In “The Trial of Girlhood” and “A Perilous Passage In the Slave Girl’s Life” Jacobs’s narrative emphasizes the problems that are faced by female slaves. She shares the sexual abuses that are commonly practiced by slave master against young female slaves. She does this through revealing the unique humiliation and the brutalities that were inflicted upon young slave girls. In this narrative we come to understand the psychological damage caused by sexual harassment. We also realize how this sexual harassment done by the slaveholders went against morality and “violated the most sacred commandment of nature,”(Harriet 289)as well as fundamental religious beliefs.
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
Slave women were also subjected to jealousy and rage from mistresses whose husbands’ engaged in these illicit affairs. In conclusion, the slave could not expect to enjoy a fulfilling relationship with the master. The very essence of slavery was cruel and demeaning, making it difficult for any meaningful and mutually satisfying relationship to exist. Introduction This paper explores the relations that existed between slaves and their masters as portrayed by Jaco... ... middle of paper ... ...d mistresses. The children caused tension between mistresses and slave women.
Slave Women in Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Toni Morrison's Beloved Slavery was a horrible institution that dehumanized a race of people. Female slave bondage was different from that of men. It wasn't less severe, but it was different. The sexual abuse, child bearing, and child care responsibilities affected the females's pattern of resistance and how they conducted their lives. Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, demonstrates the different role that women slaves had and the struggles that were caused from having to cope with sexual abuse.
The answer lies in the readings, Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative which both imply that sexual abuse, jealous mistresses', and loss of children caused the female slaves to endure a more dreadful and hard life in captivity. It is a difficult predicament to be in when one is held in captivity. The situation is that much worse if a child finds himself held as a slave. From a young age the child must endure the fact that he is owned and not free to live life on his own terms. A child slave is already denied his freedom and childhood in the sole fact that he is a slave.
This is quite apparent through examination of the life of Harriet Jacobs. All slaves were forced to do hard labor and were subject to cruel remarks by whites, in this sense they were genderless, except women endured much more foul treatment. Harriet Jacobs was forced to listen to the sexual berating from her master, Dr. Flint, as well as receive jealous scorn from her mistress, Mrs. Flint. Yet worse than the verbal abuse was the physical, sexual abuse imposed on slave women. "Naming or not naming the father of a child, taking as a wife a woman who had children by unnamed fathers, [and] giving a newborn child the name of a father" were all considered by Herbert Gutman to be "everyday choices" in slave communities (Davis 15).
Slave men experiences were different from slave women, who were exploited both for reproductive and productive reasons. Throughout the long years of slavery women were abused by their master, physically, sexually, and mentally, while men were abused physically and mentally. Not only did women suffer much harsher physical abuse, they were also sexually abused. Although, not suggesting that black men suffered less than black women under the oppression of slavery, only that gender considerations played a major part in shaping the task assignments given to blacks by their owners and in shaping the way in which blacks build relationships among themselves” (Jones 20). The lives of female slaves were a little more trying than that of a male slave.
Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl A recurring theme in, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, is Harriet Jacobs's reflections on what slavery meant to her as well as all women in bondage. Continuously, Jacobs expresses her deep hatred of slavery, and all of its implications. She dreads such an institution so much that she sometimes regards death as a better alternative than a life in bondage. For Harriet, slavery was different than many African Americans. She did not spend her life harvesting cotton on a large plantation.
The similarities of enslavement and skin color are just how much they affect Jacobs’ other identities. As an enslaved black woman, Jacobs knew that her beauty was a curse, and that she was unprotected in the eyes of the law. This significant lack of any protection is what leads to Jacobs being the victim of so much abuse, and indeed, what led to so many others just like her becoming the victims of their abusers. As a slave, she was born almost completely devoid of rights, and as a black person, southern society found it hard to put much effort towards caring for her. Overall, being a slave and Black American did not have the same implications for one’s life, but they did in equal parts affect how society viewed the