Slavery in history: two accounts

 Slavery during the Civil War was a variety of things. It was racist, unfair, revealing of social status, revealing of political preference, and often times scary. In my Women’s Studies class this week, we read and noted two separate accounts of the slavery days. The first was Lucinda Davis, a slave to an Indian who spoke creek, and the second was Mary Reynolds, a girl born into slavery. Their accounts are both very real, but there are some differences in the way that each woman was treated.

Lucinda’s record of the slavery seemed light. She was basically called to slavery because the “big man” in the Upper Creek’s child named Luwina had a baby boy. Lucinda often found herself looking after this child. She recalls many particular events in her lifetime.. She recalled many of her recipes she used, such as the one in particular for Sofki. She recalled that her master always had some in the house and offered it to anyone who wanted some. She also recalled how her master would buy cloth and clothe his slaves. She recalled dancing and the funny songs that were made up in accordance with the dance, and she also remembers a less exciting dance known as the “drunk dance,” where they apparently cheat on each other under the excuse of alcohol, and the consequence of that on the woman is to apparently have the “rims of her ears” cut off. As well as these happy times, she also experiences some less happy memories. She remembers the beginnings of the war, the customs at funerals and the way they would shoot their guns, and the running away of the other slaves, leaving only her there. Overall, Lucinda probably wouldn’t be particularly happy that she is a slave, but she seemed content with her life.

Mary, on the other hand, witnessed some unfortunate events. Her master was a seemingly pretty wealthy doctor, who would buy the best slaves he could find with his fortune. One of the first stories she tells about her time in slavery was the fact that they would beat their workers, stating that “slavery was the worst days was ever seed in the world.” She discussed her food, saying that sometimes the slaves could have a tiny patch of food to grow and she ate potatoes often. She also recalled that sometimes, she would literally work until it was so cold that her hands began to bleed. There was much mistreatment in this slave community, and a man named Mr. Kidd once beat her almost to death when he thought she might have known something about the escape of one of her fellow slaves. She finally is able to move on with her life in Texas after the war. Unlike Ms. Davis, Mary was in a bad place in slavery

These may both be accounts of slavery, but they are entirely different. Though slavery probably wouldn’t be fun in either account, Lucinda had a much better time with it than Mary. In slavery, sometimes slaves were treated with respect, but most of the time, they were treated as bad as criminals.





Blair, my second life.

As all of you can probably tell from the pictures from a couple days ago, I have a Second Life avatar. Her name, as stated in the last post, is Blair Goodwin. She looks about my age- college age, and I chose her for a variety of reasons.

In real life, I am a young, short, skinny blonde. Despite the fact that I work out daily, I am not nearly as toned as my alter ego avatar. She is tan, dark haired, and she stood out to me when it came time to choose my avatar. She is sexy, fierce, and the way she is dressed seems to me like she doesn’t mess around. Though she has this fierce body with sexy clothes to match, I do feel as if she had to conform to some social codes to look so ready for action. When men are depicted as fierce heroes, they tend to be wearing clothes that are significantly less sexy than men, Let’s look at, for example, Superman versus Wonder Woman. They are dressed in roughly the same colors, same style. The only major difference is the sex appeal. Wonder Woman’s short skirt and corset-like upper make her more sex appeal than superhero. This is probably the same case for Blair, who somewhat reminds me of the female version of James Bond- a hero just as fierce, but James Bond probably wouldn’t be caught dead in those short shorts.

Having an avatar, thus far, has been like living a second life (pun intended). Though each and every one of us as people are constructed in beautiful ways, it allows us the freedom of expression that we probably can’t get in the real world. I have seen, in my limited experience with Second Life, avatars in astronaut suits, robot avatars, women with male avatars, men with female avatars, et cetera. In real life, it is hard to just completely change your gender, and many people in real life don’t actually intend to change their own gender. It allows the opportunity to live as a virtual man, or woman, without becoming one in real life. It allows us to run around the green Earth in space suits, as robots, or as a vampire. It allows us to change ourselves in ways that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, in the real world. In my personal experience, I would never try to wear the black outfit Blair wears. It looks like it would just be uncomfortable and tedious. In Second Life, however, there seems to be no discomfort in more ways than just one- you can be whatever you want, whoever you want, wherever you want. And if you don’t like something about yourself, you can just change it with the press of a button.

Sitting down to ponder gender differences

Sorry about the bombardment with photos, I wanted to give a complete and tedious but necessary visual of each posture I am going to be talking about. The last thing I want to do is confuse.

We will start with which positions look like female positions. Position number one looks as if my avatar, Blair, is out daydreaming. This looks like a socially constructed female position because she is crossing her legs and her arm seems to be in a female position. Her attitude seems to be out of touch and carefree. Positions two and four look just as if Blair is uninterested, and I feel as if these could go for either gender, but I will say that I do see those particular stances more in females. Position seven seems girly given Blair’s thin build and short shorts, but I will admit to watching Chuck Bass, a very powerful man, hold this particular position while sitting on his couch on Gossip Girl. Blair’s face also conveyed a message of mischief, which is also similar to Chuck’s character.

The male positions were easier for me to spot out, granted that I am a female and tend to avoid putting my body into these particular positions. One thing that most of these positions have in common is the leg placement. In the more feminine positions, their legs tended to be more crossed or pushed together. Noticing position three, the first noticeable manly position in my eyes, Blair’s legs are sort of spread apart- I could see a guy in this position as he watches television with his guy friends. Positions five and six tend to share the similar leg qualities, and the positions tend to be more relaxed than the feminine prim-and-proper-esque positions. Position eight, the final position, is one that I found kind of ambiguous, as I have been guilty of stretching out in that position myself. However, it seems more of a relaxed guy’s position in this context to me. In each of these positions, I noticed similar expressions on Blair’s face, and they all seemed relatively relaxed and carefree. I feel as if these facial expressions sometimes relate to a man’s attitude in real life, and this may have a lot to do with why I placed the expressions in the categories as I did.

I was not only surprised at the reactions I had, but I was also surprised at how one simple thing can change an entire stereotype as to whether or not it is a “man’s pose” or a “woman’s pose.” For example, if Blair were to uncross her legs in position one, she would probably look more like a man who is sticking his hand up. If Blair were to cross her legs in position three, she would look like I do as I sit on my couch right now.

Gender codes not only play a strong example in posture, but etiquette as well. As the posture may suggest, female’s societal roles tend to be more proper than males. Females are supposed to be mothers, role models for proper children. Women are supposed to not burp in public, where if a guy does it, he is just fooling around with his friends. Women don’t discuss anything outside of the bedroom without receiving some kind of label, where if a man talks about that sort of thing, he is just fulfilling his drive. Women are held to much higher standards of etiquette.

That sentiment, right there, is the social construction of gender. It is the thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and attitudes that people hold in order to satisfy a gender role. Our society has only two main forms of gender, and that is male or female. However, gender can take on many forms. For example, in my discussion of the different positions, I noted that there are some positions that seem kind of ambiguous- they don’t have, to me, a general constructed outline of gender, but could go for either gender. Another person might look at the pictures and think, “there is no way that could ever be a (fe)male position.” However, anything socially constructed tends to be subjective, and that is what the definition seems to be as well. Some people believe in either men or women, and that person may be more strict of their definition of what it means to be a man or woman.