Frederick Douglass spent much of the assigned chapters talking about his dynamic with old mistresses and new mistresses and the contrast between them. Mrs. Lucretia instructed young child Frederick to clean himself and make sure he is perfectly presentable to the future masters and mistresses he was to meet in Baltimore. He was taught to never look mistresses in the face and crouch in servility before them. Upon seeing his new mistress Mrs. Auld, Frederick saw kindness and heaven in her. His crouching disturbed Mrs. Auld rather than put her at ease. He looked her in the face and she did not punish him. His life as a “city slave” was closer to that of a free man than that of a “country slave”. The lives of the women across the street were entirely different. Frederick considered Mary and Henrietta to be the most abused people he had ever known. Mrs. Hamilton, their mistress, covered their entire shoulders and scalps with sores and lashes.

Intersectionality is an important and overlooked concept with regards to civil rights. In order for Frederick Douglass to advance the 15th amendment, he felt required to remove women from it to make the amendment more likely to pass. Black women were still denied much of what Frederick fought to give his people. Being oppressed as a black woman was different from being oppressed as a black man. Frederick was treated much better than his female counterparts in Baltimore

The preface of the chapters talked about how Frederick Douglass worked with the women’s rights movement throughout his life until the very day he died. Before the Frederick Douglass reading, I knew nothing of his feminist streak. All I really knew of him was that he ran away from slavery and spoke up about it with the Republicans. Never before had I heard he attended the women’s rights rallies. He died speaking at one. Reading the chapters in a feminist lense, I am able to see how he focuses on how women interact with their surroundings. He deeply personifies them while leaving his male owners more ambiguously personified. Through this subtle writing, Frederick is able to shift his focus towards women while not blatantly stating his suffrage opinions that he feared drowned out his work towards the 15th amendment. Frederick cleverly eases his readers to take on women’s perspectives so as to help ease the readers into slightly more feminist view points.

 

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