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Frederick Douglass

             Slave narratives such as The Narrative life of Frederick Douglass and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl help readers try to experience and understand what life was like as a slave. These writings really get into specifics regarding the treatment of African-Americans in terms of gender and color during this time period. Before the Civil War, slave narratives such as these were the first to use such dramatic personal experiences of African- Americans in a text. These narratives, as well as others helped create terms such as "personal as political" and "consciousness raising", which were coined during the 1960's Women's Movement. These phrases have their philosophical foundation in the Abolition Movement of the early nineteenth - century America. .
             Being a woman of color becomes a competing site for the intersection of race and gender, with all the prejudices, obstacles and strengths this implies. For the slave woman, race and gender meant a double oppression. Not only did another own the produce of her labor, but her body and her reproductive power as well. Harriet Jacobs" Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl brought into the public and political arena the sexual oppression of captive, black women. Jacobs" work found its place in history as a "slave narrative" protesting the abuses perpetrated against captive men and women, but it reaches far beyond the boundaries of this genre and stands as an important feminist document. This narrative is a real life demonstration that the social structures placed on nineteenth-century women to maintain piety, purity, and submissiveness were only applicable in certain ideal settings for white women and an impossible code for slave women to follow. In struggling against the brutal dynamics of a system that simultaneously set before her ideals of "true womanhood," yet refused to acknowledge her as a human being, Jacobs rises scarred but victorious.

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