Feminism VS. Chivalry and Abolitionism VS. Gender

Table of Content

“The traditional image of women emphasized her obedience to patriarchal authority” however, women like Sojourner Truth eased this stereotype callously, but effectively (Women in America, 1776-1918). Sojourner Truth was enslaved in her younger life, and once she was freed, she became active in religion. Her abolitionism and activist persona differed from other women in the Women’s and Abolitionist Movements because she was African American and was “not formally educated” (Lebedun 360). Truth spoke amongst crowds that reached every class system, all the way to President Lincoln on October 29, 1864. Her lack of education inevitably gave her a “dialect” which allowed her to defy social boundaries and successfully make a change by fighting for the equal rights of women in general, but notably women of color (Patten 3). Sojourner Truth’s accomplishments in the Women’s Rights Movement and Anti-slavery Movements were immensely motivated by religious guidings and her passion due to the adversity of dual oppression because she experienced additional hardship on account of race and gender.

Sojourner Truth’s passion for equality was fought with perseverance and determination because she was enslaved at a young age; therefore, she recognized that equality was lacking from not only African Americans but women too. She felt as if it was her calling to tell the ‘truth’ of discrimination. Sojourner Truth delivers her most famous speech, “A’t I a woman” at the Women’s Rights Convention in Ohio, 1852. In her speech, she tried to convey her message to “persuade the audience to support women’s rights” (Lebedun 361). Truth said, “If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yourn holds a quart, wouldn’t ye be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full” as a metaphor to further expose the misogynistic actions that excluded women and African Americans from any type of right of justification. Sojourner articulated her abolitionism and feminism when she reacted to Andrew Johnson “welcom[ing]ed the readmission of Confederates states to the union and…they passed laws restricting the rights of African-Americans” (Adams 12). This reinforces her feminism because it further depicts the male-dominated community which compels women to be exteriorized. Her reaction, additionally, exemplified her intentions of abolitionism, even though it was abolished. Although slavery was technically abolished, it was only abolished for African American men, and not the women. Sojourner Truth highlighted the isolation and spoke up about what is right. Other abolitionists fought for a 14th Amendment, granting the right for black men to vote. Truth responded to the Amendment by saying, “there is a great stir about coloured men getting their rights, but not a word about the coloured women” to emphasize the inequalities of women “before the political climate changed” (Adams 13). She believed that “if coloured men get their rights, and not coloured women theirs, you will see the coloured man will be masters over the women” which represents the hierarchy system set in place to demean all women (Adams 13). Men held the power over women to demoralize them and continue to be the “master” of them.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

The suffragettes Sojourner Truth encountered, specifically the battle of oppression and sexism, fueled her passion to speak up and make a change for African American women, and women in general. Her personal experiences are what inspired her to create change in the male-dominated country. Truth responds to a man in the crowd at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio and says, “Dat man in October dar say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar. Nobody eber helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place. And a’n’t I a woman.” This exposes the thought of chivalry being courteous when in reality it is inferiority in disguise. It displays a picture as a woman being incapable of getting “into carriages.” Sojourner defies this oppression by her most famous phrase, “A’n’t I a woman?” She was reacting to a man in the crowd at the convention trying to persuade her on the justification of women not having rights because women have men to help them. While this may be true for some white women, Truth recognized that she was not being “helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhar” because she faced disdain wherever she went. Men made women feel inferior while they thought they were treating women has delicate, such as an ornament (Kerber-Palma). Even though men might have felt as if though they were treating women with such compassionate acts, in reality, it sets a path set up or objectification. Sojourner wanted to make it known that it was not African American women that were receiving these acts of kindness, and that it was unfair and unjustified how they were being prejudiced against because of their color and gender. Sojourner Truth’s appearance was “a tall woman-fully six feet-” which often left people criticizing her (Lebedun 360). Her “tall figure and deep voice” allowed herself to gain the attention of everyone (Patten 3). This “tall figure and deep voice” could have been interpreted as intimidating, forcing people in the crowds that were from all different economic and political backgrounds to listen to her. Sojourner Truth gives the audience a visual representation of her capabilities, “Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me!… I could work as much and eat as much as a man” which illustrates the things she went through as a slave, but also the fact that she is equally as strong as a man, if not stronger. Her “appearances put her personal safety at considerable risk” because she was often harassed by people in the crowds or newspapers (Patten 4). During a meeting a “clergyman denounced her as an imposter, claiming that such a forceful speaker must be a man. Sojourner Truth insisted that the challenge shamed only her enemies, and she bared her chest to the audience, proving her womanhood” to literally demonstrate that she is a woman (Lebedun 360). Although “bar[ing]ed” of her chest is often “denounced” in today’s society, this further exposes Truth’s passion and covet for equality. The action she did, stood up for women, granting them to a route that could further push them closer to equality. She mentions it “only shame[s]ed only her enemies” to expose the men, and the hurtful words they say to women because they have authority over women, because the granted it themselves by manipulation and being commanding. Sojourner’s “deep voice” and “dialect” are what “determined her uniqueness” (Pattern 2). Her “dialect” influenced many people “appeal[ing]s not only captivated intellectual, upper-class audiences at urban conventions, but also disseminated the movements’ messages to the common people who frequented her informal addresses in local venues across the land” (Pattern 2). This “appeal” due to her “dialect” allowed the people to become sympathetic and see first hand how bad oppression truly is (Pattern 2). Her lack of education allowed her speeches to be more special because they were from her heart and personal experiences because she never had the opportunity to learn how to write them down and fix mistakes. Her speeches represented transcendence in comparison to superficiality because they were spoken from more personal stories and fuel.

Sojourner Truth found faith after she was freed from slavery. This devotion is what highly influenced her to help those who suffer from dual oppression, such as herself. Sojourner Truth’s original name was Isabella but changed it to Sojourner Truth; Sojourner “as a symbol of her purpose” and Truth which “the Lord gave [her] me… because [she] I was to declare the Truth’ (Pattern 2). She allowed religion to guide her towards change and with that change, came truth. Truth’s mother, who was also a slave, greatly impacted her, steering Sojourner in the direction of God. Truth became involved in a Methodist and African Zionist churches. Her main goal was to help “the city’s impoverished” (Pattern 2). Her church background is what gave her so much poise and grace to speak amongst crowds. The churches “ provided [her] with her initial training as a public speaker, witnessing for temperance and singing hymns on street corners and at camp meetings” (Pattern 2). Sallie Holley, another abolitionist describes Sojourner’s lack of education with, ‘ [she]shows what a great intellect slavery has crushed” which confirms that with the revoking of education to slaves, it allowed a mass number of them to not have a chance at being able to have the ability to prove their intelligence (Mabee 56). This newfound life that she was able to live through her freedom of slavery was nice, but she was still a slave in society because she was penalized for being a woman; however, she allowed religion to be her guiding hand through her abolitionism and women’s activist journey. Sojourner dealt with many people using the bible as a reference for sexism. Sojourner addressed a man in the crowd from the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio and said, “Den dat little man in black dar, he says women can’t have as much rights as man, ’cause Christ wan’t a woman. Whar did your Christ come from? Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin’ to do wid Him.” Sojourner Truth points out the facts that without a woman, Christ would not have been born, therefore the argument that just because “Christ wan’t a woman” has no purpose (Women ‘s Convention in Akron, Ohio speech). She says, “Whar did your Christ come from?” as repetition to emphasize that she was confused about how this argument could come up because logically it is incorrect. The “little man in black” and Sojourner had read the same Bible, so how could they be interpreting in polar opposite directions? The reason is simple: male dominance in the bible was prevalent, therefore men felt as if though they needed to relate to that hierarchy system; however, it never stated that men were better than women because God’s gender was a male.

In conclusion, our generation of men will always feel superior to women because that’s the way they grew up. It’s saddening to think that one person feels inferior due to their race and or gender. Many women in today’s time speak up amongst this pedestal men put themselves on and try and deteriorate the domination such as Hilary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, Kristin Gillibrand, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Joan Baez, and Gloria Steinham. With these women publicly speaking up about the lack of equality along with the start from Sojourner Truth, the world can possibly become equal to all people.

Cite this page

Feminism VS. Chivalry and Abolitionism VS. Gender. (2022, Feb 14). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront