Sojourner Truth: Everyone Deserves to be Equal

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Sojourner Truth, an African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, presented her speech “Ain’t I a Women” to address gender inequality that she and other women faced in society. She was born into slavery during the late 1700’s and delivered her speech in 1851 at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. In her speech, she first addressed the gender inequality when she began to compare her strengths and talents to that of man’s emphasizing that they are equivalent to man’s. She also mentions the intellectual inequality by asking if a man could have a quart and women had a pint, why can’t that pint remain full?

Using rhetoric, she questions the audience if men give women too much, then women could take away something from them. She counters this question by inferring that more educational opportunity will not take away or lessen the rights men have. Truth states she cannot read but she can hear the bible.Truth references the old testament in the bible which states Eve caused Adam to sin, so why can’t women try to make things right again? Another biblical reference she uses is, man was created through God and Women, so men do not have a part.

Truth ends with a metaphor stating a man is in between a hawk and a buzzard which infers men will be forced into giving women their own rights. Within Truth’s speech, she supports her argument of women’s rights with racial analogies, biblical references and personal experiences. Truth uses an emotional callout to provoke the social injustices that have occurred in her life and her desire for change.

Truth immediately states the binary of male versus women in the second sentence as she states “i am a women’s rights [sic]” (Truth P.75). Through the 18th and 19th century, women had a hard time gaining the same rights as men. A women’s role was to raise the kids, provide education, and take care of the house and the family. Men were in charge of supporting for the family financially; whereas, women working in the public, or participating in political or economic issues, would be seen as radical.

Truth not only discussed her hardships as a woman but, she details her speech in a way that describes her life as an African American. At the time, many African Americans just like Truth, were born into slavery. As for black women, they were sold and raped by men who legally owned them. White men were viewed as the ones with power in political and economic decisions, which left no input for women and African Americans. Women’s rights remains a controversial issue due to lack of empowerment, stereotypes, and social issues caused by gender equality. Women deserve to be heard and have equal rights as men.

Truth uses her voice in a time where it was not safe to speak out but important for others to understand her victimization as a woman. The author utilizes personal experiences, biblical allusions, and racial analogies to support her stance on women’s rights. She first claims her strengths make her just as capable of handling tasks that men do such as “plow[ing] and reap[ing] and husk[ing] and chop[ing] and mow[ing]”(Truth p. 75). Her rhetoric emphasizes the masculinity that she carries just as men do. Also, “plow[ing] and reap[ing]” are direct references to what black slaves did as they worked in the fields of white employers. As far as intellectuality, Truth compares women to having a pint and a men to having a quart.

Truth’s rhetoric questions, if men can have a quart and women have a pint, what is so bad about having that pint full? She infers with that pint being full, nothing can be taken away from men’s quart. This analogy represents how women were seen as intellectually inferior to men, and the refusal of men to give more opportunities to women in education. During this time, most white women were able to read yet Truth emphasizes the tension of black versus white while discussing that “she cannot read but she can hear.” (Truth p. 75)

In the 1700’s, African Americans were not given the opportunity to attend school; therefore, white’s were always superior to them regarding education. Since most African Americans did not receive education, they would learn about the teachings of the bible by listening to preachers and people around them. Truth herself, learned about the bible by listening and uses biblical allusions to support her idea of women versus men. Her first reference was “eve caused man to sin”, so Truth asks her audience why women cannot have the opportunity to make this up in the world? Truth feels that women can change things to be “right side again” if given the opportunity (Truth P.75).

Her argument is elaborated as she points the birth of Jesus was “through God who created him and the woman who bore him”(Truth P.75). Men use Christ to resemble themselves; however, their part in Christ’s birth is not included. She ends her speech by using a metaphor that men are “caught between a poor slave and women are coming on him” inferring that women are slowly making a difference and “a few of the men are coming up with them”. When she includes men in the last couple lines, she means African Americans who are also speaking out against abolition. Truth reminds her audience that through time white men will be forced to give women and the black community equal privileges. Truth’s use of parallelism to man and woman improves her argument by enforcing that women can take part in the same things men do.

Women still face oppression in modern society due to previous tensions of history. During the mid 1800’s and the 1900’s, women were most active in women’s suffrage, education equality, and voting rights. Today, women mainly protest for equal pay, their right to choose what happens with their own bodies, and leadership roles in high professions. Generalizations and stereotypes have evolved regarding women and their role in American society. Women are viewed as caretakers and associated with nurturing and childcare instead of being affiliated with a high powered officer in a company or organization. Men are known to work in economically valuable jobs; therefore, when women are put into these positions, it results in a wage gap.

Another issue refers to the influence of men and their supremacy of specific women’s rights. The choice of abortion, equal wages, and child care all remain in the hands of mostly white men which is problematic. Because of Americans treating women so poorly in the past, it clouded societies perspective of women for years to come. The inequality women receive becomes a domino effect. If women are defined as inferior in society, then they can’t obtain a prominent position in the economic or political field. If women aren’t given the opportunity to be in a prominent economic or political role, then they have a limited say in societal issues that directly involve them. For women’s voices to be heard, women must have more opportunity to be in leadership roles.

Furthermore, women deserve equal pay, opportunity in prominent jobs, and the ability to decide what they feel is best for their body. Stanton claims in Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, when men or the political system do not match the idea of women’s rights, then men have “deprived [women] of th[e] first right as a citizen” (Stanton 466). The male versus female binary needs to be ended in order to live by the nation’s own constitution. Equalization will enhance productivity and the development of future generations. It should be made possible if everyone obtains a significant role in society to further resolve societal issues regarding women.

Gender inequality should not be a problem in today’s world; however, early America created the separation and discrimination of male versus female with labels and generalizations. Sojourner Truth reveals men set apart women through the differences in strength, level of intellectuality, and misinterpreting the Bible. Additionally, the author intrigues her audience with her rhetoric of “Ain’t I a Woman” empowering the crowd and their right to equality. Even though her speech is given at the women’s right convention of Ohio, she details her mistreatment as a black woman to enhance her argument.

The inequality found during the author’s time period is still present today. Women’s pay, their right to their own decisions regarding their body and their role in society are challenges that s555till need to be resolved to obtain a more equal world. Women’s rights are human’s rights and it’s necessary to allow women’s voices to be heard. To change this, people need to give more opportunities to demonstrate they can be just as successful as a man. Society must teach younger generations the importance of equality to change the future of tomorrow.

Cite this paper

Sojourner Truth: Everyone Deserves to be Equal. (2021, Dec 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/sojourner-truth-everyone-deserves-to-be-equal/

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