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Directions in Sexual Harassment Law$
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Catharine A. MacKinnon and Reva B. Siegel

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300098006

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300098006.001.0001

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Slavery and the Roots of Sexual Harassment

Slavery and the Roots of Sexual Harassment

(p.457) 27 Slavery and the Roots of Sexual Harassment
Directions in Sexual Harassment Law

Adrienne D. Davis

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the ways that U.S. slavery functioned as a system of gender supremacy, entailing not only the dominance of whites over blacks but also that of men over women. The author has attempted to catalog the legal rules that compelled black women into productive, reproductive, and sexual labor crucial to the political economy. That project characterized slavery as a “sexual political economy” to make explicit the connections between its markets, labor structure, and sexual exploitation. Taking those insights to their logical conclusion, the chapter frames enslaved women's sexual coercion through their roles as captive workers to cast the institution of slavery in a new light: as an early and particularly virulent strain of institutionalized sexual harassment.

Keywords:   gender supremacy, U.S. slavery, legal rules, black women, sexual labor, sexual political economy, enslaved women, sexual exploitation, captive workers, institutionalized sexual harassment

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