Analysis Essay

Women's rights

About the Speech

Author: Sojourner Truth

Title: "A Speech to the American Equal Rights Association"

Date: May 9, 1867

Location: New York City

Details: Sojourner Truth is speaking during a time of slave emancipation, and she fears for African American women across the nation and states that they deserve just as much freedom as the men receive.

Main Idea: "There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored women; and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before."

  • Sexual & Racial Equality
  • Advocating for the specific right of women owning their own money and being able vote
  • "Independence" for women
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"I feel that if I have to answer for the deeds done in my body just as much as a man, I have a right to have just as much as a man."

  • This quote from the speech uses the rhetorical device of mesodiplosis, emphasizing the word "as much as a man" and parallel structure to increase the emphasis. Truth uses this to point out a double standard society has when it comes to women by stating that she should have just as much rights as a man since she is just as responsible for her actions as a man is. It is a key point within her argument and one that addresses the common hypocrisy when it comes to gender roles and expectations within society.

Figurative Language

"You have been having our rights so long, that you think, like a slave-holder, that you own us. I know that it is hard for one who has held the reins for so long to give up; it cuts like a knife"

  • Truth uses a powerful simile and compares the relationship of men and women to slave and slave master. It paints a vivid picture of the mentality of many men during this time, who may have been abusive and demanding to women. But ultimately, it shows that men believed women were a far more inferior gender; Truth however, instead of back-lashing and shaming men, finds a median and shows sympathy to them because she can understand the difficulty of having to let go of power.

Author's Purpose

"There ought to be equal rights now more than ever, since colored people have got their freedom."

Truth's purpose is revealed in this sentence. She is asking for equal rights for all genders and race, and claims that there is no better time for it than now because slaves have just been freed and offered their rights. Truth makes a plea to the audience that these rights should go for African American women as well.

Relations to Today

For the past few years in the United States, law enforcement and our judicial system have been under scrutiny due to the large amount of police killings of unarmed Americans, predominantly minorities. Because of this injustice, organizations like Black Lives Matter have sprung up in order to raise awareness and protest against these unlawful murders. Similarly to Truth's writings, minorities are asking for equality, however this time it is within the justice system since many officers are not being charged or disciplined for their actions. Furthermore, this situation also represents a power struggle between minorities and the government.
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