Brutality toward Female Slaves

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“Slavery is terrible for men, but it is far more terrible for women”(Jacob, 86), Harriet Jacobs mentions this in her autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, in which she portrays the hardships of a slave girl that not only expands to her personal experience, but also all enslaved women during that time period. Women were viewed as objects . The issue of oppressing women is a significant concern when considering gender as it constitutes the idea of gender inequality, more specifically the idea of men feeling superior to women. Besides, the piece portrays the idea of men belittling women and emphasises the way that women were seen just as objects for men to fantasise about and exploit.

Despite the fact that both male and female slaves experienced numerous hardships, their gender modified the intensity of their oppression. There were various ways in which Harriet Jacobs’ experience, a female slave, vary from those of male slaves. Even though, the life of a slave had numerous hardships expedited to it, being a lady in this strata just brought on another variety of suffering. Slave women had a background marked by sexual brutality or liaisons with their masters, and in addition their kids would acquire the ranking of their mothers. This just added on layers of trouble expedited to them by their masters. Not just had they had the worry to perform brutal obligations but also the unwanted sexual advances of their masters. In that era, intersectionality interconnected with power to set barriers for women.

Sexual brutality or relationships between masters and women slaves were normal amid this antebellum America. Not to say that there were no types of sexual brutality or relationships between the masters or mistresses and the men slaves, as Harriet Jacobs referenced a slave she knew called Luke, who was “not allowed to wear anything but his shirt in readiness to be flogged”(Jacob,214). In spite of the fact that she doesn’t make reference to any kind of sexual relationship, the way that he was practically exposed appears to subtly indicate it. However, a heterosexual type of relationship or violence between a master and his slave, specifically a female slave, was more common and wide-spread. We also see in this book, that her master had made several attempts at building a relationship with her. Mr. Flint masked himself as Jacobs’ protector, justifying his actions as a good deed.

As her master he controlled each part of her life. As a female slave the most terrible thing is for ones master to notice them. Jacob expresses how she was continuously tormented by Mr. Flint, she couldn’t breath without his presence drifting over her. “My master met me at every turn, reminding me that I belonged to him, and swearing by heaven and earth that he would compel me to submit to him” (Jacob,31). She was reminded everyday that she was in his control and he could do with her however he wanted. Abuse by their masters was by all account not the only brutality they suffer, their jealous wives additionally abused them, regularly in cruel ways. Female slaves persevered through psychological damage alongside physical abuse, from their masters as well as from their envious wives.

Female slaves strived to remain as pure and innocent for however long they could. Jacob wished to remain a virgin until marriage however in particular, she wished to have a decision of when to lose her virginity or give consent to engaging in sexual relations. Female slaves had no say on the sexual brutality they regularly experienced from their masters which tragically tore them of their innocence. This idea is displayed when Jacob clarifies the contrasts between the free and the oppressed, “She, also, was very beautiful; but the flowers and sunshine of love were not for her. She drank the cup of sin, and shame, and misery, whereof her persecuted race are compelled to drink…” (Jacob, 33). Jacob was judged cruelly by her grandma and the community who disagreed with her sexual activities. Even though her only option to survive was sleeping with the white man who she didn’t despise as much as her master, her reputation was forever tainted , much like all the other slave women who performed sexual activities before marriage.At last, this consistent objectification of women lead to a normalising of rape and assault culture.

Moreover, Jacob not just describes the hardships of being a women, but also a mother. Pregnant women were usually treated the same way they would be normally, inhumanly. Women managed carrying children under cruel and harsh conditions. There was no such thing as maternity leave. There was no such thing as medical checkups and a clinic to deliver. They endured the same abuse and daily tasks regardless that they were pregnant or not. While men were not susceptible to this difficulty, even though they faced harsh treatment daily, the fact that the masters would make a pregnant woman work hard, makes it almost inhumane. Jacob depicts the edginess of a mother wishing death upon her very own child, knowing what anticipates them.

“Alas, what mockery it is for a slave mother to try to pray back her dying child to life! Death is better than slavery…” (Jacob, 69). There was a law that was passed in every one of the states since the colonial period, which Jacobs appropriately describes ,“The child shall follow the condition of the mother”(Jacob, 46). With this law set up, regardless of whether a women slave was to acquire kids from her master or a free black man, they would regardless be named and ordered as slaves. This law had two purposes: one, that no offspring of theirs from a slave lady would have any connections to his stature and benefits and two, that the slave master’s workforce would naturally increase.

Harriet Jacobs herself, to shield her children from being broken into slavery, undergoes various struggles to name a few; running away from a plantation, living in a small garret in her grandmother’s shed for seven years and in the end, travelling to the free north states thus leaving behind her grandmother and everyone and everything else she had ever known. Jacob embodies the challenges a female slave persevered. Male narratives at the time portrayed striking pictures of physical sufferance, beatings alongside other physical dehumanising abuse. Contradicting to women who endure more of a mental trauma, such the emotional affliction associated with loss of their kids.

Slavery took away all the essential human rights for each one of the individuals who were thrown into it. For both male and female slaves it was hard, they both suffered in their own ways at the hand of cruel white people with power. Both stripped of basic human rights, both treated like less than a human being. Male and females endured inhuman treatment that traumatised them in different ways, nonetheless creating deep wounds literal and figurative. Despite the fact that slavery was horrifying for all, it was more terrible for women. It is not humane to leave women to suffer in an environment that will damage them physically and emotionally. This was caught by Harriet Jacobs as she so splendidly put it, ‘Superadded to the burden common to all, they have wrongs, and sufferings, and mortifications peculiarly their own,”(Jacob,86).


Cite this paper

Brutality toward Female Slaves. (2021, Feb 05). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/brutality-toward-female-slaves/



How much did slaves get paid?
The vast majority of labor was unpaid. The only enslaved person at Monticello who received something approximating a wage was George Granger, Sr., who was paid $65 a year (about half the wage of a white overseer) when he served as Monticello overseer.
How were slaves treated during the Civil War?
There is no one answer to this question as slaves were treated differently depending on who their owner was and what part of the country they were in. Generally speaking, slaves were treated poorly and were not given the same rights as free citizens.
What role did female slaves play?
Female slaves typically worked as domestic servants, though some were forced to work in the fields alongside their male counterparts.
What were slaves whipped with?
FLOGGINGS. The slaves are terribly lacerated with whips, paddles, andc .; red pepper and salt are rubbed into their mangled flesh; hot brine and turpentine are poured into their gashes; and innumerable other tortures inflicted upon them.
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