Women and Slavery

Good Essays
Gender and Slavery in America Deborah Gray White’s “Ar’n’t I a Woman?” attempts to illustrate and expose the under-examined world in which bonded, antebellum women lived. She distinguishes the way slave women were treated from both their male counterparts and white antebellum women by elucidating their unique race and gender predisposed circumstances, “(…) black women suffer a double oppression: that shared by all African-Americans and that shared by most women” (p. 23). In all, black women suffered an exclusive oppression due to their specific race, bondage, and gender. This essay will attempt to explain how institution of slavery did not protect women from the injustices placed upon them but instead, how they had to create unique and…show more content…
Gray White explains, “Female cooperation (…) helped foster bonding that led to collaboration in the area of resistance” (p. 125). These relationships not only fostered rebellion in terms of preventing white masters from controlling bonded women’s reproductive life, but they also served to diminish rape and sexual exploitation which enslaved women repeatedly experienced.
Beginning when Englishmen traveled to Africa in order to purchase slaves, black women were perceived to be individuals who were exceptionally sensual. In fact, “One of the most prevalent images of black women in antebellum America was of a person governed almost entirely by her libido, a Jezebel character” (p. 28-29). Further, the sexual activities of these women often became topics of public conversation and thus, one of the most personal aspects of black women’s lives would no longer remain sacred. To further illustrate the inappropriate nature regarding the interpretation of bonded women during the antebellum period, Gray White details: women’s naked bodies were frequently exposed during whippings, inappropriately uncovered and even fondled during auctions, and the clothes they were forced to wear in order to perform assigned tasks were viewed as promiscuous (p. 33). Because these women were viewed as carnal objects, white masters often
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