Frederick Douglass And Celia A Slave

963 Words 4 Pages
While slavery produced harsh conditions for both men and women, it is clear within both, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” and “Celia, A Slave” male and female slaves had to overcome different hardships due to their gender. One of the main differences that Frederick Douglass described was that while both men and women were abused, men were rarely sexually abused which was not the case with female slaves. Another key difference is what each gender could aspire to attain within their lifetime as a slave. Men, such as Douglass, saw white men in society having power and dreamt of having similar standing. This translated into male slaves heavily valuing knowledge which could later translate into power. However, women could not have …show more content…
In fact, Douglass even wrote that his master, Mr. Covey, purchased his only slave simply to be a “breeder” (Douglass, 70). This exact scenario is also seen within “Celia, A Slave” as Celia herself is constantly having to put up with the sexual advances of her master, Robert Newsom. This alone put Celia at a tremendously horrific environment as rape does not only damage someone physically, but also mentally. Melton A McLaurin discusses within “Celia, A Slave” that, “Modern research indicates that rape victims experience a variety of responses: fear, rage, an overpowering sense of violation, sometimes helplessness, and a loss of self-esteem.” (25). No doubt, Celia experienced these things at one time or another with just how often she was sexually abused. Comparing this with Douglass’s experience as a slave, he would have only experienced physical torture. While Douglass may not have experienced the same sexual abuse, the physical abuse most definitely took a mental toll on him. This is due to the fact that male slaves saw themselves being beaten as them being stripped of their integrity. Douglass goes through this exact experience and at one point defends himself against his master which culminates in a fight. After his fight with his master, he is never to be whipped again. This is another vital difference in the …show more content…
In the case of male slaves, they viewed themselves as being able to become a valuable and educated member of society. Yet, female slaves often put relationships and family before their advancement towards freedom. Douglass’s thirst for knowledge is seen throughout his auto-biography. He saw an education as his only way to truly escape slavery and become an actual member of society. This is vastly different to Celia’s worries as she is constantly having to deal with her master raping her and later the consequences she faces for dealing with that matter. In addition, Celia has children who she cared for and looked after. While Douglass also had children, he does not dwell on this issue for any significant amount of time. This shows a clear distinction of what each gender focused on as their times as slaves. As mentioned previously, Douglass’s fight with his master showed that he could stand up to his master. This changed his inner identity bringing back his integrity, self-worth, and his desire to become a free man. Many men such as Douglass could afford to do such an act as the only retribution they faced fell unto themselves. While Celia also did ultimately stand up to her master, many women at the time were not willing to risk their family or relationships to do so. As McLaurin puts it, “Faced with sexual exploitation by a

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