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Harriet Jacobs and Slavery

Harriet Jacobs once said, “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women”. Men faced many hardships during slavery. They were beaten severely, starved, worked to the point where they couldn’t anymore and many more sufferings. On the other hand women also faced these similar hardships, but had to suffer even more. They would have to watch their children being taken away from them and sometimes never see them again. Women had to also deal with their Master trying to sexually harass them. Thus, slavery was indeed more terrible for women due to the facts that they would have to face with many more hardships than men did.
One of the many obstacles which women had to cope with during slavery was losing their children. One night a black woman’s child will be with her and the other morning he/she could be sold off to another Master. In the story, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, Harriet Jacobs had to face a similar dilemma. She had to escape, risk leaving her children back on the plantation, in order for them to be kept in one place. If she had stayed, her children would have been sold to another slave master and she probably would have never seen them again. One of the hardest things for a mother to do is leave their children behind in a dangerous place and Harriet had to do this. If she was a man, she wouldn’t be taking care of her kids, but she would just be working. No children to worry about or nothing. Therefore, a woman’s fear of losing her children was a major obstacle during slavery.
Another difficulty which black women had to handle was the fact that their masters would try to engage in sexual activities. Many masters would try to make sexual advances towards their women slaves and the women could not rebel. For example, in Harriet Jacobs’ slave narrative, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”, Harriet’s master tried to make sexual progress towards her. However, to avoid this, she decided to stay with someone she was more comfortable with. He was another slave master, but she used him to stay away from her own. This is only Harriet’s story; just imagine the amount of African American women slaves who had to face sexual tortures and who couldn’t read or write to tell their story.
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