Social Scientist. v 12, no. 138 (Nov 1984) p. 66.

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period must not lead us to underestimate the larger change which had taken place.

Davis5 analysis makes it very clear how the racial situation of the black woman determines and gives a special character to her sexual situation even in the post-slavery period. But that this itself is the result of the partial coincidence of race and class is left relatively unelaborated. The changing character of this oppression too is uncharted. In actuality, historical circumstances may make the class consciousness of the black woman secondary to her racial consciousness so that even as a Tree' labourer within the capitalist system, her prime concern may be her speciality; but for analytical purposes, it is impossible to think of the racial situation of the black women independently of her position within the relations of production. Racialism in capitalist America has its raison d^etre in the fact that capitalism can only survive by fostering a condition of exploitation within exploitation. It is a prerequisite of American capitalism, but historically it is one among many. Davis9 tendency to see the racial consciousness of the black woman as identical with her class-consciousness, therefore, leaves certain lacunae in her working out of her theoretical position. Her treatment of the interactions between race and class, and class and sex is not as lucid as that of the interactions between race and sex.

For instance, in the first chapter, the black slave woman is shown as representing a "new standard of womanhood" different from that of the white woman. As a labourer she represented a full unit within the labour force, worked as hard as the male slave and was not spared even the most arduous forms of work because she was a woman. At home, this "equality in oppression" (p 19) which she bore with her men, enabled her to enjoy sexual equality within the family, which was not available to the white bourgeois woman of the same period who was being pushed out by developing capitalism from her socialy productive functions into the limited role of a housewife. It is asserted that this "new standard of womanhood'9 enabled the black slave woman to resist better the racialist values of her masters as well.

It is on the basis of the slave woman's position within the relations of production that the distinction between her position and that of the bourgeois woman is made. Further, Davis thinks of this "new standard of womanhood" as available also to immigrant white women workers of the same period. But that the negro woman could acquire a special militancy against racialist sexist values because of her position within the relations of production as a slave is neglected by Davis. Nor did she acquire it automatically, but through her fight against the anaesthetic effect of dominant ideology. The character of Eliza in Uncle Tom's Cabin, "white motherhood incarnate, but in blackface" (p 27), need not have been such an oddity as suggested by Davis among the black female slaves who worked as domestic servants, just as the Christian patience and docility of Uncle Tom is a historically viable possibility.

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