Intersectional Incidents: Harriet Jacobs and the Intersectionality of Slave Women’s Experience in Nineteenth Century America
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs illustrates how the intersection of slave women’s gender, race, and social class placed them in a distinct position of disadvantage within the hierarchy of society. Nineteenth century American society operated under a patriarchal system, which was also based on certain racist beliefs regarding black and other non-white people. White men dominated the topmost position in this hierarchy, while slave women suffered in the lowest. This thesis will analyze three recurring themes in Jacobs’ narrative. The first of these themes is the Cult of True Womanhood, which affected all women at the time. Second, the Southern justifications for slavery and the added fear of sexual abuse that plagued slave women, and thirdly, motherhood in slavery. The goal of this thesis is to highlight the particular importance of intersectionality within feminism, using Jacobs’ slave narrative as the starting point for intersectional feminism theory.
Faculteit der Letteren