Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ain't I A Woman?

Well, actually, no I am not a woman. I was not so blessed as to have been given the gift of life. Though, after seeing friends and family go through the birthing process, I would be lying if I said I am jealous of the actual birthing process. Giving life is a miracle...shooting a football out of a hole the size of a lemon makes me think waterboarding would be a more enjoyable alternative.

Today, the U.S. Congress unveiled the first statue of a black woman in the nationa's capitol. And, fittingly, it was Sojourner Truth. On the dais today were Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader John Boehner with First Lady Michelle Obama making the dedication and Cicily Tyson acting out the speech Ain't I a Woman.

Unfortunately, fucking C-SPAN left the program just before the First Lady spoke. Idiots. But, they did show Miss Cicily give the performance of a lifetime. I was on this crazy machine at the gym that combines an eliptical machine, stair climber, nordictrack, and mideval torture device, and I had the broadest grin on my face listening to Cicily. She brought the speech to life. She made Sojourner live again, and each time she said, Ain't I a woman, I tucked my penis back and said, YES I AM!

Somehow I made it to 31 _ years of age without every having heard or read the full text of that speech. It, along with Martin Luther King's “I've Been to the Mountain Top,” is now my favorite speech of all time. The entire speech is roughly four or five paragraphs long (I am going to include it at the end of this blog). But in five paragraphs Sojourner Truth laid out the best, most succinct, and clear articulation of actualized feminism that I have ever seen. I understand the value of academia and theory. I often lapse into academy speech. But this brief oration reminded me that some people earn (or should earn) their doctorates in exactly 354 words.

Sojourner Truth was a powerful woman. She was a radical. She was a mother of abolitionist, civil rights, and feminist movements. The honor she received today was overdue and well deserved. Thank you Sojourner. You were one hell of a woman.

(P.S. And what a hell of a present to Miss Truth that Arlen Specter announced he is going Blue Dog on us and giving the Democrats a filibuster proof majority in the U.S. Senate. Word).

Text of “Ain't I a Woman” delivered in Akron, OH at the Women's Convention in 1851.

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

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?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours 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. (emphasis added)

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.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.


  1. OMG, SJ kicks major ass here. I've heard *of* this speech, but until now, I haven't "heard" it. That's one of the best takedowns of clueless asshole male chauvinism I've ever heard. Yay.

  2. Right? You have to go to C-SPAN and check out Cicely Tyson's performance. It may be up on YouTube at this point, but if not, check out the SJ dedication. The entire video is about 45 minutes long, but the part with Cicely starts around 33 minutes. It will blow your mind. I hadn't 'heard' it either. And WOOOOWEEE!


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