White Women In Early America Essay

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Early American social hierarchies differed markedly for women of color—whether free or enslaved—whose relationships to the white regimes of early America were manifold and complex. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, women in the colonies of the English West Indies and Carolinas, particularly women of color, were seen as subordinate by white male slave owners because of race and shared oppression of the female gender. However, these women were a means of economic gain for white slave owners. Taken from Africa to the New World as slave laborers, white slave owners valued these women for their ability in domestic work and fieldwork where they performed primarily unskilled agricultural tasks, as well as their potential to bear children. White slave owners of the Early Americas, driven by greed and opportunism, used political laws, physical characteristics of women, and social constructs of gender roles to appropriate…show more content…
Ironically, though white perspective was considered repressed, sexual duties and childbearing were of primary importance to white men as they were inexplicably drawn to the ‘exotic charms’ of African womanhood and beauty. Early modern English writers did conventionally set the black female figure against one that was white—and thus beautiful. They were particularly intrigued by tawny appearances of the African Women.1 In June 1647, Englishman Richard Ligon recorded the physical appearance of a black woman he encountered in his True and Exact History of Barbadoes:

“she was a Negro of the greatest beauty and majesty together: that ever I saw in one woman. Her stature large, and excellently shap’d, well favour’d, full eye’d, and admirably grac’d . . . was with far greater Majesty and gracefulness, than I have seen Queen Anne, descend from the Chaire of State.”
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