Slave Women

1191 Words 5 Pages
Question: Describe the daily lives of enslaved women as workers and as members of their families and of the slave community. How did women resist their condition of servitude? What circumstances made it difficult for them to do so?
In Deborah Gray White’s insightful book, Ar’n’t I a Woman? she assesses the profound issues and burdens female slaves had to undergo in the Antebellum South. The hardships that they faced were binary in the aspect that they included ideas of racism and sexism. Throughout their daily lives, slave women took on duties in their families and communities that were in sharp contrast to female roles within American society. White’s studies explore the experiences of slave women who struggled to keep their families together,
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Family was seen as a sanctuary or as White describes it, “a haven in a heartless Southland.” Family replenished the ideals that slavery attempted to strip away from slaves. A male received respect, bondwomen were treated with compassion and overall marriage was a comfort to slaves at times. But there was still the overlying threat of men and women being sold to other slaveholders and becoming separated. And when they were separated, women were either required to find another mate to have more children, or both men and women gradually found another partner. But in the eyes of a slaveholder, marriage was a guarantee for the production of future …show more content…
If slave women seemed exceptionally strong it was partly because they often functioned in groups and derived strength from numbers (White, 119). With their sense of collaboration and linkage, female slaves created a female culture that did not necessarily fog the reality of the situation but actually brought purpose and meaning to it. And rather than being diminished, their sense of womanhood was probably enhanced, and their bonds to one another made stronger (White, 121). Women established bonds everywhere they worked together. Whether it was in the fields, or in the domestic sphere, and even medical care and child rearing. The greatest benefit of these female networks was how it helped with childcare. As stated before, it was challenging for a slave woman to both work in the fields and raise her children. And when the time came, fellow slave women were more than happy to step in and help those who had to fulfill their slave duties. Given the circumstances, the responsibilities of motherhood had to be shared, and this required close female cooperation (White, 127). Especially so, if a mother was sold or died on the plantation. The female network would make sure that child would never be without a mother. The tight bonds and cooperation between females on plantations made their reality more bearable and less

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