Argumentative Essay on Racial Sexual Assault

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The main argument about the assigned paper is how white men and women used their power to sexually abuse black slaves. A big issue about this topic is how the authors define sex crimes in this time period. Bourke (2007) stated that “the standard conceptualization of rape as a tool of patriarchal oppression as well as the traditional un-feminist notion of women as too weak, emotionally and physically, to commit serious crimes, let alone sexual abuse, and the idea that men cannot be raped” (as cited in Allain, 2013, p.28). Although this may be true, it is still debatable whether white women would have sexual relations with black slaves for the mere pleasure of it and to not feel lonely, or for them to simply want a feeling of power over somebody because women have hardly any power over anything in society. The thought of feminine figures being inferior to men throughout history up until this point in time might have provoked the wives of planters, who felt sexually oppressed and frustrated, to force slaves into sleeping with them. They accomplished this by blackmailing them with accusations of attempted rape or murder, which would have resulted in serious consequences for the victim.

It was very common for these relationships to result in an unwanted pregnancy, which would lead to inhumane acts against the youth. The practice of infanticide was common after the birth of a mixed infant. There was a case about a Jamaican slave named Sabina Park who was accused of killing her young child and underwent trial for said actions. Park claimed that she “had worked hard enough for 'Backra' already and that she would not be plagued to raise the child… to work for white people” (as cited in Allain, 2014, p.1). This woman had admitted to killing her 4-month-old baby and was hanged because of this. This would end up being one of many cases involving the murder of a toddler. The act of infanticide would be used as a means to avoid scandal by the white family.

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According to Civil War abolitionist commander, Captain Richard J. Hinton, “I have never found a bright-looking colored man, whose confidences I have won… who has not told me of instances where he has been compelled, either by his mistress, or by white women of the same class, to have connection with them” (as cited in Allain, 2013, p.29). This is an example of the perception that black slaves were really used as a means of employment of power rather than as real sexual partners for oppressed wives.

Other people who would take advantage of male slaves were the planter's daughters. Harriet A. Jacobs’s 1861 indirect autobiography 'Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl' speaks of a planter’s daughter that chose the 'most brutalized' slave to have sex with. Jacobs (1861) stated: “I have myself seen the master of such a household whose head was bowed down in shame; for it was known in the neighborhood that his daughter had selected one of the meanest slaves on his plantation to be the father of his first grandchild. She did not make her advances to her equals, nor even to her father’s more intelligent servants. She selected the most brutalized, over whom her authority could be exercised with less fear of exposure” (as cited in Allain, 2013, p.30). The outcome of situations like the one Jacobs talks about are exactly those that lead to infanticide, or simply the poor child being sold into slavery. For these women, ordering the slaves to have sex with them was also a method of rebelling against society’s both literal and moral rules involving sexual interactions with a slave.

Men did in fact have established relationships with such people. One of these was Thomas Jefferson, who had an extensive intimate connection with one of his slaves. Her name was Sally Hemings, the black woman who was publicly known to be sexually involved with Jefferson. James T. Callender claimed that the founding father “for many years past has kept, as his concubine, one of his own slaves. Her name was Sally. The name of her eldest son is Tom. His features are said to bear a striking although fable resemblance to those of the president himself. The boy is ten or twelve years of age. His mother went to France in the same vessel with Mr. Jefferson and his two daughters. The delicacy of this arrangement must strike every person of common sensibility. What a sublime pattern for an American ambassador to place before the eyes of two young ladies!” (Callender, 1802). In favor of this argument, Sally supposedly “negotiated with Jefferson to return to enslavement at Monticello in exchange for 'extraordinary privilages' for herself and freedom for her unborn children” (Monticello, 2012, p.1). This eventually led to Thomas fathering at least six of Heming’s children, and “four survived to adulthood and are mentioned in Jefferson’s plantation records: Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston Hermings” (Monticello, 2012, p.1). In the end, this is still one of the biggest interracial scandals to have ever been made known to the public in this time period, and it would have never left anything of a good reputation for the man in such a case. Considering Jefferson was a wealthy and powerful figure, it is no surprise that something of this magnitude occurred.

Charles Ball’s autobiography (1837) describes meeting “the daughter of a wealthy planter, in one of the lower counties of Georgia” (as cited in Allain, 2013, p.27) who had conceived a slave’s child. He also detailed that “the girl was kept in her father’s house, until the birth of her child, which she was not permitted to nurse; it being taken from her” (as cited in Allain, 2013, p.27). Yet another encounter that supports my argument on how women would simply use black male slaves to express a form of dominance and power over somebody that had none whatsoever.

As I stated before, the inhumane abuse that was done against both black men and women throughout history has given us a sense of how this relatively old practice of discrimination had laid the foundation for what we see as modern-day racism in the United States of America. This is a very serious problem in our society because our nation is a country of immigrants and we have people from all over the world living and working amongst us. Due to this, every time any type of conflict between races causes a huge outrage that usually results in either extensive collateral damage to businesses or injured protesters. Since the government we have is based on freedom and unity as a population, the strong segregation of races does not allow us to fulfill this ideology of a free country.

After these men and women sexually abused their slaves, they only created problems for themselves and the white race as a whole due to the interactions between these individuals on an intimate level. As a result, slaves would either be executed for infanticide or for simply sleeping with the planter’s daughters. Another unfair thing that I’m re-stating is the oppression these women felt and the sexual frustration of not being able to accomplish their vital needs accordingly. This is another controversial topic in today’s society because now women, in general, are going against the idea of male possession and feeling of superiority over the female figure. Equal pay for both genders in any job is yet another useless and confusing form of discrimination against women. If we seek a stable and prosperous nation, we must set aside discrimination and racism as a whole for then to be able to become the free nation that our founding fathers thought of back when they were writing the documents that allowed for what we have today.

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Argumentative Essay on Racial Sexual Assault. (2023, November 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/argumentative-essay-on-racial-sexual-assault/
“Argumentative Essay on Racial Sexual Assault.” Edubirdie, 21 Nov. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/argumentative-essay-on-racial-sexual-assault/
Argumentative Essay on Racial Sexual Assault. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/argumentative-essay-on-racial-sexual-assault/> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
Argumentative Essay on Racial Sexual Assault [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Nov 21 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/argumentative-essay-on-racial-sexual-assault/
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