The American Antebellum Reform Essay Example
The American Antebellum Reform Essay Example

The American Antebellum Reform Essay Example

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  • Pages: 3 (784 words)
  • Published: June 9, 2022
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During the nineteenth century a movement of reform started due to social injustices. Decades before the Civil War, reform movements inspired and moved the nation to change social, political, and economic conditions. Reforms focused on abolition, schools and prison, and the start of women’s rights. Reformers exposed injustices with articles, books, and speeches. In fact, one speech was so powerful that it had to be experienced because it was not written down until 12 years later. Sojourner Truth’s speech “Ain’t I a Woman” was not planned, she just wanted to say a few words, those few words turned into a monumental moment in women’s rights history. Although the speech does bring up some controversy, it reflects the American antebellum reform through strong and truthful tones. “Ain’t I a Woman


” touches on the power of women, the equality, and the strength women have.

Women being fragile is used against them only when it benefits the man to look stronger. Although women are built differently than men this does not mean women are weak. Truth focused on this during her speech when she spoke out against the misconceptions of women being fragile. “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?” (531) Truth was highlighting that woman are not weak, without mentioning giving birth or creating life, by stating that she can work and do on the field everything the men can do. Using labor as an example is something that many can relate to especially in during the antebellum reform.

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While many women might not have had physical labor jobs they were wives. Being a housewife and a mother was a job that did not come with payment. Some women stayed at home not because of luxury but because the man did not want her to work. So, women were able to relate to that, they wanted to work but they couldn’t because they were “fragile”, yet they knew they could do the job since they handled so much at home. “While Truth delivered ‘Ain’t I a woman?’ more than a hundred and fifty years ago, her argument in support of the emancipation of women and African-Americans exposes the same irony inherent in misogynistic discourse which protestors at Rhodes attempted to draw to public attention: namely that the fragility of women is a platitude only upheld when it is to the advantage of the beneficiaries of a patriarchal society.” (Lenahan, pg.121) Helen Lenahan used the speech “Ain’t I a Woman” in comparison to a protest con violent at Rhodes University. The point of the protest was to expose that men view women as fragile when it benefits them. This point was proven when male police officers handled the protest by using tear-gas against the women and started shooting rubber bullets. “From her own brutal experiences as a slave, Truth recalls the complete lack of any male concern for her ‘feminine fragility’ at that time. Similarly, many protestors at Rhodes spoke of the irony they observed in April, when a bare-chested demonstration aroused public outrage, supposedly because of the need to protect the female body from indecency, while the man-handling of many female students by police

officers, their being tear-gassed or shot with rubber bullets, met very little condemnation.” (Lenahan, pg.121) Women are not weak.

Women are not weak because they are powerful. In Truth’s speech she says, “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.” (532) Unfortunately, it took the men a long time to let the women do anything, and it’s still taking time to have equality, but she was right about one thing, women are powerful. Based off the bible, Eve shook the world by disobeying God and taking a bite of the forbidden fruit. Although Truth uses the example to show the amount of power women have she also mention that they want to fix the problems at hand, and that they are asking if they can help fix them. By men not giving them rights, they are basically saying “no”.

“This sense of duty impelled young women to pioneer roles in teaching, writing, mission and social reform- roles which over time led to the feminization of American religion and the rise of voluntary campaigns which prefigu red more formal provision of social services by the state.”

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