Arn't I a Woman? Essay examples

1659 Words7 Pages
Deborah Gray White’s Ar’n’t I a Woman? details the grueling experiences of the African American female slaves on Southern plantations. White resented the fact that African American women were nearly invisible throughout historical text, because many historians failed to see them as important contributors to America’s social, economic, or political development (3). Despite limited historical sources, she was determined to establish the African American woman as an intricate part of American history, and thus, White first published her novel in 1985. However, the novel has since been revised to include newly revealed sources that have been worked into the novel. Ar’n’t I a Woman? presents African American females’ struggle with race and…show more content…
The term Mammy, the premier house servant with expertise in all domestic matters and known for the loving way she raised the master’s children, was used to symbolize race and sex relations at their best. The image of Mammy justified slavery for many white Southerners, for she reflected a positive idea that slaves somehow benefited from the institution of slavery (61). White explores the master’s sexual exploitation of their female slaves, and proves this method of oppression to be the defining factor of what sets the female slaves apart from their male counterparts. Citing former slaves White writes, “Christopher Nichols, an escaped slave living in Canada, remembered how his master laid a woman on a bench, threw her clothes over her head, and whipped her. The whipping of a thirteen-year-old Georgia slave girl also had sexual overtones. The girl was put on all fours ‘sometimes her head down, and sometimes up’ and beaten until froth ran from her mouth (33).” The girl’s forced bodily position as well as her total helplessness to stop her master’s torture blatantly reveals the forced sexual trauma many African females endured. The next major topic of discussion in the novel is the nature of female slavery, in which White highlights the labor performed by female slaves and the masters’ expectations for childbearing. She describes how African American women were expected to perform duties of labor “with the strength of any man,” while also

More about Arn't I a Woman? Essay examples

Open Document