History of white women having sex with black male slaves
White men routinely forced enslaved men to cater to sadistic fantasies and humiliations around the plantation: it was, perhaps, as much part of the apparatus of the slave system as sexual violence against enslaved women. Does such a history surprise you? The popular image of the American slave has changed dramatically over the past century, but most scholars have shied away from the dangerous territory of male sexuality. Unsurprisingly, what we have left are stereotypes. While all of these ideas gained traction in popular culture, they were promoted, and in some cases originated, in historical scholarship.
There is ample evidence of sexual relations, from rapes to what appear to be relatively symbiotic romantic partnerships, between white slave masters and black women in the Antebellum South. Much rarer were sexual relations between white women and black slave men, yet they too occurred. Using an intersectional socio-historical analysis, this paper explores the factors that contributed or may have contributed to the incidence of sexual encounters between elite white women and slave men, the power dynamics embedded in them, and their implications in terms of sexual consent. The paper demonstrates how upper-class white women who engaged in these relationships used sex as an instrument of power, simultaneously perpetuating both white supremacy and patriarchy. The lash and the foul talk of her master and his sons are her teachers.
White women of the pre-Civil War era were far more shrewd and sophisticated than stereotypes would have us believe. They were savvy economic actors, not airheads in crinolines and corsets. Jones-Rogers ought to dispel the myth of the Southern belle for good.