Sojourner Truth: “Ain’t I a Woman?”

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was a former slave who gained her freedom at the age of 30, after which she became a renowned anti-slavery speaker. In 1851, she attended the Ohio Women's Rights Convention, where many participants criticized her presence, fearing that she would link the feminist cause to the unpopular abolitionist cause. In her iconic speech, translated to Persian by Tavaana, she drew attention to the disparity between the respectful treatment accorded to white women and the brutality inflicted upon her, highlighting the exclusion of black women's needs from the feminist movement. As she said, "Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman?" Challenging sexist conceptions of what it was to be a woman - frail and delicate - which were in turn used as arguments for women's disempowerment, Truth described the hard labor and physical abuse she had survived, asking again, "Ain't I a woman?" Her speech would go on to become a cornerstone of intersectional feminism, which holds that women experience sexism differently based on their race, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, and other facets of identity, and that feminism must take all of these factors into account in order to be a truly representative and inclusive movement for social justice.

Tavaana Publication   Click here to read Tavaana's exclusive translation of Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" speech.

 

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