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Rape and the Social Control of African Americans Sociology of Rape John Hamlin Sociology of Rape John Hamlin.

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Presentation on theme: "Rape and the Social Control of African Americans Sociology of Rape John Hamlin Sociology of Rape John Hamlin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Rape and the Social Control of African Americans Sociology of Rape John Hamlin Sociology of Rape John Hamlin

2 Pre-Civil War South Race Relations in General North/South Black Women Considered Property Very complicated issue Not treated the same every where Human but not Race Relations in General North/South Black Women Considered Property Very complicated issue Not treated the same every where Human but not

3 Eugen D. Genovese Roll, Jordan, Roll 1976 [1972] Black Women were raped by Overseers Masters Other Slaves Institution of slavery frames all sexual relations Black Women were raped by Overseers Masters Other Slaves Institution of slavery frames all sexual relations

4 Genovese (1976:415) “To risk some generalizations: (1) Enough violations of black women occurred on the plantations to constitute a scandal and make life hell for a discernable minority of black women and their men.

5 (continued) (2) Much of the plantation miscegenation occurred with single girls under circumstances that varied from seduction to rape and typically fell between the two. (3) Married black women and their men did not take white sexual aggression lightly and resisted effectively enough to hold it to a minimum.

6 (Continued) (4) Most of the miscegenation in the South occurred in the towns and cities, not on the plantations or even farms. With all these qualifications, miscegenation had a profound and in some respects devastating effect on southern life.”

7 (1976:416) “Fancy-girl” Cost of slaves varied Blacksmiths - $2,500 Prime field hands - $1,800 Beautiful girl or young woman - $5,000 “Fancy-girl” Cost of slaves varied Blacksmiths - $2,500 Prime field hands - $1,800 Beautiful girl or young woman - $5,000

8 House servants with special services required for: Wealthiest planters or Unmarried sons House servants with special services required for: Wealthiest planters or Unmarried sons

9 (1976: 33-34) Rape was rape of white women The rape of black women did not exist in law Black on black rape was handled by the master Trials of black offenders seemed fair Public opinion was calm, few lynched Rape was rape of white women The rape of black women did not exist in law Black on black rape was handled by the master Trials of black offenders seemed fair Public opinion was calm, few lynched

10 (1976: 34) Punishment for Rape was Death Castration declined but remained in Missouri into late antebellum period Punishment for Rape was Death Castration declined but remained in Missouri into late antebellum period

11 Willie Morris North Toward Home (1967:79) I knew all about the sexual act, but not until I was twelve years old did I know that it was performed with white women for pleasure; I had thought that only Negro women engaged in the act of love with white men just for fun, because they were the only ones with the animal desire to submit that way.

12 Post Civil War Until 1960s Rape was used as social control of blacks by lynching men (Ida Wells) In the last two decades of the 1800s there were 1,540 lynchings (most black) compared to 1,214 executions Declined through 20th century but until WWI the average never fell below 2 or 3 a week! Rape was used as social control of blacks by lynching men (Ida Wells) In the last two decades of the 1800s there were 1,540 lynchings (most black) compared to 1,214 executions Declined through 20th century but until WWI the average never fell below 2 or 3 a week!

13 Antebellum - Emancipation Lynchings were setup as the protection of white womanhood against the “Monstrous Beast, crazed with lust” From only 300 lynched, about 10% were black Lynchings were setup as the protection of white womanhood against the “Monstrous Beast, crazed with lust” From only 300 lynched, about 10% were black

14 Tool of Psychological Intimidation Central to Race Relations Designed to control the behavior of all blacks Trying to maintain the social order Central to Race Relations Designed to control the behavior of all blacks Trying to maintain the social order

15 Hortense Powdermaker After Freedom: A cultural study in the Deep South (1938) Found that 65% of white respondents believed that sexual assault of white women justified lynching

16 The Clansman Written in 1905, middle of three books By Thomas Dixon Portrayal of a white girl and mother raped by blacks. They committed suicide because of the shame Birth of a Nation Written in 1905, middle of three books By Thomas Dixon Portrayal of a white girl and mother raped by blacks. They committed suicide because of the shame Birth of a Nation

17 Major Court Cases Scottsboro Nine tried for rape of two white women Willie Mcgee Executed Emmett Till Scottsboro Nine tried for rape of two white women Willie Mcgee Executed Emmett Till

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19 14 Years old Came from Chicago to small town for the summer Was lynched and mutilated for Whistling at a white woman 14 Years old Came from Chicago to small town for the summer Was lynched and mutilated for Whistling at a white woman

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21 Kathleen M. Blee Women of the Klan (1991:13-16) Klu Klux Klan Raped women, especially black women during raids Rumors of rape, lynching, sexual mutilation - used to intimidate and terrorize Protect white womanhood Klu Klux Klan Raped women, especially black women during raids Rumors of rape, lynching, sexual mutilation - used to intimidate and terrorize Protect white womanhood

22 Jacquelyn Hall Maintains that lynching was used to establish a hierarchy among men Jessie Daniel Ames (1936) “White men have said over and over - and we have believed it because it was repeated so often - that not only was there no such thing as a chaste negro women - but that a negro woman could not be assaulted, that it was never against her will.” Maintains that lynching was used to establish a hierarchy among men Jessie Daniel Ames (1936) “White men have said over and over - and we have believed it because it was repeated so often - that not only was there no such thing as a chaste negro women - but that a negro woman could not be assaulted, that it was never against her will.”

23 Symbolic Importance Leering laws equated staring with rape As it worked out, less than a quarter of lynch victims were accused of rape Leering laws equated staring with rape As it worked out, less than a quarter of lynch victims were accused of rape

24 However, they received the most attention and publicity, newspapers would write about lynchings that were going to happen

25 Myth of the Black Rapists 1950s and 1960s rape reports in the paper were much more likely to look at black offender and white victim cases; during the 1960s the NYT printed 249 articles on rape, 49% were identified as racially oriented, 90% of those were black offender and white victim

26 Justice (?) System Since 1930 to 1976, 453 men executed for rape, 405 were black, almost all of the victims were white LeFree found rapes that were black men and white women remains seriously prosecuted Black offender on black victim declines; black women can’t get raped Since 1930 to 1976, 453 men executed for rape, 405 were black, almost all of the victims were white LeFree found rapes that were black men and white women remains seriously prosecuted Black offender on black victim declines; black women can’t get raped

27 Duluth Lynchings lynchings/ lynchings/ Duluth Lynchings lynchings/ lynchings/


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