Out of fear of pain or death, female slaves had no other alternative but to obey their masters. According to Lyerly, “As many historians of slavery have noted, slave women lived not only with slavery’s routine restraints upon their will; they also had to fight for control over their bodies. Victims of sexual abuse by whites, slave women were often subject to the will of others in the most intimate ways” (209).
Jacobs directs her account of the afflictions a woman is subjected to in the chain of slavery to women of the north to gain sympathy for their sisters that were enslaved in the south. In showing this, Jacobs reveals the danger of such self disapprobation women maintained by accepting the idealized role that men have set a goal for which to strive. She suggests that slave women be judged by different standards than those applied to other women. Jacobs develops a moral code that apprises the specific social and historical position of captive black women. Jacobs’ will power and strength shown in her narrative are characteristics of womanly behavior being developed by the emerging feminist movement.
A comparison of the narratives of Douglass and Jacobs demonstrates the full range of demands and situations that slaves experienced, and the mistreatment that they experienced as well. Jacobs experienced the ongoing sexual harassment from James Norcom, just like numerous slave women experienced sexual abuse or harassment during the slave era. Another issue that faced blacks was the incompetence of the white slave owners and people. In ... ... middle of paper ... ...f Jacobs’s narrative is the sexual exploitation that she, as well as many other slave women, had to endure. Her narrative focuses on the domestic issues that faced African-American women, she even states, “Slavery is bad for men, but it is far more terrible for women”.
The theme of mother hood is present throughout the novel. Morrison portrays the struggles black slave women faced as mothers within the institution of slavery. The positive qualities of motherhood are constantly tested against the cruelty of slavery within the novel. Morrison reflects the nature of slavery through the idea of slavery taking away the maternal rights of slave women. This evident in the subside story of Baby Suggs and her unclear memory of her own children.
Modern day thought typically views slavery from one perspective that of the physically abused male slave, beaten and battered by his aggressive slave master. In Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Jacobs brings light to the other side of the horrors of slavery, the psychological abuses, in particular the psychological abuses that women in slavery face. Comparatively, Marie Jenkins Schwartz’s Birthing a Slave does depict the horrors of slavery from the perspective of women and the horrors of the abused child bearing mothers. Although some may believe that in Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Jacobs fails to get at the true horrors of the physical brutality of slavery as presented in Marie Jenkins Schwartz’s Birthing a Slave, in reality Harriet Jacobs autobiography and Marie Jenkins Schwartz’s Birthing a Slave both depict severe horrors of slavery but from the perspective of mental and psychological anguish. During the era of Jacob’s life, women are seen as moral superior beings, being deemed pure, pious, and caring and representing a God like figure.
In in circumstances she felt that “Slave woman ought not to be judged by the same standard as others” (Jacobs 234). Slaves endured much more cruelty of being raped, having their babies ripped from there wombs then sold into slavery child after another. They did all they could for themselves and children and tried to live a happy life but what life was a happy one with bitter slave masters and being a female slave of the
African American women were also expected to breed future slaves. Many African American women rebelled ag... ... middle of paper ... ...ccepted by others in the colonies. Virginia imposed a law upon people who were willing to participate in such relationships. If they were found to be breaking the law, they would be subject to fines and beatings. Mulatto children usually took on the status of their mothers.
There are stereotypes of black women during this time: being looked upon as sexual objects and being promiscuous. Jacobs’s attempts to resist the stereotypical images of black women are unsuccessful, even with the presence of her well respected grandmother. Women Slaves Like Frederick Douglass stated in his narrative, the women slaves were subjected to the same labor and punishments as men. But women faced more brutal treatment. Douglass shares in his narrative that he took his share of whippings.
Slave women’s subjugation under the institutions of slavery and patriarchy uniquely positions them to experience sexual exploitation from their masters and encounter difficulties in fulfilling their role as mothers. Dorothy Roberts alludes to Harriet Jacobs’ The Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (2001) in her Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (1998) to point out how slave women – simultaneously slave chattel and patriarchal property – experienced especially terrible oppressions. Although Jacobs’ intersectional consciousness precedes Kimberlé Crenshaw, Roberts alludes to Jacobs, suggesting the role of intersectionality in the lives of slave women, particularly the aspects of their lives concerning reproductive
Jacobs’ story does much to highlight these similarities and differences. Ultimately, Jacobs’ identity as a Black American determined how she was treated by others, but her identity as a slave affected the very way she thought. When she was alone or with family, the color of her skin did not matter. However, no matter where she was, her and her children 's’ enslavement would have a factor in the way she thought, from hoping for her and her children’s freedom, to praying that they did not have to suffer much more. The similarities of enslavement and skin color are just how much they affect Jacobs’ other identities.