Rape in the Civil War

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Leftyhunter

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Again, let's not dilute the the immediacy of what happened in the Civil War by comparison to what happened in other major wars.

To bring up that rape is just "what happens in war" distracts from the unique setting of what happened to African-American women in the Antebellum and Civil War period, and it borders on excuse for not giving the specific topic a more thorough analysis.
No sure about. Were Union soldiers acting as racists when they raped slaves? One can argue they were and it's a reasonable argument. Did Confedrate soldiers rape escaped slaves? Possibly yes since Wheelers men joyfully killed escaped slaves trying to follow Sherman's March through Georgia.
If we're going to throw rocks at Union soldiers for rape must we be silent on mostly Southern soldiers raping Mexican woman less then twenty years earlier?
Are Southern women more precious then other women that American soldiers have raped over the years and yes Southern men just as raped in uniform as any other region?
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Leftyhunter

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Why would rape in the ACW be different then any other conflict? Young men
To suppose this a general discussion on the horrors of war. Well ok, but I'm pretty certain everybody's already on the right side of that one (PTL!)

Per the OP, there were conditions for rape unique to the Civil War. Anything on that then?
Most soldiers like most young men are young ,dumb and full of let's say testorone. They have guns the woman don't or not enough to make a difference. What makes an ACW soldier different from any other soldier when it comes to rape? Southern white men killed and wounded their friends and family members in the service so why aren't Southern woman fair game? We know there not but lots of soldiers thought differently.
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byron ed

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...What makes an ACW soldier different from any other soldier when it comes to rape?...
The ACW soldier - unlike soldiers generally in other wars - had the additional condition of permissions in the form that no black could testify against a white in court. Union soldiers operated in a South that itself practiced abuse of black women on an institutional scale -- meaning no captured Union soldier (or Confederate soldier in the ranks) need fear being tried for "merely" raping a black woman as long as the "property" was returned "in working condition." In addition, soldiers of both sides could count on the condition that black women were not protected by firearms. Blacks, including the husbands and siblings of black women, were not allowed to have firearms -- again unlike the case in other wars generally.
 

diane

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You made a pretty good point there, byron ed. There were so many laws the slave owners put up like curtains to hide what they could do. Murdering a slave was against the law but if you murdered one in front of twenty other slaves, no witnesses, no murder!
 

byron ed

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No sure about. Were Union soldiers acting as racists when they raped slaves?...
Likely it was more that they were opportunists. The low-risk availability of black women, slaves, in the South was the opportunity.

No doubt some were instigated by their own racism, thus could be called racist in contemporary profiling terms. And certainly all male rapists of women in any era are at a minimum sexist in contemporary profiling terms.

But I'm a little hesitant to be applying contemporary profiling terms to the Civil War. That seems to be more about wanting to seen as "with it" --embracing social awareness today -- than it does about being historically accurate. fyi, they don't actually award badges for being socially aware.
 
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MattL

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The ACW soldier - unlike soldiers generally in other wars - had the additional condition of permissions in the form that no black could testify against a white in court. Union soldiers operated in a South that itself practiced abuse of black women on an institutional scale -- meaning no captured Union soldier (or Confederate soldier in the ranks) need fear being tried for "merely" raping a black woman as long as the "property" was returned "in working condition." In addition, soldiers of both sides could count on the condition that black women were not protected by firearms. Blacks, including the husbands and siblings of black women, were not allowed to have firearms -- again unlike the case in other wars generally.
Great points. The entire system that allowed Southern Whites to mostly freely rape Southern Black women certainly worked as a mechanism to uniquely allow Northern White soldiers to do the same. Of course at some point back in the North who now held control of Congress, after the South left, there were the efforts that would eventually result in the 13th-15th amendments to free and expand the rights of African Americans. Not that I would suspect that would've been a large fear or deterrent to someone willing to rape another human being anyways.

Likely it was more that they were opportunists. The low-risk availability of black women, slaves, in the South was the opportunity.

No doubt some were instigated by their own racism, thus could be called racist in contemporary profiling terms. And certainly all male rapists of women in any era are at a minimum sexist in contemporary profiling terms.

But I'm a little hesitant to be applying contemporary profiling terms to the Civil War. That seems to be more about wanting to seen as "with it" --embracing social awareness today -- than it does about being historically accurate. fyi, they don't actually award badges for being socially aware.
I don't agree, at all. Our modern definitions for things like sexism or racism doesn't imply they didn't exist just because we didn't necessarily define it. It's not creating something that didn't exist then, it's recognizing and correctly labeling what existed at whatever time. For example many didn't call lynchings murder, especially those rallied around the site of the act cheering it on. We should definitely call it murder.

IMHO you should be less worried about how people will see or not see things, about social awareness or not, and more worried about accurate representation. I mean you are effectively arguing for complying with older historical definitions of terms than current, since you have to use some definitions. If you think a term is wrongly used in context make the argument for it, don't rely on fighting modern "social awareness"... Ironically that makes you the one obsessed about modern conformity.

As to whether the the terms racist or sexist make sense for this specific use. Well if it explains attitudes in this use then I'd argue it objectively makes perfect sense and in fact would require you to deliberately avoid the term. Honestly the majority of your statements and references of rape in the Civil War can be explained by both sexism and racism, including the combination thereof. In fact almost those two factors are what make the points you make unique compared to other examples it seems. Why avoid the obvious words that pretty much directly explain what you are illustrating.
 

Leftyhunter

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Basically the sa
The ACW soldier - unlike soldiers generally in other wars - had the additional condition of permissions in the form that no black could testify against a white in court. Union soldiers operated in a South that itself practiced abuse of black women on an institutional scale -- meaning no captured Union soldier (or Confederate soldier in the ranks) need fear being tried for "merely" raping a black woman as long as the "property" was returned "in working condition." In addition, soldiers of both sides could count on the condition that black women were not protected by firearms. Blacks, including the husbands and siblings of black women, were not allowed to have firearms -- again unlike the case in other wars generally.
Basically the same dynamic in Mexico, the Philippines, WWI ,WWII and Vietnam. Very few American soldiers get convicted for rape. Very few rapists maybe less then ten percent of rape victims today will see their rapist convicted and sent to prison. Yes rapists suck , yes raping woman of color was evil but in war rape happens.
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byron ed

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Basically the same dynamic in Mexico, the Philippines, WWI ,WWII and Vietnam. Very few American soldiers get convicted for rape. Very few rapists maybe less then ten percent of rape victims today will see their rapist convicted and sent to prison. Yes rapists suck , yes raping woman of color was evil but in war rape happens...
Yet let's not dilute the the immediacy of what happened in the Civil War by comparison to what happened in other major wars.
 

byron ed

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...I don't agree, at all. Our modern definitions for things like sexism or racism doesn't imply they didn't exist just because we didn't necessarily define it...
Which is why I never implied that sexism or racism didn't exist just because we didn't necessarily define it. Were in total agreement on that.

...the majority of your statements and references of rape in the Civil War can be explained by both sexism and racism...
Well no, as many could be attributed solely to opportunism.

...Why avoid the obvious words that pretty much directly explain what you are illustrating.
True, but not to exclude words like opportunism, which although not post-modern are more realistic.
 

byron ed

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...I don't agree, at all. Our modern definitions for things like sexism or racism doesn't imply they didn't exist just because we didn't necessarily define it...
Which is why I never implied that sexism or racism didn't exist just because we didn't necessarily define it. We're in total agreement on that.

...the majority of your statements and references of rape in the Civil War can be explained by both sexism and racism...
Well no, as many could be attributed solely to lust and opportunism.

...Why avoid the obvious words that pretty much directly explain what you are illustrating.
Why indeed. The problem comes when post-modern terms supplant perfectly good traditional terms for the same thing, but invoking a layer of pscho-babble and political correctness that are unnecessary. Example sometimes a leer is just a leer -- not an expression of suppressed maternal attachment ("sexism") or a deep insecurity about one's station in life ("racism"). Some rapes in Antebellum/Civil War era were just acts of opportunity -- and horrible enough for that alone.

I'm not comfortable layering post-modern terms onto discussions of historical settings, that's all. I'd like to say that's only me but it's a general trend among history writers. For the sake of honesty they avoid "putting on airs." There's no medals for being "socially-aware" or "politically-correct" or "academically current."
 
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MattL

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Which is why I never implied that sexism or racism didn't exist just because we didn't necessarily define it. We're in total agreement on that.



Well no, as many could be attributed solely to lust and opportunism.



Why indeed. The problem comes when post-modern terms supplant perfectly good traditional terms for the same thing, but invoking a layer of pscho-babble and political correctness that are unnecessary. Example sometimes a leer is just a leer -- not an expression of suppressed maternal attachment ("sexism") or a deep insecurity about one's station in life ("racism"). Some rapes in Antebellum/Civil War era were just acts of opportunity -- and horrible enough for that alone.

I'm not comfortable layering post-modern terms onto discussions of historical settings, that's all. I'd like to say that's only me but it's a general trend among history writers. For the sake of honesty they avoid "putting on airs." There's no medals for being "socially-aware" or "politically-correct" or "academically current."
My point is IMHO you are more worried about what is socially aware or politically correct than most people using these terms. The rest of us are just trying to apply the term that fits the best, nothing more or less, and don't give a damn about what people think either way.

If men treated women inferior to men in some factor then it's sexism. It's simple. Most men to women rape of the time was probably motivated by sexism, this includes when combined by opportunism. If a man didn't feel superior to the woman enough to defy her will (or care nothing for it) then whether the opportunity was there or not didn't matter.

Lots of people didn't rape those who they had the opportunity to do so, so what is the key difference between them? Likely in many cases I suggest sexism. The men who viewed women as equal or closer to equals were probably less likely to take advantage of that opportunity. Since sexism was so widespread we had widespread rape. To be clear I'm not saying it was the case in every single example of rape, neither am I saying it didn't combine with other factors.

I mean I don't think any of those views are post modern lol. People at those times, including men, did in fact view things like that as well. Not everyone of that time viewed women as unequal (even if it was most) which shows that it's not a new idea just a newly widespread idea. It's not a post modern idea, just a minority old idea.

Hell I'll back up my claim, my 2nd great granduncle Miles Ledford Langley argued for the equality of women in the 1868 Arkansas Constitutional Convention.


"""
Mr. LANGLEY (when his name was called) said : I want it understood that I am a Radical. I believe in universal freedom , impartial suffrage; and equal rights. I will vote for the Constitution as a whole, thinking it is a good thing, for the men that made it.

...

Mr. LANGLEY: ... Progress is an unchangeable law of nature. This is an age of improvement. Reform is the order of the day. We are passing through a crisis unparalleled in the history of the world . We have just struggled through a gigantic war, and are inaugurating a new era in the history of our national policy. We must reconstruct the government of our country on radical principles — universal freedom , impartial suffrage, and equal rights. We must be governed by natural justice . and scientific principles. Scientific truth must be our guide in ethics, in religion , in politics, in social life, and in legal matters. Shall woman , created the equal of man, be entitled to the same political and legal rights as man ? This is the question ; and it is destined to be the question of questions, the great question of the age, the question of the country for years to come.

I affirm that woman is by nature endowed with equal rights, social, political, and legal, with man.

The right of woman to the elective franchise, etc., is based on the principles of scientific truth .

I call special attention to this proposition : That woman does not differ from man in any particular that disqualifies her from rightly exercising the same political and legal rights that he does. (I call special attention , I say, to that proposition . I want men to meet me with argument, on this floor.)
Whether this proposition is true or false, depends, not on prejudice , not on ancient custom , not on modern usage, not on legislative enactment, but on scientific truth . This is a question of science, and can be rightly decided only by scientific knowledge. Anatomy, physiology, and phrenology demonstrate that woman possesses every natural qualification which entitles a man to political and legal rights.

"""

I mean his arguments and statements there were at least 70 or so years ahead of his time. His weren't the first on such either. So we should be careful to not delegate everything to "post modern" just because such an idea became predominant or mainstream in the alleged "post modern." Many people have fought with modern ideas of women equality for a very long time, they were just outnumbered, but we must recognize that those ideas are not new.
 

Leftyhunter

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Yet let's not dilute the the immediacy of what happened in the Civil War by comparison to what happened in other major wars.
Again wars happen and rape happens in every war. Why is the ACW unique in terms of US troops raping? In Iraq and Afghanistan there does appear to be less rape so that's progress. Possibly today's young men are less likely to rape the Grandpa in Vietnam or Great Grand pappy in WWII. On the other hand my son's room mate in the USMC after a class on sexual harassment raped a female Marine so stuff happens

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Leftyhunter

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If US troops mostly Southeners raped Mexican woman why wouldn't Northern troops rape as well ? Soldiers have always raped so not sure why our friend @byron ed thinks it's earth shattering that some boy in blue raped?
Is rape fair? No is it digusting yes but it's not uncommon or unusual.
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byron ed

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...The rest of us are just trying to apply the term that fits the best, nothing more or less...If men treated women inferior to men in some factor then it's sexism....Most men to women rape of the time was probably motivated by sexism...If a man didn't feel superior to the woman...If a man didn't feel superior to the woman enough to defy her will...we should be careful to not delegate everything to "post modern" just because such an idea became predominant or mainstream... [etc. etc. etc.]
Nice overview of contemporary social science, basic level 200 coursework colloquial.

The thing to be careful about is dereliction in calling-out post-century hindsights being applied to the study of Antebellum and Civil War history, for the very reason that it is hindsight. For the period we're discussing here, defining rape as "sexism" disrespects the actual victims for what they experienced "on-the-ground." As far as they were concerned they weren't raped by "sexism;" they were raped by a brutal attacker.

And whatever psychobabble we might today assign to it, that's all sheer speculation on our part.

What isn't speculation, what we know for sure, is that many rapes can be attributed to lust and opportunism --and never more so than in the condition of chattel slavery and in the associated condition of a Civil War conducted in Southern territory where legal permission to rape black women was implied.
 
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rittmeister

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Nice overview of contemporary social science, basic level 200 coursework colloquial.

The thing to be careful about is dereliction in calling-out post-century hindsights being applied to the study of Antebellum and Civil War history, for the very reason that it is hindsight. For the period we're discussing here, defining rape as "sexism" disrespects the actual victims for what they experienced "on-the-ground." As far as they were concerned they weren't raped by "sexism;" they were raped by a brutal attacker.

And whatever psychobabble we might today assign to it, that's all sheer speculation on our part.

What isn't speculation, what we know for sure, is that many rapes can be attributed to lust and opportunism --and never more so than in the condition of chattel slavery and in the associated condition of a Civil War conducted in Southern territory where legal permission to rape black women was implied.
if i follow your argumentation i need to call a gladiator in ancient rome a sportsman

as far as i'm concerned you're right when it comes to those morons who say 'if i had lived in 1933 i'd been in the widerstand' but in my book i'm fully entitled to call heinrich himmler a monster (in '33 not so much).
 

MattL

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Nice overview of contemporary social science, basic level 200 coursework colloquial.

The thing to be careful about is dereliction in calling-out post-century hindsights being applied to the study of Antebellum and Civil War history, for the very reason that it is hindsight. For the period we're discussing here, defining rape as "sexism" disrespects the actual victims for what they experienced "on-the-ground." As far as they were concerned they weren't raped by "sexism;" they were raped by a brutal attacker.

And whatever psychobabble we might today assign to it, that's all sheer speculation on our part.

What isn't speculation, what we know for sure, is that many rapes can be attributed to lust and opportunism --and never more so than in the condition of chattel slavery and in the associated condition of a Civil War conducted in Southern territory where legal permission to rape black women was implied.
All history is hindsight. It's implied.

I guess I should go back in time and tell my kin in 1865 he was being post modern in 2020.

Saying something isn't speculation and then speculating isn't very convincing. See you say:


"many rapes can be attributed to lust and opportunism"

and I say

"many rapes can be attributed to lust, opportunism and sexism"

The first two are as much speculation as the third. You can't set the rules then break the rules. I get it, it's easier to make up fake rules to disqualify my point than face it. Now that's pretty post modern, except I guess that's an old tactic too.

All hindsight history on the motivations is speculation, you are doing the same. I'm simply disagreeing with you. I believe sexism is a key component for the lusty men in opportunities to rape that did and the ones that didn't.
 

byron ed

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...Again wars happen and rape happens in every war. Why is the ACW unique in terms of US troops raping? In Iraq and Afghanistan...Grandpa in Vietnam or Great Grand pappy in WWII...in the USMC after a class on sexual harassment raped a female Marine so stuff happens...
Again, bringing up the general condition of war over entire human history and contemporary times, an attempt to merely serialize (ne excuse) what happened in the unique condition and experience of chattel slaves in the Antebellum and Civil War era. What was unique was the condition of chattel slavery in the U.S. South and the associated condition that most of the Civil War was conducted in Southern territory where legal permission to rape black women was implied.

You know, when we discuss treason here we don't go off citing every case of treason over the course of human history and all wars. This is a discussion on the unique circumstance of rape in the Antebellum and Civil War era, not a platform for expounding on what everybody already knows about rape in war generally (if you must distract the thread, at least tell us something new).
 

MattL

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Again, bringing up the general condition of war over entire human history and contemporary times, an attempt to merely serialize (ne excuse) what happened in the unique condition and experience of chattel slaves in the Antebellum and Civil War era. What was unique was the condition of chattel slavery in the U.S. South and the associated condition that most of the Civil War was conducted in Southern territory where legal permission to rape black women was implied.

You know, when we discuss treason here we don't go off citing every case of treason over the course of human history and all wars. This is a discussion on the unique circumstance of rape in the Antebellum and Civil War era, not a platform for expounding on what everybody already knows about rape in war generally (if you must distract the thread, at least tell us something new).
I disagree that Lefty was excusing the raping, you are reaching on that one. Though to answer his question and mirror your comments I believe the state of Slavery in the South and the standard of White Southern masters raping their southern slaves created a somewhat unique situation and that differs from those other historical situations. Not that those probably don't have unique attributes of their own of course.

I also agree it's a perfectly good topic to study and talk about.
 

rittmeister

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I guess I should go back in time and tell my kin in 1865 he was being post modern in 2020.
he'll probably shoot you for

a) not understanding the term​
b) considering it an insult anyway​

All hindsight history on the motivations is speculation, you are doing the same. I'm simply disagreeing with you. I believe sexism is a key component for the lusty men in opportunities to rape that did and the ones that didn't.
a woman's chances to beeing raped are widely diminished if the would-be perp considers her his equal and not some piece of fresh (or fine) meat
 
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