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Slavery: What Was It Really Like For Women?

1620 words - 6 pages

"Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women. Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own" (223).This excerpt is such a strong and powerful statement, but it is an excerpt that shows some direct evidence of the suffering of African American enslaved women. African Americans carried a huge burden because of slavery, but black women had to carry a double burden because of their biological makeup. To be a black woman in slavery was absolutely the lowest point in society, for an enslaved woman, it was an experience of emotional, mental, and physical anguish.Black women bore so many burdens during the time of slavery. Besides taking care of the children, families, and chores, they had to face the threat of sexual exploitation. When Harriet Jacobs first talks about bringing her new-born babe into this world, the first thing on her mind is realizing that her daughter will have to endure all the pain and suffering that she has. Black men did not have to worry about being rapped, like the black women did. Slave masters used black women for their sexual pleasures. If a slave woman rejected her master's advances, punishment was unbearable:"Sometimes when my master found that I still refused to accept what he called his kind offers, he would threaten to sell my child. 'Perhaps that will humble you, said he' " (222).If someone were to hear these words, what would they think? A mother would do anything for her child, even if that meant giving up her beliefs and values in order to protect her innocent, this meant giving into the slave masters advances for the protection of her young.Some slave women were even bought at auction blocks just for the fact of mere sexual gratification. This can be seen in William Wells Brown's account of Clotel, during the time in her life when her mother, sister and she were auctioned off to the highest bidders. It is very disturbing to see what the auctioneer says in order for men to pay a higher price for Clotel: "The chastity of this girl is pure; she has never been from under her mother's care; she is a virtuous creature. "Thirteen." "Fourteen." "Fifteen." "Fifteen hundred dollars," cried the auctioneer, and the maiden was struck for that sum. This was a southern auction, at which the bones, muscles, sinews, blood, and nerves of a young lady of sixteen were sold for five hundred dollars; her moral character for two hundred; her improved intellect for one hundred; her Christianity for three hundred, and her chastity and virtue for four hundred dollars more" (260).When William Wells Brown is writing this, he makes it known to the reader that the most important thing to these bidders was her purity. It states that Clotel was beautiful and it is made obvious that these white men wanted her for only one reason, sexual pleasure.Innocent slave women also had to deal with the fact that the master's advances on them would drive the wives of the...

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