“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! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” -Sojourner Truth-
If my mind serves me correctly, I performed Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” in 7th grade. Yep, as one of the only African American students at a predominantly White school I performed Sojourner Truth and Phyllis Wheatley. I’ll save those stories for another time.
I am amazed by Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech. Miss Sojourner delivered this speech at a Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851. Truth was born into slavery, but escaped to become free in 1826. She was also the first Black woman to win a case against a white man.
In “Ain’t I a Woman” Truth says the following:
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? 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?”
Some say that chivalry is dead. I don’t believe that chivalry is dead, but I do believe that some men choose the women who deserve to be treated like a woman. If Halle Berry were to casually walk down any street in America, that just happened to have a few men around, I’m sure she wouldn’t have to worry about opening any doors, lifting any heavy packages, etc. Why? Because Miss Berry is gorgeous, glamorous, and feminine. She has an amazing figure and just happens to be a super star. But what about the other women? The women who may not have Hollywood “beauty”, but a heart of gold. The women who work extreme jobs that leave their face wrinkled, hands tough, and hair gray, but they still represent femininity at its best. Are those women not worthy of being treated like a woman? Has our society equated being a woman with looks?
As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, let us capture the essence of what Sojourner Truth’s words. ALL women, regardless of race, religion, class, etc., should be treated like a woman. Period.