Black Women Insurgents on Abolitionist Battlegrounds
This chapter explores the gendered schema at the core of enslaved black women's abolitionist resistance and the scholarly neglect it received by examining the multiple and varied forms of resistance to labor and sexual abuse that four enslaved women engaged in: Mary Elizabeth Bowser, Margaret Garner, Harriet Tubman, and Mary Ellen Pleasant. In all cases, black women manipulated the stereotype of the hapless, deficient, enslaved black woman and used it as camouflage for their anti-slavery and anti-patriarchy insurgency. Either momentarily or permanently, Bowser, Garner, Tubman, and Pleasant became agents of their own or others' liberation. They exercised tactical ingenuity and rare insight into the illogic of both slavery and patriarchy. Ultimately, the success of these women's gendered resistance mystified antagonists, supporters, and scholars alike.
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