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Female Rape Victims in the Old South

            In the late 1890's and early 1900's, a prominent double standard came about that affected hundreds of women in the south. Many whites at the time felt the need to reinstate white supremacy in their communities, and so the tactics of rape and the rape lynching narrative became most common. White men used white women to justify the frequent lynchings occurring in the south, portraying white women as victims of assault and those in need of protection. However, African American women who fell victim to rape did not receive the same protection and defense- leading to the double standard concerning how white women and black women were treated as rape victims. In the early 1900's, a woman's race and social standing determined her experience as a victim of rape in the south. .
             White women living in the south during the early 1900's had multiple privileges and advantages. One made especially clear in the documents from this time period was how a white woman who was a victim of rape was treated, and the response that her raping received from the public. For instance, a woman in Texarkana in the early 1890's accused Edward Coy of rape, and he was killed while claiming he was innocent. As Ida B. Wells includes in her work Southern Horrors, it was revealed that this woman was "of bad character" and was "known to have been criminally intimate with Coy for more than a year previous". Although this woman was known to have bad character, she was still "paraded as a victim" and her accusations were deemed true, showing how a woman's race, and not the truth or a woman's character, was most important in determining if she was indeed a victim of rape. In addition, a white woman who claimed to fall victim to rape received the communities' support. This white woman's rape inspired white men to take violent action against the man accused of being responsible, and also gave them an excuse to act out violently against innocent African Americans.

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