Given the narrated stories in the books of history, it is true that the early nineteenth century was an era that was characterized by patriarchy in the United States of America. For instance, both men and women’s attitude toward sexuality were thoroughly twisted and used to oppress women. This was seen as normal as well since the women lived like they did not have any rights just like their male counterpart. Slavery which was a common practice around this period was used to perpetuate patriarchy and also used to perpetuate violence. When talking about violence melted on women or any other human being, it happened in many forms that include sexual, emotional and in worse scenarios physical violence, with that being said, slavery was worse against black women in America.
In regards to Southern slavery, it was often maintained and characterized by sexual violence. In the Picquet story, Picquet is described as a good-looking white-skinned slave who was both a product and a victim of the sexual assaults. Within the story also, she is described as one of those slaves who had no sense of responsibility by the slave master neither were they driven by the need to have genuine relationships. Unfortunately or fortunately, Picquet ends up with a rapist slave master in her teenage as the master forced himself into a relationship with her. When we look at the sexual assaults that characterized southern slavery, it was in a form of violence that could even result in physical violence when the victim is being raped and she is trying to defend herself in return. This was the situation that the relationship between Picquet and her master suffered. It was one of the major examples where the use of force and violence was perpetrated by the male chauvinism and the disrespect of the black women slaves.
Besides promoting patriarchy, the stories also revealed white men’s attitudes towards women and especially black women whom they happened to have enslaved. The women of African origin are described as good women just like the ones from the white descent and yet they “have no rights that white men are bound to respect”. (Pg 2). Mr. Randolph is married but he still fathers Picquet. This also shows how the male whites also disrespected their white wives because no doubt they were being viewed as just mere human beings. For instance, Mr. Randolph forbade Picquet’s mother from telling the truth about him being the father of her daughter whose mother was a slave and whom he had raped repeatedly until she got pregnant. However, in as much as it was not her intention to have a child with her master, Randolph’s wife is dissatisfied with the situation and which the dissatisfaction ironically exposes Picquets mother to emotional violence and later she is sold off away from Randolph’s family and her daughter.
It was considered that emotional violence was also used as a tool to intimidate slaves so that they can be denied the chance to demand their rights from their masters. For instance, Picquet experienced emotional violence from her master which meant her to feel useless and powerless. Back in her mind, she knew she was obligated to go to church but the master always threatened and intimidated her that he will catch up with her and her tricks. As a result, the threats and intimidations worked perfectly well since they shut her off and she never went to church even when given a chance. In addition, emotional violence was also used as a ruling tactic by the masters of slaves. For example, Picquet’s mother suckles both her baby and Mr. Cook’s child as well. This exposes Picquet’s mother to emotional violence as she says “I always had plenty to do. Fast as one child would be walking’ then I would have another one to nurse.” (Pg 3).
Unfortunately, many slaves reaction to violence is more fear as they have no choice. Picquet reacts timidly to her master’s form of violence because there is nothing she could do. For instance, when being accused of going to church to see other men, she does not defend herself against those allegations of her intending to go out and meet other men in the church. Instead, she does not complain nor deny the allegation but just acts as a slave and agree to what the master accuses her of. Picquet too admits having been severely whipped by her master. However, according to her, she saw the mistreatments by her master through whipping as an act of being funny despite him being violent. For instance, sometimes he would begin to fight at the front door and fight everything he came across.
Other times, he would also be really funny (pg 2). In as much as Picquet is exposed to physical violence, she has been made to believe that it is not wrong, rather an act of the master being funny towards her. Therefore we can say that individuals cope with violence by sharing what they go through with their slave master which was the case between Picquet and her master. Through sharing they bond and feel at ease as they realize they are not the only ones who go through these challenges. Picquet reveals how she coped with her master by not doing what was not wanted of her however important it was to her.
The slave masters attitudes for sex are often one-sided. To the master, sex is good if it happened between a slave and her master. However, sex is bad if it happens between a master’s slave and another man who is not her master. For example, when Picquet’s master is told that his slave is going out with another man, he believes it and whips the girl and finally sends her away to New Orleans to be sold. Sex is also a duty of the slaves to their masters as Picquet narrates “I was a little girl, not fourteen years old. One day Mr. Cook told me I must come to his room that night, and take care of him. He said he was sick and he wants me and another slave girl to come to his room and take care of him.” (pg 3).
The slaves’ attitude of sex differed from that of the masters. The slaves are saddened and scared by the sexual assaults they go through. However, sometimes they felt that maybe it was part of what a slave was supposed to offer to her husband as they do not even bother to report assaults and attempts to any authorities. It appeared that women slaves did not have an understanding of their own rights as slaves. Instead of Picquet saying no to her master Mr. Cook when she is asked to shut the door, she simply stands there crying instead of resisting or even fleeing. However, women are also dissatisfied with the sexual assaults they are exposed to. Picquet decides to rather get whipped than fall into the trap of being sexually assaulted by Mr. Cook despite the threats she is given (Picquet, & Mattison, 2003). “Then I came to the conclusion he could not do anything but whip me- he could not kill me for it: an’ I made up my mind to take the whippin’. So I didn’t go that night.” (pg 5).
To conclude, southern slavery in America was one that greatly disadvantaged black women. The black women were repeatedly assaulted by their masters both physically, sexually and emotionally. The white men felt no obligation to respect their slaves who were black women. However, much of the women slaves were dissatisfied with the treatment by their masters since they did not have options but to bear with the situation.
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