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Ain't I A Woman- Bell Hooks

by: Ariana Yancey

Ain't I A Woman- Bell Hooks AFR 204

Ariana Yancey
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This set of notes is from the first set of reading material assigned. It will highlight the most important info of the text as well as included page numbers for reference. Feel free to make request...
Creative Black Arts
Davey D
Class Notes
slavery, BlackWomen, Staus, roles




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ariana Yancey on Wednesday September 7, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to AFR 204 at San Francisco State University taught by Davey D in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Creative Black Arts in African Studies at San Francisco State University.

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Date Created: 09/07/16
Ain’t I a Woman? Bell Hooks I. Black woman’s experience in America is complex A. Sexism was as large an oppressor as Racism for Black women (p. 15) 1. Women did not have control over their sexuality; men made the executive decisions a. White men created rule encouraging White women to procreate with black men to produce more offspring (p. 15) b. Because of this, Black women were the last to be chosen of slaves and frees (p.16) 2. White men against this concept of white women mixing, created new rule that Black women’s' children would be slaves (not free like white women’s' children). This made them high commodities (p. 16) B. Idea of sexism (for white men) began pre-slavery. 1. Back in Africa, white men saw Black women’s' "obedience" and decided to capture them for it. (p. 17) 2. Kept them unchained when bringing them to America because they did not pose a threat and were used to harsh conditions (or so White men believed) (p.18) a. Rape b. No clothing c. Brandings d. Beatings 3. These conditions marked the beginning of slavery. (P. 19) C. Destruction of human dignity, removal of names and status, removal of language, & removal of African Heritage was crucial in making Blacks slaves. (p. 19) 1. Slave ships were psychologically dehumanizing (p. 20) 2. Black men were demoralized by their lack of power and influence in the new world (p. 20) 3 However, most scholars tend to focus on the demoralization of Black men and neglect that of Black women. (P. 22) 4. However, with the addition of sexism, Black women’s experience was perhaps worse than Black men (p22) D. One area that really emphasizes this notion is Work. (p 22) 1. Black women assumed both male and female roles in work- the masculinizing of Black females (p. 22) 2. Black women soon came to realize they were viewed as surrogate men by white men in power. (P. 23) 3. Because of their work experience in Africa, Black women were thought of to be the best laborers possible (p. 23) 4. Failure to uplift this idea resulted in severe punishment. (P. 23) 5. These harsh punishments remained true whether they were in the fields or in the house (p. 24) E. But this was not as dehumanizing and demoralizing as sexual exploitation (pg. 24) 1. Black girls lived in constant fear if being raped by whites and Blacks usually between the ages of 13-16. (p.25) 2. Often Masters would bribe the young Black girl, force her to sleep in the same room, or punish her to get her to submit to his will. (p.25) 3. In large, Black women were seen as property. (P. 26) 4. To get Black women to accept being sexually exploited would support White hierarchy and absolute power. (P. 27) F. No help for the Black woman against sexism or racism 1. Most white women, who were involved in the abolitionist movement were only concerned about saving white men. (P. 27-28) 2. Even those who sympathized with Black woman did not/ could not express this openly. (P.28) 3. Modern historians undermine the sadistic depravity of White men during Slavery. (P. 28) 4. But the brutal treatment of women highlighted misogyny (p.28-29) G. Fear of sexuality (rooted in Christian belief) caused White men to often blame women for their lustful feelings. (P.30) II. Economic gain for White America caused a shift in white men’s depiction of white women. (Adulteress---Goddess) (P.31) A. This came with trade-offs for the White woman 1. White women, in return, had to suppress natural sexual urges (p.31) 2. Forcing white women to suppress this nature only reinforced white men's hatred towards women. (P.32) B. This occured at the same time as the exploitation of black women. (P. 32) 1. White colonizers were eager to categorize blacks as sexually savage (p.33) 2. Most described the assault against Black women as prostitution, despite most never seeing payment (p.34) 3. Feminist historians still down play the role of sexism on Black women. They assume that Black men felt demoralized because they couldn't protect Black women. (P. 34) a. Black men probably felt protective over all Black women after their shared experience of slavery. (P. 35) b. It was more likely, however, that Black men felt scared as they witnessed the acts against Black women, fearing similar terrorization to themselves. (P. 35) 4. Black men were known to protect the women in their family only. Some Black men even participated in the rape of Black women. (P. 36) C. It was hard for the Black woman to seek help from any group to protect her from the harsh conditions of slave life. (P. 36) 1. White women, whom you would assume to sympathize on the basis of femininity, often held black women responsible because of the teachings on morality and the idea of women being temptress. (P. 37) 2. Naked whippings also added to the lack of protection. (P. 38) a. These whippings were inflicted by white men and white women (P. 39) D. Breeding was another way of demoralizing Black women. They were forced to reproduce quickly in order to produce more slaves. (P. 39) 1. Those who reproduced many children were more marketable and often given rewards. (P. 41) 2. But many of the slave’s children died, either through miscarriage or birthed stillborn. (P. 42) III. Recapping the main ideas. A. The sexual exploitation of Black women was a direct result of America's patriarchal society. (P.42) B. Racism determined Blacks would be enslaved. Sexism was responsible for Black women's experience being harsher than Black men's. (P. 43) C. As a result of sexism, Black sub cultured emerged mimicking the white culture in which they were being oppressed by. (P. 44) D. Black men did not assume the roles of Black women. (P.44) E. Often, scholars say that Black women’s roles de-masculinized Black men, but evidence suggests otherwise. (P.46) F. Black men were already powerless and were denied the right to provide for their family or assume power unlike the white man. (P. 46) G. Black men did not feel de-masculinized as much as they felt outraged and angry for not reaping the benefits of their labor. They wanted the privileges of white men. (P.47) H. On the other hand, Black women wanted the same privileges of white women. They came to resent their roles in the field and preferred the domestic role and power inside the house. (P.48) I. However, their fight for equality with their white sisters only upheld the sexist, patriarchal system that oppressed them. (P.49)


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