When Rape was Legal is the first book to solely focus on the widespread rape perpetrated against enslaved black women by white men in the United States. The routine practice of sexual violence against enslaved black women by white men, the motivations for this rape, and the legal context that enabled this violence are all explored and scrutinized. Enlightening analysis found that rape was not merely a result of sexual desire and opportunity, or simply a form of punishment and racial domination, but instead encompassed all of these dimensions as part of the identity of white masculinity. This provocative text highlights the significant role that white women played in enabling sexual violence against enslaved black women through a variety of responses and, at times, through their lack of response to the actions of the white men in their lives. Significantly, this book finds that sexual violence against enslaved black women was a widespread form of oppression used to perform white masculinity and reinforce an intersectional hierarchy. Additionally, white women played a vital role by enabling this sexual violence and perpetuating the subordination of themselves and those subordinate to them.
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