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The message of catherine clinton in the plantation mistress

Pantheon Books, 1982, Pp. She claims much focus has been placed on the southern planter and she wants to create a counterpoint focusing on the women of the plantations.

Questions?

Clinton's argument lies in the school of thought that white women in the South experienced the same oppression as the slave class by the patriarchal system that ruled all aspects of Southern life.

I believe she is making a huge leap in comparing the experiences of white women and slaves. White women, though they did not hold a high status, did have options concerning their lives.

It is difficult to make the connection with this glaring disparity. She makes a valid point in that women of all classes experienced forms of oppression within the patriarchal society of the South, but as historians seem to have a habit of doing, she goes too far in trying to prove her thesis. Clinton begins her argument by describing women as economic commodities, shipped from their homes in the Old World and married off against their will.

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From this point, women were constrained to by their duties as wives and household managers. Their daily lives consisted of rugged housework and managing the slave population. She even goes as far as to make the assumption that wives of small farmers had an easier life because they had fewer slaves to manage. From this point, Clinton jumps back to the marriage practices of the Old South. Women were forced to be the moral keepers of their families and were responsible for installing morals and good Christian values in their children.

Clinton tries to make the argument that men rarely had anything to do with their children from birth until adulthood and after this point, only the males. I believe there is enough evidence in Southern studies to refute this point. The issue of sexual scandal is addressed. Sexual indiscretions were not uncommon in Southern society.

  1. She even goes as far as to make the assumption that wives of small farmers had an easier life because they had fewer slaves to manage.
  2. Clinton begins her argument by describing women as economic commodities, shipped from their homes in the Old World and married off against their will. It is difficult to make the connection with this glaring disparity.
  3. The christian science monitor is an international news organization that delivers thoughtful the plantation mistress. And after just a couple of years managing most herself- she did not want to do the same.
  4. Message your name your email the plantation mistress. Clinton's argument lies in the school of thought that white women in the South experienced the same oppression as the slave class by the patriarchal system that ruled all aspects of Southern life.

Men were held somewhat responsible for these acts if they had seduced a young girl placed under their care, but more frequently, women were blamed and abandoned by their families and society, particularly if an illegitimate birth occurred.

Women felt so isolated, they often became addicted to laudanum so they would not have to experience the tremendous pain brought upon them by their everyday lives. In this area she goes overboard.

The message of catherine clinton in the plantation mistress

She appears to make excuses for women beating their slaves, especially their female slaves whom they often abused because of the affairs between the slave and the planter husband. She argues that the white mistress suffered so much abuse herself, similar to that of an abused child, that it was only natural for her to take her aggressions out on her slaves.

She also argues that the mistress was not responsible for her own actions and this is an argument that one cannot take as valid. Absolutely no self-responsibility is placed on these women.

  • Women were forced to be the moral keepers of their families and were responsible for installing morals and good Christian values in their children;
  • Some chapters, like the one on divorce, were so very dry, it is like reading stats lists.

Up to this point in the book, Clinton creates an image of Southern women as helpless victims, entirely void of any agency, having absolutely no control or say so in their lives and the directions they took.

She presents a completely one-sided image of Southern women, and in turn, Southern men, and completely disregards any historical evidence that might show another side of Southern society and the lives of its women. Fortunately, she does move on to present a more complete image of the plantation mistress and offers a more fair assessment of the South in general.

Women encouraged their daughters to exercise and pay close attention to staying healthy. Men were also concerned with the well being of their daughters as seen in a letter from one planter to his teenage daughter, begging her not to fall into the fashion trap of binding herself into a corset as it would be detrimental to her health. Clinton puts a small focus on women in the South, such as Angela Grimke, who dismissed her traditional role as a Southern woman and went on to become an abolitionist crusader.

Too much emphasis has been placed on deconstructing the myth of the Southern belle, which seems to lead to the other extreme, which makes the Southern woman a pathetic, mindless figure.