Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Aint I a Woman,” is an in depth, personal account of slave life and the cycle of self-discovery by which Truth acknowledges the ills and dynamics of race, class and gender have upon an African American woman living in America. She intersects axes of analysis and questions the dominant image of femininity which was limited to the most elite, white women in society at that time. Throughout the speech, Truth explains the heavy burdens black women slaves are forced to carry on a day to day basis.
The oppression she endures is conveyed to the reader through firsthand accounts given by Truth. The inhumane actions of the oppressors towards African American women reveals the cruelty many white males, predominately slaveholders in the 19th century possessed and how their unjust behavior contributed to Truth’s underlying motivation to escape the struggles of the south and seek liberty. In her speech, Truth addresses the concerns of women’s civil liberties and racial discrimination at a Women’s convention in 1851.
Truth’s reason behind the speech was to convey that women and blacks are equivalent to white men and that they do not deserve to be perceived to be inferior to their male counter-parts. She takes on an informal nature to appeal to public values in her anti-slavery listeners and uses appeals to maternal sentiment, allegorical questions, and references to the bible to assist her in establishing getting her motive across. Her listeners were prepared and geared up to talk about this subject matter, and were enthusiastic to hear from presenters and experts as well.
Nevertheless, in order to see a change made, hard work is required which often times does not exist without some form of sacrifice. Sojourner Truth illustrated the hardships she underwent through her shared story of strength and struggle in the center of deliberate impertinence, strenuous toil, inconsolable loss, and slavery. She draws her spectators of men and women in by reiterating the phrase, ‘Aint I a Woman” to bring attention to her feminine identity that often goes unseen and unacknowledged. Truth opens up about her grueling pain she endures by sharing the story of how she bore children whom she had a deep love for.
She forfeited her time, labor, and her own offspring as a consequence of her ethnicity. Truth conveys her motherly emotions by claiming, “I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? ” (Truth). This testimony unaccompanied permitted the greater part of the women at the convention to be able to emphasize with the emotions she must have experienced at the loss of her own children to the life of slavery.
Sojourner Truth use of logic she used through her speech was a way she was able to move her male listeners quite effectively to prove that despite common belief women, even African American women, were courageous, heroic, and praiseworthy of reverence and civil rights in America. She focuses on this point mainly through her response to the remark that women do not belong in society because Christ was male and not female. She affirmed, “Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! ” (Truth). Beyond doubt this rational and touching argument solved many of the addressees’ inquiry about women’s rights and their prerogative to value and pride within society. Through history, women have always struggled to gain respect, equality, and the same privileges as men. Women were forced to endure sexism in order to get to where we are currently at today.
The hardship was even more complicated for women of color because they were forced to deal with the issues of both sexism and racism. As a social advocate for overcoming inhume treatment, Sojourner Truth made a huge contribution to society by voicing the need for a change. Although Truth touched base on a broad range of issues within the boundaries of her short speech, the topic under argument remained alike, that is to say her zeal for the rights of African American women in America. Without a doubt, Sojourner Truth’s speech was successfully and sufficiently presented to her audience at the time, and continues to be so even today.
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