The baby in the woman’s arms was fathered by her master.
Slavery in the United States encompassed wide-ranging rape and sexual
abuse. Many slaves fought back against sexual attacks, and many died
resisting. Others carried psychological and physical scars from the
attacks. Soul murder, the feeling of anger, depression and low
self-esteem is how Painter describes the effects of this abuse not just
in a general way but closely linked to the conditions of slavery. Slaves
regularly suppressed their anger because they did not want to show
weakness in front of their masters.
Slave women often beat their
children in order to instill this value in them. This later on led to
repressed anger for their mothers for not properly protecting them.
Slave women often felt anger towards their mistresses when such abuse
occurred because their mistresses were like a mother figure to them.
Like Harriet Jacob’s said in her narrative, she believed that her
mistress was jealous that the master took interest in her which is why
she didn’t try to protect her. These types of incidents led to
conflicting feelings towards their mistresses, because on one hand
enslaved women felt that their mistresses really wanted to be like them,
which gave them a sense of freedom but on the other hand felt anger
towards them for not protecting them like a mother should. Overall,
victims of abuse during slavery like victims of abuse in today’s society
blamed themselves for their abuse. This led to them feeling isolated
and having many trust issues.
These psychological problems were a
mixture of the total environment slavery had as well as the abuse that
came with it. However, these insecurities for some slaves led to
rebellion and protest even if it was in a smaller form than some.
laws in the South embodied race-based double standards. Black men
accused of rape in the Colonial period were often punished with
castration, but the penalty increased to the death penalty in the
antebellum period. White men could rape female slaves without fear of
punishment. Men were also sexually abused by their slave owners as well.
Thomas Foster explains that though historians often focus on sexual
abuse during slavery, few focuses on sexual abuse of men because of how
sexual abuse and rape are defined. As a society rape is thought of as
only a female experience because it is defined along gender
characteristics such as, one must forcibly penetrate their victim.
However, Foster explains that one should move away from this definition
and should take into consideration the many ways someone might be able
to force or manipulate one into sex. However, the most important factor
as to why historians don’t consider slave men when analyzing sexual
abuse is because to evidence and records. Slave women’s evidence often
come from their offspring however, since men do not have that biological
trait it was harder than women to keep evidence of sexual abuse. Nether
the less, men were forced by their masters into sex and it was often a
form of punishment for misconduct. Slave men’s mistresses also
manipulated their slaves into sex. If a man refused or threatened to
tell their mistresses would wrongfully accuse their slaves of rape. Also
just like enslaved women were forced to couple and breed, enslaved men
were put into the same situations as well. Men were forced to impregnate
women, and after doing so frequently had to leave their families due to
being sold or forced into another family….
Angela Davis contends
that the systematic rape of female slaves is analogous to the medieval
concept of the right of the first night by lords. She also contends that
rapes were a deliberate effort by slaveholders to extinguish any spirit
of resistance in the female, and to reduce her to the lowest kind of
Sexual abuse of slaves was partially rooted in a
patriarchal Southern culture which treated all women, black and white,
as property or chattel. continue Reading HERE