Douglass also recounted the killing of a

slave girl because she slept through a baby's cry.

While he was in Baltimore Fredrick Douglass observed

the multiple beating of two young girls across the

street. Douglass says "The girls seldom passed her

without her saying, 'Move faster, you black gip!' at

the same time giving them a blow with the cowskin

over the head and shoulders, often drawing the blood"

(49). But women were not the only ones who received

beatings. The men were also physically abused.

Douglass describes two stable men, old Barney and

young Barney, who never know when to expect a

beating from their master, "They never knew when they

were safe from punishment. They were frequently

whipped when least deserving" (32). Douglass

explains one of his own experience's of the beatings

which he received as a slave. He told us how

"he rushed at me with the fierceness of ...

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him to be a slave. He would at once become

unmanageable, and of no values to his master"


His mastered had the concept that if a slave was

knowledgeable he would become unmanageable. This a

form of mental abuse because it denied the slaves the

ability to think for themselves, through denying them

the knowledge needed to make important decisions.

The life of a female slave seems to be a little

more trying then that of a male slaves. This is due to

the sexual abuse which the women must endure. Also

brought forth was some trials of slavery which do not

always come to mind, such as separation anxiety,

illiteracy, and sexual abuse. These acts of abuse were

a large part of slavery during its existence. The

types of abuse were present in order to keep the slave

population as slaves, and not a group of people who

think for themselves.