Women's Role In Slave Resistance

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Though many people are aware that women played a role in slave resistance, when there is discussion, it is portrayed as though women were not truly involved in challenging slavery and were not change-agents in the slave communities. However, this is not true because women were quite vital to slave resistance movements. There is ample research that proves they participated in both violent and nonviolent methods to confront slavery and the authority of the White man. Yet, there is little research as to how and why slave women chose their approach to defiance. It can be assumed that certain conditions in a country influenced the slave women’s decisions, thus creating trends in slave resistance. Conditions, such as the demographics, geography, …show more content…
Jamaica is one of the larger islands in the Caribbean. It is also mostly mountainous with many small or underground rivers. Next, the demographics of Jamaica were consistent with the demographics of most countries in the Caribbean at that time. The female slave population was significantly lower than that of the male slave population. Richard Dunn reports that the amount of women was so limited, resulting in the number of mothers or potential mothers being “alarmingly small.” Infant-child mortality rates were high, while birth rates were considerably low. In fact, mortality rates in Jamaica were high period. Dunn notes, “[In western Jamaica] Mesopotamia [now called Barharm Farm] records indicate nearly two slave deaths for every slave birth.” Also worth mentioning is the fact that most plantation owners in Jamaica were absentee, and therefore, Black slaves far outnumbered the white citizens in the …show more content…
Slavery in Jamaica has often been characterized as brutal and violent from many historical accounts. Slaves, especially women, were burdened with a very heavy workload, as sugar became a staple crop in Jamaica during the 18th century. Also, as mentioned earlier, punishment was cruel, not excluding women either. According to Barbara Bush-Slimani, “[Only up until the last years of slavery,] Jamaican laws limiting the number of lashes which could be inflicted on slaves made no special concessions for women, pregnant or not.” However, after the slave trade was declared illegal, pronatalist laws became quite popular, especially in Jamaica. For example, women whose children survived for one month were awarded cash and also received bonuses around holidays. Additionally, after 1792, women could be excused from hard labor if they had six living children. Furthermore, sexual relationships between masters and slave women were an interesting dynamic in Jamaica. An example would be Phibbah, a creole housekeeper, who was labeled as the “wife” of Thomas Thistlewood, a chief overseer on a sugar plantation in Jamaica. Upon his death, Thistlewood made arrangements for Phibbah’s freedom and overall well-being. Such instances were documented frequently in Jamaican slave history. These conflicting demands of relationships, production, and reproduction placed enslaved women under

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