The experience of slavery was terrifying to both African men and women. These Africans had their culture, homes and families taken from them without explanation. Enslavement of Africans was attractive to Europeans in providing forced labor because of their civility, location, and weakness in warfare. Therefore it was nearly impossible to break the chains of colonist and fight slavery. In addition, most Africans all came from different tribes and spoke different languages which made it hard to communicate between each other. Despite their common misfortune, the experience of enslavement for African men and women was not the same. Gender played a huge role in differentiating the experiences between men and women. “Black women experienced the vicissitudes of slavery through gendered lives.”1 Gender roles impacted the enslaved experience for males and females differently. By examining reproduction, mobility, and sexual exploitation, this distinction is made evident.
Reproduction is a part of a woman’s femininity and a step towards motherhood. During slavery the birth of a child was no longer seen as a blessing and moment for celebration but rather economic gain for the slave-owner. African women already had the burden of performing hard physical labor like men but also bearing children at the same time. Women were expected to do both efficiently and the experience of reproduction,” significantly influenced the violence done to the enslaved women,” and their ability to survive it.2 In addition women slaves were recruited at a high rate from slave owners across the Americas because of their ability do physical labor and reproduce at the same time. In fact, after giving birth women slaves “complained of miscarriage and sterility in addition to ill health.”3 This made women experience different from men because men could not reproduce nor be affected as much from beatings in caparison of body stature. Women were not only enslaved for being black but also for being...
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