Should women and men be equal to their status, opportunities and rights? They should. Nowadays women already possess many rights they haven’t had in the 19th century. Back to that time, women were treated as less than citizens; the cult of domesticity and the legal principle of coverture oppressed women. In fact, the 19th century was a time of great change in the United States as reflected by the Second Great Awakening, the abolition movement, and the women’s rights movement. Many women activists participated in those movements. For example, one of them, abolitionist Sojourner Truth delivered to public her unique and eloquent speech “I Am as Strong as Any Man” in 1851 in Akron, Ohio.
Even though back to that time it was assumed that women as a gender are not able to have an independent opinion and openly speak to public, Truth had the courage to make her powerful argument to the audience fighting for black women’s rights and claiming that men and women should have the same rights. First. With regard to the main point of her speech, Truth made her argument for woman’s rights “on the basis of her own experience of black womanhood” (DuBois and Dumenil 277).
It is important to point out that Truth did not focus on being a slave in the past or the impact of slavery on the loss of her children. “She is foremost a ‘woman’s rights'” (qtd. in DuBois and Dumenil).
For obvious reasons it is essential to notice the fact that Truth was a woman among women struggling for equality, but also she was an African American woman fighting against racial discrimination (being doubly oppressed). Therefore, although Truth’s speech was given to advocate for equal rights of all women regardless of skin color, she intended to support black women, who were in a much more deprived position at that time. Second. Following the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls that declared that “all men and women are created equal,” Truth argued that women and men were equal in every way.
Comparing herself to a man, Truth insisted that women can physically do the work of men: “I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal… I am as strong as any man that is now…” (qtd. in DuBois and Dumenil). So, while talking about her own experiences in life, Truth aimed to show that most of women in the country were in her position, thus trying to prove women’s equality to men. Third. Truth claimed that men were not superior to women.
To say more accurately, her point was that women were not inferior to men, and they should have been given “a chance to set it the world right side up…”(qtd. in DuBois and Dumenil). To support that, she pointed out that Christ was born from God and a God woman: “And how came Jesus into the world?.
..Man, where was your part?” The speech Truth delivered to the general public in Akron was motivational and intended to persuade that women regardless of skin color should have had the same rights as men did. The women’s rights movement had a great success overall, caused a lot of change in the United States, simply shifting the way people viewed women.
As further history shows, those events were just the beginning. To conclude, Truth’s speech would be applicable even today because even today, in our modern democratic societies, gender egalitarianism is still tentative.