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Arnt I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South

The Reconstruction of the South brought a new era for black women. For the first time, they were able to obtain some rights, hold their families together from racial oppression, resist economic and political manipulations, and maintain the integrity of their womanhood throughout the era. The historical circumstances of the era provided the avenue for fighting discrimination and inequalities. Some of the circumstances were as follows: 1) Subsequent rulings of the US Supreme Court affirming the citizenship of blacks forced the US government to recognize the rights of blacks (whether free or slave);

2) The Lincoln government ushered a new period of solidarity although in the shadows of racial hatred and prejudice. The Emancipation Act finally ended slavery in the United States. Blacks would have the same rights with whites. Although this was a genuine principle, racial discrimination persisted even up to the 21st century; 3) The abolition of slavery in most European countries create an atmosphere of concern in the United States, Many policy makers saw the need to abolish slavery because it was naturally irrational (since many countries were abolishing it).

For many Europeans (especially Spain and Britain), slavery was an “immoral” relic of past civilizations, never to be imitated by Christian states. This ‘pressure’ from European countries finally stopped when the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the crews of Amistad (during the presidency of Martin van Buren). These historical events created a situation called in sociology as “differentiated factoring. ” This concept assumes that if one situation is applicable to a category, then it must be also applicable to another associated category.

Since gender is a general category, then a particular situation will influence the behavior of its subcategories. This is though not realistic. Black men were accrued the greater benefits than black women. For example, during the Reconstruction period, a significant number of black men were elected to state legislatures. Black men were politically empowered in order to provide for grounds for political solidarity. Black women were generally excluded. Political rights were reserved for whites and some blacks. General Insights from the Book

White’s study produced significant results. Here are as follows: 1) Female slaves did the same work as men even when pregnant and sick. The concern of the slave owner was productivity and order. As much as possible, a slave owner should not own too many slaves. The risk of rebellion was very likely to occur if a slave owner had too many slaves; 2) The middle-aged years were the most labor-intensive years for a black woman. The life cycle of a female slave can be divided into three distinct work phases. At a young age of 7, the female slave did menial work.

At the age of 25, female slaves participate in farming and harvesting, doing the same work as men. At the age of 50, they were assigned to the owner’s household either as personal maids or house worker; 3) Female slaves experience super-exploitation. They were black, women, and slaves. All these categories implied natural inferiority; 4) And, female productivity varies significantly with fertility rates throughout states. In short, as the rate of natural increase falls (childbirth), female labor productivity decreases.

This finding confirmed the assertion in (1). The Impact of Emancipation After the emancipation of the slaves, the position of black women in American society did not change. Many blacks joined the working class in American cities and industrial centers. It can be said that the status of male blacks was lower than that of white women. With the rise of the feminist movement in the United States, female whites gained the support of female blacks. Their goals though differed.

While female whites competed for more power (representation), property, and rights, black women fought for relative equality. This divergence of goals revealed the inefficacy in uplifting the conditions of black women. The white female population was not fighting for relative equality but equality in all dimensions. Black women were fighting for relative equality; a principle that should have been achieved after the emancipation. Bibliography Whites, D. G. Aren’t I a Woman? : Female Slaves in the Plantation South. New York: W. W. Norton & Co. , 1999.

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