Buck Breaking: The Use of Sexual Violence Against Enslaved Men as Punishment for Wrongdoing
We’ve all watched movies, seen pictures, and heard stories of how terribly slaves were treated. But, the story of how sexual violence was weaponized and used by slaveowners against slaves is often forgotten. Yet, slaves — including men — were often sexually violated to keep them in line or as punishment against those that dared to rebel.
What is buck breaking?
Mainly utilized by slave owners in the Caribbean, buck breaking was used against male slaves who were seen as defiant. The process involved the slaveowner forcing the enslaved man to lower his pants and bend over a tree stump to ensure that his buttocks were propped up into the air. The enslaved man would then be flogged severely. This would weaken him so that he would not be able to resist the rape that followed. The white slaveowner would then proceed to rape the slave several times.
This form of punishment was worsened by the fact that it would be done in full view of all the other enslaved people, including the slaves’ family and friends. In an addition to being sexually violated the slave would also be publicly humiliated. This public punishment would instill fear in other slaves and thus prevent any further rebellion.
Enslaved men who were victims of this vile punishment often ran away from the plantations or killed themselves as they were unable to deal with the humiliation that they had suffered. It was often too difficult for them to integrate back into a society that had watched them being emasculated in front of their wife, children, and friends.
Buck breaking as a form of punishment grew amongst slave owners in the Caribbean. White men were able to travel from plantation to plantation raping male slaves. The punishment became so widely implemented that sex farms developed from the practice. These sex farms allowed multiple slaveowners to gang-rape male slaves as punishment for any supposed wrongdoing that they committed.
The massive popularity of the practice suggests that buck breaking may have been utilized as an…