Rethinking Rufus

Sexual Violations of Enslaved Men

Title Details

Pages: 192

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 05/01/2019

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5522-1

List Price: $22.95


Pub Date: 05/01/2019

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5521-4

List Price: $99.95


Pub Date: 05/01/2019

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5520-7

List Price: $22.95

Rethinking Rufus

Sexual Violations of Enslaved Men

A history of the sexual assault and exploitation of enslaved men in America

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Rethinking Rufus is the first book-length study of sexual violence against enslaved men. Scholars have extensively documented the widespread sexual exploitation and abuse suffered by enslaved women, with comparatively little attention paid to the stories of men. However, a careful reading of extant sources reveals that sexual assault of enslaved men also occurred systematically and in a wide variety of forms, including physical assault, sexual coercion, and other intimate violations.

To tell the story of men such as Rufus-who was coerced into a sexual union with an enslaved woman, Rose, whose resistance of this union is widely celebrated-historian Thomas A. Foster interrogates a range of sources on slavery: early American newspapers, court records, enslavers' journals, abolitionist literature, the testimony of formerly enslaved people collected in autobiographies and in interviews, and various forms of artistic representation. Foster's sustained examination of how black men were sexually violated by both white men and white women makes an important contribution to our understanding of masculinity, sexuality, the lived experience of enslaved men, and the general power dynamics fostered by the institution of slavery. Rethinking Rufus illuminates how the conditions of slavery gave rise to a variety of forms of sexual assault and exploitation that affected all members of the community.

Foster's work is a monumental contribution to history, Africana studies, gender studies, and black male studies that forces us to ask not how but why generations of scholars did not account for, or theorize, the evidence of black male sexual victimization across the centuries despite many being well known.

—Tommy J. Curry, author of The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood

Rethinking Rufus is a game-changer. Thomas A. Foster takes an oft-cited historical source and helps us see it, and the history of gender and sexuality in slavery, with new eyes. Foster's sensitive and inventive interpretations of the history of the sexual abuse of enslaved men provides new ways to investigate and understand these difficult and important histories.

—Leslie M. Harris, coeditor of Sexality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas

About the Author/Editor

THOMAS A. FOSTER is an associate dean for faculty affairs and a history professor at Howard University. He is the author of Sex and the Eighteenth-Century Man: Massachusetts and the History of Sexuality in America and Sex and the Founding Fathers: The American Quest for a Relatable Past.