Women and resistance to slavery in the British Caribbean
Struggle against slavery was an ever-present and enduring characteristic of Caribbean slave life, with women being no less
prominent in the resistance than men. Resistance to slavery was a significant part of the lives of female slaves and it took many forms, ranging from outright revolt to more subtle and less aggressive behaviour. On the Caribbean plantation complexes, many Europeans declared women slaves to be more troublesome than men and they often proved difficult and awkward to manage for colonialists. Women slaves did not succumb to apathy and resignation and would deliberately do their work and jobs incorrectly, despite being told repeatedly and instructed on how to do them the correct way. There is evidence from various sources stating women often avoided work, verbally abused overseers, faked illness, stole and lied. Some women refused to carry out their tasks completely.
Much of the informationgathered about ordinary women field workers and their reactions to servitude are found in plantation journals and punishment lists. Punishments for disobeying colonialists, according to data from records kept on numerous plantations, differed between men and women. When male slaves were punished, they received on average 15 to 20 “stripes” while the common punishment for women included a varied period of time in the stocks or solitary confinement. The punishment for Caribbean slave women was less physically demanding than that of Caribbean slave men. Punishment provided little or no deterrent to defiant slave women in the field.
Domestic servants were also noted to be irritating and particularly difficult. Occurrences such as minor theft or lies during questioning was a source of irritation for white colonialists. Furthermore, when these domestic slaves carried out their washing duties, they would use more than twice the amount of soap needed to complete…
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