Slavery is an act of owning another human being for personal purposes where the owner has the right to limit a slave’s freedom and human rights. Historically, people recognize slavery through the colonization of African countries. However, there are many types of slavery, including sexual harassment, domestic servitude, and forced labor. David Walker and Sarah Grimke are among abolitionists who advocated for the eradication of slavery and equality. While Walker fights against colonial slavery, Grimke’s advocacy focuses on women’s slavery and gender equality. This paper compares and contrasts the ideas and perspectives of the authors regarding slavery in America, its effects on society, and reforms to slavery.
Authors’ Perspectives on Slavery
In both documents, the authors regard slavery as an evil act that oppresses and degrades humanity. Slavery violates individuals’ rights to emotional, physical, and spiritual satisfaction. Grimke argues that enslaving women is unethical and degrading to women’s virtues. Grimke uses an ethical argument from Kantian, which opposes the treatment of women as a means to an end in fulfilling men’s needs (Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, RTAP, 222). Grimke’s slavery perspective of women includes denying girls the right to education on the belief that they are inferior and less intelligent than men. The author emphasizes the treatment of black women the most because they face racial inferiority and prejudice on top of gender oppression. Women also face pressure even in a marriage where they get harsh treatment from their husbands. Most societies view women as subject to their husbands’ needs physically and intimately (Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, RTAP, 223). When a man refuses to indulge in sexual favors, it is acceptable in society. Yet, women cannot reject their husband’s sexual advances regardless of the situation.
According to the author, women are not given the same opportunities as men regarding productive opportunities such as careers and public speaking. Despite being knowledgeable about human rights movements and slavery, society denies women the opportunity to express their ideas in public or justice courts. Men decide on all issues regarding life, marriage, sex, and finances. For example, the author states that men are in charge of marriage proposals and may choose whom to marry, but women do not choose a partner (Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, RTAP, 224). Human beings are equal in the eyes of God; thus, men and women should have equal rights to participate in public speaking, marital affairs, and job opportunities.
Effects of Slavery
Sexual slavery degrades and demoralizes women’s self-esteem and relationship management. Husbands who treat their wives as means of pleasure regardless of their feelings devalue their sensuality and gender role. Grimke state that women who engage in loveless unions and forced intimacy from their husbands feel like ‘legal prostitutes’ (Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, RTAP, 224) rather than wives. As a human being, a woman has needs that men should consider during intimacy. Apart from intimacy, women face challenges of early marriage, teenage motherhood, and illiteracy. Women have no say in matters relating to family planning, leading to constant parenting from an early age.
In Walker’s pamphlet, he describes the effects of slavery as creating misery among slaves. Slavery promotes intellectual and spiritual ignorance through experiencing harsh conditions. Christian brothers and sisters turn against each other to appease tyrants (Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. RTAP, 221). According to the author, slavery is an instrument of brutality and murder among slaves and their owners. Slaves are killed and physically abused regardless of color. Slavery affects individual beliefs in religion and Christianity, leading to Christians questioning God’s power and existence, leading to many non-believers.
Walker uses God’s wrath on the day of judgment to warn people who practice slavery. The author argues that God sees everything that happens on earth, and he will remember everyone’s transgressions when giving punishments. The pamphlet insists that God is fair and cannot tolerate injustices upon his people. Slavery is inhuman and opposes God’s nature and expectation of humanity. Walker emphasizes God’s dislike of slavery when he rescues Israelites from Egyptian rule (Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. RTAP,221). Likewise, God will save slaves and punish slave owners in his own time.
The author considers working for slave owners a sin and a betrayal to fellow brothers and sisters because God will also judge Christians who associate with slave owners in oppressing their kind. He states that God observes everyone’s actions, such as “fathers beating their sons” (Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. RTAP, 223) and “mothers beating their daughters” to satisfy their tyrant employers. Christians should be at the forefront of fighting against slavery rather than staying quiet and indulging in oppressive activities. However, Walker contrasts his belief in depending on God for rescue by proposing opposition groups fight against slavery through violence. Walker believes that slaves can only obtain freedom through resisting oppression and getting rid of their masters. On the other hand, Grimke stands for gender equality and proposes peaceful reforms by ensuring equality through fair distribution of resources and opportunities.
Slavery is immoral and has adverse effects on individuals regardless of color or gender. According to the authors, slavery is an appalling phenomenon in society and God’s eyes. It is a source of ignorance intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally, and American society uses it to oppress people and suppress their freedom and rights as human beings. Effects of slavery and oppression include women suffering from emotional, financial, sexual, and intellectual affliction due to servitude slavery. Colonial slavery leads to brutality and deaths among populations. Although Walker suggests violence to end oppression, peaceful methods are more effective as they involve less bloodshed.
Grimké Sarah Moore, & Bartlett, E. A. (1988). Letters on the equality of the sexes and other essays. Conn. Web.
Newman, R. S., Rael, P., & Lapsansky, P. (2001). Pamphlets of protest: An anthology of early African-American protest literature, 1790-1860. Routledge.