The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 623
cerations because society could not accept women in these roles. Her focus is on
incarcerated women within western state penitentiaries between 1865 and 1915.
Butler studied prison records throughout the western states including Texas.
She discovered the difficulties women faced when charged and later convicted of
crimes and their lives within the penitentiary system. Women who committed
violent crimes essentially became nonhumans. "Respectable" society did not
understand or accept women criminals. As a result, women received little assis-
tance during their trials, and judges and juries reflected these sentiments by
handing down harsher sentences. Butler argues that race and class accentuated
the situation. Women with little financial means and minority women, in particu-
lar AfricanAmerican women, received the worst treatment by the judicial system.
Inside the prison walls, the degradation continued. Considered social outcasts
by society, women entered prison with little assurance of protection from the
cruelties within. Instead women prisoners discovered a world in which they were
subject to further abuse and violence. Women's prisons did not exist during this
time period. Instead states housed women in the same penitentiaries as men.
Although segregated, the women described their living conditions as deplorable.
Race compounded the situation. In Texas, prison officials separated and
bestowed more benefits on Spanish-speaking and Anglo women than African
American women (p. 94).
Adequate health care for women did not exist. Inmates who entered prison
pregnant or became pregnant in prison found themselves without proper med-
ical supervision. Annie "Cora" Morgan, a former African American inmate, testi-
fied before a committee that investigated conditions within the Texas prison sys-
tem. She described unfair treatment and inadequate health care for African
Americans, especially women. Morgan relayed the story of a woman prisoner
who gave birth to a child under a Magnolia tree because prison guards ignored
her request for medical treatment (pp. 165-166).
Gender also impacted prisoner's work assignments. Women did not have
access to the same vocational training that their male counterparts did. As a
result, Butler states their work opportunities fell into two categories: domestic or
sexual service. Women who engaged in sexual activities used these situations to
their advantage to receive privileges and protection denied to most women
Gendered Justice is a pleasurable read and an important book that reveals the
impact of gendered justice in the American West.
Brazosport College, Lake Jackson Sandra D. Harvey
Taking off the White Gloves: Southern Women and Women Hzstorzans. Edited by
Michele Gillespie and Catherine Clinton. (Columbia: University of Missouri
Press, 1998. Pp. xi+187. Introduction, contributors, index. 1SBN 0-8262-
1209-3. $27.50, cloth.)
Organizations like to celebrate anniversaries. Taking off the White Gloves is the
Southern Association of Women Historians' tribute to its thirtieth birthday.
Here’s what’s next.
Show all pages in this issue.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/701/ocr/: accessed October 24, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.