Twelve Years A Slave
Gender inequality is among the main social problems that are experienced by the masses across the globe. It mainly entails suppressing one gender that is considered inferior to the other. Today, women are taken to be the inferior gender, therefore, are generally viewed as weak. This is accompanied by giving certain duties to them, and usually considered to be their own role models.
This paper aims to address the position of women in the slaveholding world as described by Northup. From the text, women have no power or right to protest against the evil actions that they are subjected to.
An ideal example is Eliza who does not have any say on her slave job that she has to do forcefully. She is unable to work as required due to the suppression that is subjected to. Slaves as considered to be tools of wealth accumulation and benefits to their slavers. According to the recollection by Northup, ‘’I was the Fulton of Indian Creek,’’ (99), women are portrayed as people who just follow the given orders by their superiors, usually men. The superiors use women as tools for generating wealth for themselves. On the other hand, Emily’s father attempts to introduce her to slavery by is rescued by Freeman who is against the act. This is an indication that women are threatened even by their own families. As it has commonly been reported, women are enemies to their fellow women, but it is also a fact that not all women are friendly to other women.
Northup portrays women as people who are unaware of their rights as well as their freedoms. They tend to keep their mouth shut even when oppressed. Characters like Eliza or Patsy can be said to be strong and fearful. This is because they fail to speak up and protest when they are whipped by their master. They bear the pain and strive to always work hard as per the requirements of slavery. Women who are enslaved experience a lot from their women masters like Mistress Epps, who is notable for enslaving women. Enslaved women undergo suppression and their voices are not to be heard, thus, are exposed to hilarious environments that leave them traumatized. Women like Mistress Epps are considered to live in a world of their own. They re oppressive to fellow women, thus, their voices are heard only by the women whom they have enslaved. They act as rulers, making them enjoy their rights fully and also the powers that they hold on to, contrary to the experiences that the enslaved go through.
There are different kinds of vulnerability to brutality that men and women are exposed to. For example, men undergo physical brutality while women are forced with both physical and emotional brutality. Apart from the hard labor that women are subjected to, they are also sexually abused by their slave masters. Besides, it is also true that men and women are subjected to almost equal measures of brutality. For instance, the text points out that women work just in the similar way as their male counterparts. Northup refers to them as ‘‘lumberwomen and excellent choppers who are like any other men in piling logs’’ (156). Women like Eliza, are expected to do farm work, which should be done by men. This is an implication that slavery does not consider gender. The only advantage of the enslaved women over enslaved men is that they may get some pity from the men they work with, hence some limited protection. For example, Northup is seen refusing to whip Patsy and the master is forced to whip her on his behalf. Enslaved women are more at a disadvantage compared to enslaved men since they are highly vulnerable to sexual harassment unlike men. Therefore, a discussion question pops up, ‘’Are women the weaker sex as has always been said, since this case shoes otherwise?’’