Title page for ETD etd-05262000-09340014

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Neely, Caroline Elizabeth
URN etd-05262000-09340014
Title "Dat's one chile of mine you ain't never gonna sell": Gynecological Resistance within the Plantation Community
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Shifflett, Crandall A. Committee Chair
Banks, Ingrid Committee Member
Bunch-Lyons, Beverly Committee Member
  • infanticide
  • resistance
  • sexual abuse
  • enslaved women
  • gynecological resistance
  • birth control
  • abortion
Date of Defense 2000-05-19
Availability unrestricted
The study of gynecological resistance as an integral part of the slave community has frequently been ignored in studies of the plantation South. Slave women actively engaged in both collective and individual acts of gynecological resistance. This work, "Dat's one chile of mine you ain't never gonna sell: Gynecological Resistance in the Plantation Community", explores enslaved women's use of birth control, abortion, and infanticide as a means to gain personal autonomy and control over their bodies. This study seeks to forge a collective narrative about the secret practices of slave women, while attempting to give them a voice of their own.

Relying primarily on the WPA slave narratives, as well as the Virginia Plantation records, this thesis first seeks to examine cases of gynecological resistance, as well as the motivations behind these acts. This thesis argues that enslaved women used gynecological resistance as a means to maintain some personal autonomy and control over their bodies, as well as the bodies of their children. The study illustrates that these individual acts became collective resistance, when the community worked to aid and protect women, who committed acts of gynecological resistance by keeping their secrets from the master. Finally, this thesis demonstrates how individual acts of resistance became collective, or day-to-day, in the forms of oral narratives about gynecological resistance that were passed along for the purposes of instruction.

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