This essay aims to shed light on a topic that is not often talked about: violence inflicted by white women on the enslaved. The long and unchallenged ideology of paternalism only focuses on white men and lends itself to simplifying the extremely complex hierarchies at play. When studying the contours of womanhood and gender in the antebellum south, many historians revert to long held stereotypes and ignore that gender in this context is intimately tied to race relations and power that is often manifested through violence. Consistently brutalizing slaves was part and parcel of slave mistress’ identity. Slavery was not left at the front door of plantation households, it was brought into the home; it cemented deeply ingrained racial and gender hierarchies that can be boiled down to the tension between black female slaves and their white mistresses. The power that mistresses could and did wield has to be acknowledged, and the seemingly insignifi- cant ways that female slaves resisted was essential to claiming their identities as human beings and as women.
"Unmasking the Southern Belle & the Black Mammy: The Intertwined and Violent Nature of Southern Antebellum Womanhoods,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2019, Article 3.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2019/iss1/3