Slavery provided women from all over the globe with an equally devastating experience from all perspectives. Slaves were brutally taken from their homes and families and later forced to labor in harsh conditions with little in the way of basic rights. There was no defense against ruthless beatings and being cut off from loved ones. Western women had to take some unpleasant pills.
The difficulties started during the trip, which was in and of itself arduous, risky, and on which others even lost their lives. The women, who are typically seen as a weak creation, were met with poor circumstances when they arrived at their destinations. Just like the men, women were equally subjected to hard labor, sometimes even harder than the men.
We are introduced to Martha Jane, also nicknamed Calamity Jane, who are exposed to severe dangers during her emigration from Missouri to Virginia. She had to risk her life in crossing the swollen river by swimming across. She recites that she would sometimes be washed away to death (Calamity Jane 1896).
The women from China experience an even degrading environment. The women from China would only move to the US have agreed on a prostitution contract. The conditions of the contract were not favorable either. The master dictated the terms of the contract and set the rules as well. A contractee was offered advance payment of just $ 524 that they were supposed to repay by working for four and a half years under unfavorable terms.
From the document of Black Migrants to Kansas (1880), we see Mrs. William Gray, a woman whose close relatives face torture in the hands of their white masters. Her husband’s brother in law is shot dead before her aunt is struck for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of her son.
While these conditions are expected to make them weary and week, the slave woman became stronger and more productive.