In the end she is thought of as a "new kind of female hero" (497). She has gone through many hardships and she "articulates her struggle to assert her womanhood" (497). Even with her lack of a higher education, she shows intelligence throughout her writing. She had her own way of getting her points across, one being that a person could not possibly fully understand the degradation of slavery if he/she did not go through it themselves. This is a point within itself because it further relays the fact that slavery was a very horrible, evil and degrading thing.
It was extremely dangerous for abolitionists, especially as women, to help slaves read, write, and become free. Women still fight for equal rights, and blacks still deal with racism on a day-to-day basis. Some say slavery of women still exists, but it is referred to as prostitution. To this day, women are held as sex slaves, maids, and cooks. Human trafficking is still a major issue and generally involves women.
“A Fight for all Women” Harriet Jacobs’ feminist approach to her autobiographical narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl brought to life the bondage placed on women, in particular enslaved black women, during the nineteenth-century America. In an effort to raise awareness about the conditions of enslaved women and to promote the cause of abolition, Jacobs decided to have her personal story of sexual exploitation and escape published. The author’s slave narrative focuses on the experiences of women, the treatment of sexual exploitation, its importance on family life and maternal principles, and its appeal to white, female readers. Likewise, through the use of the Feminist/Gender Theory, issues relating to gender and sexuality can be applied to the author’s slave narrative. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and its lack of reception during its own time disclose the strict boundaries and unique challenges Harriet Jacobs encountered and overcame as a woman in antebellum America.
African-American women had to deal with all the previously mentioned things, but they were women too! Females were oppressed almost as bad as the blacks. White women were not able to vote until the 1920. Therefore colored women had a double edged sword, they had to fight for freedom, but not be to dominate as to effect the men. Alice Walker's The Color Purple is a good example of colored women's plight.
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.
Additionally,women in the slave communities acted like teachers to pass down stories, traditions and resistance of slavery to the younger generations. Black women had a lot to deal with: forced sexual encounters with the master, taking care of their children, working and looking after and being the strength of the slave communities. The life of enslaved Black women was brutalized, dehumanizing and sexually exploited, but they found strength through outside influences, one being resistance networks. Dehumanizing means to take away positive human qualities, and that is what happened to slaves. Slaves were looked down upon as though they were gum on the bottom of a shoe.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs strongly speaks to its readers by describing the brutalities of slavery and the way slave owners can destroy peaceful lives. After reading and rereading the story have noticed certain things regarding how Jacobs tries to educate her readers and her intended audience which is the women of the North. As if we do not know enough about how terrible slavery is, this story gives detailed examples of the lives of slaves and provokes an incredible amount of emotions. She uses several tactics in her writing to reach her desired audience and does so very well. The way she wrote the story does not seem as though she is emotionally connected.
She compares the life of men and women in the slave society, and how truly different they were. The roles of women are shown through the slaves’ life cycle, family life, slave society networks, and the civil war. Each of these various aspects of life are discussed very vividly in the book, and serve purpose in showing how African American women were treated so unjustly not only because of their skin color but the fact that they were women, therefore they were the most discriminated against in Antebellum America. Though they were discriminated against their nature proved them to not be submissive and subordinate in all aspects. The terms “Jezebel” and “Mammy” refer to African American women in this time period.
It is the message Jacobs hopes to burn deep into the intended readers mind. Like most slave narratives, the reader feels a form of guilt and sympathy for the protagonist, but for Harriet Jacobs there is much more to be felt. Freedom is arguably life’s greatest gifts and it being taken away can sometimes be a fate worse than death. In Harriet Jacob’s narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, she tells a story of the painful truths that plagued slave women in the nineteenth century. It is a story that deserves to be read long after this period of time.
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. The first mythology that the slave woman faced was that of Jezebel.