Ain't I a Woman Speech | Study Guide

Sojourner Truth

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Ain't I a Woman Speech | Quotes


Wall, chilern, whar dar is so much racket dar must be somethin' out o' kilter.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth begins her speech by acknowledging the disagreement over the equality of women. Men at the convention where she gave the speech argued that women were not men's equals and therefore were not deserving of the same rights as men. Truth states that the amount of conflict on the subject indicates something is amiss. She establishes herself as an authority, addressing the audience as children. Her manner of speaking, using dialect, sets her apart from her largely white listeners.


'Twixt de niggers of de Souf and de womin at de Norf, all talkin' 'bout rights, de white men will be in a fix.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth notes that both women, primarily in the Northern states, and black people, suffering under slavery mostly in the Southern states, are beginning to agitate for equal rights. White men find themselves pressured from both sides. The use of the term nigger by Truth reflects the language of the day rather than her belief in racism.


Dat man ... say dat womin needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and to hab de best place everywhar.

Sojourner Truth

Several male ministers spoke at the convention on women's rights, and Sojourner Truth paraphrases one of their claims that women are not equal to men because they are weaker than men. Here, she summarizes a minister's examples of female physical inferiority, repeating his examples of how women have to be treated preferentially because of their fragility. Her use of dialect emphasizes the absurdity of the male argument.


Nobody eber helps me into carriage, or ober mud-puddles, or gibs me any best place! And a'n't I a woman?

Sojourner Truth

Responding to a man's claim that women's special treatment on account of their physical weakness is evidence for their inferiority to men, Sojourner Truth claims she has never received such consideration. She is indisputably a woman despite the fact she has not been treated as the weaker sex.


Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And a'n't I a woman?

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth uses her body and experiences as a slave to counter the claim that women are physically inferior to men and do not deserve the same rights as men.


I have borne thirteen chilern, and seen 'em mos' all sold off to slavery, and ... none but Jesus heard me!

Sojourner Truth

Besides the physical strain of life as a slave, Sojourner Truth has also endured tremendous emotional pain. Far from delicate, Truth proves that women are survivors. Critics of Gage's speech have pointed out that Truth in actuality had only five children, one of whom was sold away, whom she subsequently reclaimed.


What's [intellect] got to do wid womin's rights or nigger's rights?

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth rejects the suggestion that the notion that women and blacks are mentally inferior to white men justifies denying them the same rights. Tying the causes of feminism and abolitionism, Truth claims intelligence has no bearing on equality of treatment. The use of the term nigger by Truth reflects the language of the day rather than her belief in racism.


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?

Sojourner Truth

Comparing intelligence to a container, Sojourner Truth concedes that even if women and black people have a smaller capacity, they deserve their portion and rights nonetheless. It would be selfish for white men, who claim to have a larger capacity, to refuse them.


He say women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wan't a woman! Whar did your Christ come from? ... God and a woman!

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth rejects the argument that the Bible proves women are inferior to men because it teaches that Christ was male. She points out that Christ was born of a woman and of God, not man, implying that far from teaching women are less than men, the Bible really proves that a woman was essential to salvation. Gage adds in her account, "Oh, what a rebuke that was to that little man," the minister who made the argument.


If de fust woman ... turn de world upside down ... dese women togedder ought to be able to turn it back, and ... de men better let 'em.

Sojourner Truth

A minister at the convention where Sojourner Truth gave her speech claims that the first woman created, Eve, brought sin into existence and therefore a woman was responsible for all that is wrong in the world. Truth cleverly parries this claim by pointing out that it assumes women have amazing power. If just one woman brought sin into the world, surely women working in cooperation have the ability to fix things. Men need simply to get out of their way.

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