Gender, Slavery, and Freedom – Essay 4 During the eighteenth and nineteenth-century, notions of freedom for Black slaves and White women were distinctively different than they are now. Slavery was a form of exploitation of black slaves, whom through enslavement, lost their humanity and freedom, and were subjected to dehumanizing conditions. African women and men were often mistreated through similar ways, especially when induced to labor, they would eventually become a genderless individual in the sight of the master. Despite being considered “genderless” for labor, female slaves suddenly became women who endured sexual violence. Although a white woman was superior to the slaves, she had little power over the household, and was restricted to perform additional actions without the consent of their husbands. The enslaved women’s notion to conceive freedom was different, yet similar to the way enslaved men and white women conceived freedom. Black women during slavery fought to resist oppression in order to gain their freedom by running away, rebel against the slaveholders, or by slowing down work. Although that didn’t guarantee them absolute freedom from slavery, it helped them preserve the autonomy and a bare minimum of their human rights that otherwise, would’ve been taken away from them. Black …show more content…
Freedom was knowledge, education and family, but “The root of oppression decided as a “tangle of pathology” created by the absence of male authority among Black people” (Davis, 15). Therefore, they enjoyed “as much autonomy as they could seize, slave men and women manifested irrepressible talent in humanizing an environment designed to convert them into a herd of subhuman labor units” (Davis). Instead of being the head of the “household”, he and the women treated each other as an equal. This thought would soon become a historical turning point that initiated the fight for gender
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In the world today, people are treated in different manners based off their gender, in which they can’t control. Many of the average stereotypes and gender roles affect both men and women in how they live their lives. These stereotypes can inflict physical and mental obstacles onto those who believe that they cannot be successful if they go against what is considered ‘normal.’ Not only do these stereotypes affect us today, but they became influenced by the treatment of certain genders in earlier times. The novel “Chains” expresses how many women were treated as lesser equals and viewed as insignificant in the start of the Revolutionary War. In “Chains,” the years of 1776 and 1777 are seen through the eyes of a young black slave, Isabel, and
The title of this book comes from the inspiring words spoken by Sojourner Truth at the 1851, nine years prior to the Civil War at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. In Deborah Grays White, Ar’n’t I a woman her aim was to enrich the knowledge of antebellum black women and culture to show an unwritten side of history of the American black woman. Being an African- American and being a woman, these are the two principle struggles thrown at the black woman during and after slavery in the United States. Efforts were made by White scholars in 1985 to have a focus on the female slave experience. Deborah Gray White explains her view by categorizing the hardships and interactions between the female slave and the environment in which the slave was born. She starts with the mythology of the female slave by using mythologies such as Jezebel or Mammy, a picture that was painted of false images created by whites in the south. She then moves to differences between male and female slavery the harsh life cycle, the created network among the female community, customs for slave families and the trip from slavery to freedom, as well as differences between the female slave and the white woman, showing that there is more history than myth. (White, 5) Thus, bringing forth the light to the hardships and harassment that the black woman faced in the Antebellum South.
A woman holds her newborn for the first time in the clean warmth of a hospital, another tucks her toddler in for a nap, gently stroking their forehead, and yet another mother is leaving for her job. These are common occurances for women of today, yet 200 years ago this was far from the normality that woman faced, especially women trapped in slavery. In Harriet Jacob 's book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the horrors of her slave life are brought to life, shedding light on how far the ideology surrounding women have come. We still see traditional values expected of women in today 's world expressed in various forms, but the freedom to chose has spread. The reality for slave women
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.
The first topic found in these books is the difference in the roles of women and men slaves. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl gives us the women 's point of view, their lifestyle and their slave duties and roles. On the other hand, The Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass shows us the male side of slavery; the duties and role of men slaves and their way of living their situation. Both books state clearly the roles of both men and women slaves. We can easily observe the fact that slaves’ roles were based on their gender, and the different duties they had based on these roles. This gender role idea was based on American society’s idea of assigning roles based only on gender. Slave men’s role was most of the time simple. Their purpose was mainly physical work. In
Slavery is the dark past of American history. The sad truth is the land of the brave and the home of the free was built upon the backs of African American slaves who had yet to experience the sweet taste of freedom. Men and women, both struggling to survive under the harsh conditions, the never ending labor and inhumane torture. However, the experience of slavery is far different for women than it was for men. Slave women endured the relentless agony of physical, mental and emotional abuse and exploitation.
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
In her essay entitled “Reflections on the Role of Black Women in the Community of Slaves,” Angela Davis sought to dispel many of the myths surrounding the roles of black women during slave times and that of the black matriarchal figure. Davis challenged the idea of a black matriarch, stating that “…the slave system did not — and could not — engender and recognize a matriarchal family structure. Inherent in the very concept of the matriarchy is power” (Davis 201). Under the circumstances of slavery, the figure known as a “black matriarch” could not possibly exist, because someone who was oppressed by slavery could not hold any true power.
For this paper, I will focus on Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, by Jennifer L. Morgan. I choose to use this as one of my secondary sources because it outlines the absurd ideologies that many non-slaves, such as slave owners, constructed regarding African American women fertility, by exposing their reproductive abilities. My paper is exploring how many African American women were not just abused as slaves, but as means for sexual pleasure, reproductive use, and for mere economic profit. Discussing such a horrific topic is very difficult, so in this paper I am seeking to explore how Jennifer Morgan describes all the cruel racial injustices that African women experienced from their perspective, and the perspective
Imagine yourself a female slave, living a life of service on a large plantation during the early-19th century. Imagine waking every morning at dawn to begin a never-ending day of cooking, cleaning, washing, and sewing. Imagine being at the beck and call of a master who not only uses you for daily chores, but also for his personal sexual pleasure. Imagine the inexhaustible fear of his next humiliating request and the deep feelings of shame and remorse for your inability to stand up against him. Imagine lying in bed at the end of the day wishing God would carry you to heaven so you would not have to wake and experience this hell on earth all over again.
The dichotomy between those that are enslaved and those that are free is a very narrow one indeed. Arguably, the distance between the two is spanned only by an individual’s capacity to realize his innate humanity. For example, a slave that has only known the taste of the whip and the bite of shackles may be more in touch with his humanity than a poor, free man who has reached the pit of human degradation. Likewise an enterprising individual never encumbered by woes of abolition could possibly have a greater understanding of the value of life than a lowly slave. In 1859, Harriet E. Wilson attempts to explore this concept in her work entitled, Our Nig, or the Sketches from the Life of a Free Black. As the title proclaims, Our Nig is an account of the life of Frado, a free-born mulatto girl, who is abandoned by her mother and left to a life of servitude. The irony that is Frado’s life lies in the reality that while she is a free black living in the North, her lifestyle seems to closely resemble that of her enslaved counterparts in the South. In retrospect, however, many Southern slaves were able to appreciate elements of freedom, both mental and physical, that Frado, a free black, was never allotted.
In the novel, the author proposes that the African American female slave’s need to overcome three obstacles was what unavoidably separated her from the rest of society; she was black, female, and a slave, in a white male dominating society. The novel “locates black women at the intersection of racial and sexual ideologies and politics (12).” White begins by illustrating the Europeans’ two major stereotypes o...
As female slaves such as Harriet Jacob continually were fighting to protect their self respect, and purity. Harriet Jacob in her narrative, the readers get an understanding of she was trying to rebel against her aggressive master, who sexually harassed her at young age. She wasn’t protected by the law, and the slaveholders did as they pleased and were left unpunished. Jacobs knew that the social group,who were“the white women”, would see her not as a virtuous woman but hypersexual. She states “I wanted to keep myself pure, - and I tried hard to preserve my self-respect, but I was struggling alone in the grasp of the demon slavery.” (Harriet 290)The majority of the white women seemed to criticize her, but failed to understand her conditions and she did not have the free will. She simply did not have that freedom of choice. It was the institution of slavery that failed to recognize her and give her the basic freedoms of individual rights and basic protection. Harriet Jacobs was determined to reveal to the white Americans the sexual exploitations that female slaves constantly fa...
In fact, women had to carry with the pain of having their children wrenched from them. Women were forced to be “breeders” they were meant to bear children to add to their master’s “stock”, but they were denied the right to care for them. It was not something unusual to happen to these women it was considered normal. The master didn’t believe the female slaves had feelings, or the right to ruin their merchandise. It was also not unusual for the plantation master to satisfy his sexual lust with his female slaves and force them to have his children. Children that were born from these unions were often sold to protect the honor and dignity of the slave owner’s wife, who would be forced to face the undeniable proof of her husband’s lust for “black women.”
The word “slavery” brings back horrific memories of human beings. Bought and sold as property, and dehumanized with the risk and implementation of violence, at times nearly inhumane. The majority of people in the United States assumes and assures that slavery was eliminated during the nineteenth century with the Emancipation Proclamation. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth; rather, slavery and the global slave trade continue to thrive till this day. In fact, it is likely that more individuals are becoming victims of human trafficking across borders against their will compared to the vast number of slaves that we know in earlier times. Slavery is no longer about legal ownership asserted, but instead legal ownership avoided, the thought provoking idea that with old slavery, slaves were maintained, compared to modern day slavery in which slaves are nearly disposable, under the same institutionalized systems in which violence and economic control over the disadvantaged is the common way of life. Modern day slavery is insidious to the public but still detrimental if not more than old American slavery.