Sexual Harassment Of Female Slaves

1310 WordsApr 11, 20166 Pages
In a book that brought the anguish of female slaves to light, Harriet Jacobs divulges into personal details exposing the jarring reality of a flawed legal system in order to ignite change as well as influence the culture of antebellum America. Sexual harassment of female slaves was a cultural norm in the South. Although women were publicly shamed for their sexual history, slave owners were never held responsible for their sexual wrongdoings and molestations against women. Linda claims that “slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women” (Jacobs chapter 14). Punished on a variety of levels, male slaves were often subjected and tortured physically; however, women were assaulted and tortured both physically and sexually, leaving physical and emotional scars. Slaves were frequently denied the right to marriage. Regardless of gaining independence from their master or not, enslaved women still struggled with subjugation to the popular idea of “true womanhood” (the idea that women should be submissive and domestic). Being a woman who encompasses all the “rules” of true womanhood, Aunt Martha endures the hardship of watching her own family become torn apart as they are sold, escape, or die due to the brutality of slavery. Female slaves tragically become dehumanized through not only the loss of community and family, but also the loss of hope of true freedom as well as control of their own bodies. Mental and physical cruelties slaves faced daily exceeded
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