Is there power in the words never said or spoken? Many would argue these are the most important and yet it seems they are constantly overlooked.
In reading Jacob’s story, it was interesting how often she was unable to speak directly of her abuse. Sure she was able to allude and dance around the topic, but she was never able to put what happened in direct words. Many can say that it was an aspect of the times and a more strict culture, but is that really the case? Can we really blame how society was for this silence? In looking at today’s culture and working with those that have felt this abuse, the answer would appear to be no.
Though we live in a culture that exploits and flaunts sexuality, when it comes to those that have been victimized and terrorized, the victims are unable to voice their abuse. Whether it be because of shame or because they feel no one would believe them, fear seals their lips and they are stuck reliving that horror alone. It is because of this reason that I believe Jacobs story resonates more with many readers. Having been a victim of sexual abuse myself, it was astounding how similar my feelings were similar to Jacobs. For years it was hard to put the abuse into words, let alone speak them aloud. Though we lived over a hundred years apart, I felt linked to a women that understood what I had been through. It also helped give further evidence that even now, the power of personal autonomy, is one of the most important aspect of freedom to fight for and yet it seemed to have been overlooked in Douglass. Could this have simply been because Douglass was a man? I do believe that this is one major factor into this oversight, as Douglass did not live in the same fear as Jacobs. Though he feared physical pain and death, he never seemed to have feared losing the control of his own body. Part of this may have been because Douglass had the physical strength to defend himself and another was simply how different men and women were treated and in some ways, still are treated in society. Though there have been many advances in the rights not just for slaves, but for women in particular, women are still fighting for the simple right over their own bodies. Though it may be translated in different policies women are still not given complete control over their own bodies and the legal system, especially in the cases involving rape or sexual abuse show that women are still facing inequality. Jacobs account seemed to show that even though it occurred over 100 years ago, many are still facing very similar problems today.
When one is afraid of personal and physical violation, can one really say they are free? When someone even fears voicing their pain, can they really say they are free? And when someone’s pain can be reflected in someone that lived over 100 years ago, can society really say that change has occurred?