Females in Slavery Essay

Submitted By teddybear5106
Words: 909
Pages: 4

Within African American literature racism is a recurring issue; however sexism is a topic that is rarely addressed. Although slave narratives were initially used to enlighten others of the plight of slaves, they were also used to portray the tumultuous life of enslaved African American women. One could say that women in slavery had a harder time than men. Women not only had to be able to perform laborious tasks just as efficiently as men, but if they were considered attractive there was a greater risk that the master or owner would take advantage of them. The book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Linda Brent is the life story of a beautiful slave named Harriet Jacobs whom the plantation owner named Dr. Flint became obsessed with. He did everything in his power to make her submit to him. However, when she did not he tried to threaten her into giving herself to him. Harriet eventually took her fate into her own hands and had children by another well-off white man named Mr. Sands. This decision infuriated Dr. Flint and he even reduced himself to using her children as pawns to gain her submission. Harriet endured both emotional and psychological abuse. This is evident by Dr. Flint’s knowledge of Harriet being able to read; in which he would leave her degrading notes and expect her to reply. All of these things eventually pushed her to hide herself away. She experienced a psychological death, cut off from society and her family. However, during her time locked away she made provisions for a better life for herself and her children.
This novel showed how enslaved women had to fight to preserve their purity; a right that was viewed as an object that could be taken and controlled by the master or plantation owner. African American women were then reduced to using their bodies in an attempt to negotiate their freedom or improve the quality of treatment that they received. Not all women were able to escape the physical abuse that came with the cost of their beauty. Society had deemed it acceptable for owners to take advantage of their “property”; however that did not lessen the envy that emerged in the hearts of mistreated mistresses. In the book Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup a simple-minded slave woman named Patsey was constantly beaten for her mistress’ jealousy. Patsey was also a valuable asset to Master Epps because she could bring in more cotton then most men. Whereas on an ordinary day an average male slave would bring in two hundred pounds of cotton, Patsey could bring in almost five hundred pounds of cotton. Since she brought more profit to the Epps than two slaves, trading or selling her was unthinkable. However her strength was a blessing and a curse. If she did not bring in almost five hundred pounds daily her actions were seen as lax and she was beaten. Patsey was a slim, tall, and attractive slave who gained the attention of her lustful master, Mr. Epps. However, due to Master Epps indiscretions his wife looked upon Patsey with disgust and contempt. As a woman Mistress Epps possessed very little authority, but at her insistence Master Epps would beat Patsey to pacifier her anger. Although at times Mistress Epps would direct her rage toward Master Epps, those periods were short lived and few and far between. Patsey was a woman trapped between lust and hate. This novel portrayed how some enslaved…