This speech, by Sojourner Truth, was delivered at the Akron convention was not officially recorded; it survives because it was written down by Frances Gage –
“A’int 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 them 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?
Then they talk about this thing in the head’; what’s this they call it? [Intellect, someone whispers.] That’s it honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negro’s rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and your holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half-measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! 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! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them!”
Sojourner Truth saw how religion and patriarchy fit together, one reinforcing the other. Her reference to the ‘man in black’ demonstrates her keen intellect as she was aware of the part played by organized religion in maintaining the oppressive state of affairs – she addressed the problem of religious interpretation directly in this quote focusing on the power of the female role in the biblical story.
Funny how big an issue translating the bible into common languages has been throughout history, almost like those who did the interpreting had something to lose (or something to hide) in the process. But that is the cynic speaking, I’m sure that the religious authorities had nothing to gain by keeping the masses ignorant and dependent on their self-serving interpretation of the bible…