Women In Slavery in Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative

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The notion of slavery, as unpleasant as it is, must nonetheless be examined to understand the hardships that were caused in the lives of enslaved African-Americans. Without a doubt, conditions that the slaves lived under could be easily described as intolerable and inhumane. As painful as the slave's treatment by the masters was, it proved to be more unbearable for the women who were enslaved. Why did the women suffer a grimmer fate as slaves? 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. However, female child slaves had to endure yet another hardship that made life that much more difficult. Young African girls that were enslaved were sexually abused from an early age. Olaudah Equiano, in Interesting Narrative, tells of misfortunes that the female slaves met with at the hands of white men that he witnessed aboard a ship that belonged to his master, he writes: "I have even known them gratify their brutal passion with females not ten years old" (p. 483) Equia... ... middle of paper ... taken advantage of, put down, and stripped of their dignity after they were victimized and sexually abused. Jealous and enraged mistresses, who were dismayed at the fact that their husbands were living a life of infidelity, mistreated them. In some cases, they were deprived of their most prized possessions, their children. This kind of life for the female slaves was overwhelmingly painful. They dealt with many circumstances that were not a part of the lives of male slaves. For this reason, it is fair to say that the lives of female slaves were harsher than the lives of male slaves. Works Cited Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself. 1861. Ed. Olaudah, Equiano. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Yassa, Written by Himself. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.
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