Female Slaves In The Plantation South, By Deborah Gray White

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Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South, written by Deborah Gray White is a project to reveal the experiences and tribulations of slaves in the antebellum South. White felt as if the lives of female slaves were inadequately represented. White states that “For black women, race and sex cannot be separated. We cannot consider who black women are as black people without considering their sex, nor can we consider who they are as women without considering their race.” (White, 6). The womanhood of black and white women was interdependent and relied on one another. The white woman’s superiority came from the racism that degraded black women. Sexism was a factor that caused these groups of women to have so little in common. African …show more content…
Black women endured repeated rapes and were constantly surrounded by violence. They were beaten in front of their children and witnessed their children being beat. These effects of abuse spawned low self esteem, anger and depression within African American slaves. In the Southern states black women were not able to enjoy the same privileges as whites and to be of color was a symbol of degradation. White women in America were expected to be passive because they were female, but black women had to be submissive because they were black and slaves (White, 17). This is what made the difference in the responsibilities and sex roles of black and white women.
African American females have a unique situation because they are apart of two of the most improved ideologies in American history such as: women and Negroes. Both of these ideologies have been generally dependant politically and economically upon white males. In retrospect, both of these groups have been labeled as powerless and inferior to the white man. One of the most prevalent images of black women in the antebellum America was of a person governed entirely by her libido, a Jezebel. A Jezebel was the
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Slave women have been characterized as self-reliant and self-sufficient because of the lack of male protection. They had no choice but to develop their own means of resistance and survival. Female slaves often worked with black men, performing tasks that were “too difficult” or “inappropriate” for women. All the women in general worked hard, but when a white women did field labor it was temporary and irregular. Women slaves were much more confined to the plantation than men. They had to nurse children, who could not have even been their own; they had to weave baskets, wash clothes and perform medical treatments. On average slave women outlived slave men by two years. (White, 132). A man was most valuable when he was strong and energetic, qualities associated with youthfulness. In the slave community a female slave was less likely to be separated from children due to the fact that she would be the one to nurse and nurture them into becoming stronger slaves. They often took the role of becoming a mother to a slave that has been separated from his or her estate. Men slaves often lost their wives and children. Their manhood was often belittled by a master who would beat their wives in front of them, leaving them powerless and unable to protect their wives. The men would run away to escape the assaults on their manhood, leaving their families behind because it would

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