Ar 'N' T I A Woman Analysis

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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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Some women who worked as cooks would poison the food they prepared for their masters, others would simply runaway. Some women were even more deliberate and would kill their masters, set parts of the plantation on fire or resist whippings (White, 77-78). Sexual exploitation of women slaves by their masters was unfortunately common, and some women resisted with brute force. Rape of a slave woman was not considered a crime, so women had two choices, to fight or to yield and there are many circumstances where fighting back was successful. But the most interesting form of resistance is the idea of faking illnesses to avoid work or curb their working conditions. Since a prominent role for slave women was breeding the next generation of slaves, women used their pregnancy as an vehicle to “feign illnesses” and get out of work. White points out that female medicine was still a mystery, and female slaves took advantage of that. Slaveholders did not have any way of knowing whether an illness was legitimate or not, but they were not about to compromise the future of their institution by forcing a pregnant female to work. However, this is not to say female slaves did not suffer from illnesses not caused from childbirth or pregnancy, as plantations were infested with diseases. Finally, females also participated in self-imposed sterilization and abortions. This was another act of resistance for those who refused to reproduce for the perpetuation of

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