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Gendered ResistanceWomen, Slavery, and the Legacy of Margaret Garner$
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Mary E. Frederickson and Delores M. Walters

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037900

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037900.001.0001

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Coerced but Not Subdued

Coerced but Not Subdued

The Gendered Resistance of Women Escaping Slavery

(p.49) Chapter 2 Coerced but Not Subdued
Gendered Resistance

Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the gendered resistance of women's efforts to maintain family ties even as they aborted their pregnancies, resorted to infanticide, or abandoned children and family in their quest to escape captivity and to embrace the consequences of freedom. Enslaved women such as Margaret Garner were forced to confront their “incompatible roles as a slave and as a mother.” Ultimately, maternal rites were not theirs to enjoy. However, enslaved women undermined slavery by subverting reproduction in refusing to conceive children, aborting them, or resorting to infanticide. Indeed, enslaved black women used abortion and infanticide to sabotage the perpetuation of slavery through economic and sexual exploitation of their female reproductive potential, depriving future generations of an enslaved workforce composed of their children.

Keywords:   gendered resistance, abortion, infanticide, enslaved black women, maternal rites, slavery, sexual exploitation, female reproductive potential, enslaved workforce

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