Sexual Power and Its Role in the Life of Harriet Brent Jacobs

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Sexual Power and Its Role in the Life of Harriet Brent Jacobs The true to life story, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, that Harriet Brent Jacobs shares about the hardships she endured under the constraints of slavery is inspiring, thought provoking, and impossible not to read all at once. Throughout her writing she describes many instances pertaining to encounters of a sexual nature. While some of those encounters are controlled, most are instances of sexual assault at the hands of her owner, Dr. James Norcom, referred to as Dr. Flint throughout the story. While it is obvious that this cruel injustice would have atrocious effects upon Ms. Jacobs, there is far more to consider when contemplating the issue of sexuality and the ways that it was used throughout the narrative of Ms. Jacobs’ life. Reading through the text you can envision the effects this type of sexuality had on the female slave, as Ms. Jacobs paints a harrowing picture of just that with her words. In Part V. ‘The Trials of Girlhood’ Ms. Jacobs writes about Dr. Flint, “Sometimes he had stormy, terrific ways, that made his victims tremble (African American Literature).” She went on in the second paragraph of that section to describe how the doctor constantly tormented her with threats of what was to come and with reminders that she belonged to him. She felt as if she was never out of his sight or presence. The fear that slave girls, especially those who were seemingly cursed with attractiveness, must have been completely overwhelming. I would assume that they never knew a moments rest because they were always anticipating the next attack. Perhaps it kept many of them from ever having a meaningful relationship with a man of their own choice. Sexual assault affects different women in many different ways. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, “Women who are sexually abused may suffer serious health problems, such as sexually transmitted infections,...
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