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Inequality As A Female Slave. Essay

1144 words - 5 pages

Inequality as a Female SlaveSlavery was a brutal and inhumane institution driven by racism and the desire for cheap labor. White men stole Africans from their native land, stripped them of their homes, and treated them as sub-human. White men created certain measures to insure this inferior position of slaves. Not only were legal measures and laws set up, but also slaveholders established their own methods to keep slaves subordinate to the white community. Female slaves were often the targets of slave owner's plan for economic prosperity. Slaveholders used slave women and young girls to work in fields, perform household chores, produce new slaves, and serve as concubines to their masters. Indeed, masters victimized all slaves, but because female slaves often served as breeders and because legally slave women had no control over their own bodies, great deals of them were predisposed to sexual and economical exploitation by the master class. As a result of such helplessness, countless female slaves experienced far greater immoral abuse than their male counterparts did.A lack of legal protection in southern states made slave women defenseless. This situation stemmed from the fact that slaves were not considered fully human and that whites were unwilling to grant a black female the same personal rights, especially concerning rape, as a white female. As Melton McLaurin notes in Celia, a Slave, "law was used in an effort to categorize, to divide the society into two components, one slave and black, the other white and free" (McLaurin 111). White supremacy and black inferiority seeped into the laws of the national government as measures like the Three-fifths Compromise and the Dred Scott Decision rejected black women's humanity. Thus, if laws or slaveholders did not view female slaves as having the same rights or feelings as white females, their chances of fair legal action were slim. Female slaves were not legally protected against sexual advances made by their masters. In the case against Celia, the Missouri laws did not recognize the rape of slave women. In fact, "sexual assault on a slave woman by white males was considered trespass, not rape, and an owner could hardly be charged with trespassing upon his own property" (110).Consequently, slaveholders frequently raped female slaves and established their authority and power in society. Rape was common among a female slave and her masters, for a slaveholder felt that "ownership . . . entitled him to use her for his sexual pleasure" (25). This verbal and sexual abuse of young slave women was a form of mental and physical torture men in slavery never endured. Moreover, rape also served to be a profit for slave owners. Not only did slaveholders rape for sexual pleasure, but it also served to produce more slaves for the work force. On the plantation, whites used female slaves to produce and they acted as breeders like domesticated animals since "most slave owners did not care who fathered the children as...

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