Sojourner minister’s definition of a woman in her speech

Sojourner Truth effectively uses description to counter a white minister’s definition of a woman in her speech “Ain’t I A Woman?” given in 1851 at a Women’s Convention for suffrage. The minister before Truth defines women by generalizing his personal experience: white, upper class, dainty, and needing to be taken care of. It was the traditional view of women that had been held since practically the beginning of time. Truth uses herself as a counterexample for his definition. She repeatedly asks the rhetorical question “(…) ain’t I a woman?” after each point that she refutes. She first tells the audience how she’s never been helped into carriages or such despite the minister saying that that is what defines a woman. She uses her experience in slavery saying she has “worked as much and ate as much as a man… and could bear the lash” just as well as any man. She even asks the audience to “look at her arms” which one can imagine were fairly muscular from the amount of labor she did as a slave. She uses her first hand experience to show the minister that his use of inductive reasoning proved to be faulty. She then moves on to say how she “borne thirteen children” and watch them be sold to slavery which effectively uses pathos to draw in the mainly maternal audience.Susan B. Anthony takes a very different approach to addressing women’s rights compared to Sojourner Truth. Anthony has a much more formal tone than Truth’s much more casual tone. Anthony’s speech was in a way her defense in her trial where she was denied the right to testify for herself (“Susan”) which accounts for her formality. In addition, Anthony uses description and definition in a more abstract way rather than relating it to herself. She makes generalized statements that apply to a much broader audience. Also Anthony isn’t looking to give a counterexample but rather give her own stance. Just as Truth builds her ethos, Anthony builds her’s through her citation of the preamble of the Constitution which shows her intellect. This allows Anthony to force opponents into a dichotomy of agreeing with Anthony or disagreeing with the document that the nation is founded upon. This is similar to Truth who forces listeners to choose between agreeing with her or perpetuating slavery. Anthony uses charged words to create a negative image of the current government, calling it an “oligarchy” repeatedly. Anthony, unlike Truth, doesn’t counter the idea that women are considered dainty and dependent. Rather Anthony comments more on the Constitutional Rights of women regardless of how they act. This is important because Truth was responding to a claim rather than stating her argument. In addition to that, Truth was speaking to a much more diverse demographic which included many different social classes. Truth decided to focus more on the refutation of the standard image of women. On the other hand, Anthony had a much different audience. Anthony would travel around to give speeches meaning that her audience was probably much higher class. This meant that Anthony, not wanting to offend her audience, couldn’t talk about carriages or “having the best place everywhere” but instead of what it means to be a citizen.Definition and description are both essential tools to use in persuasive arguments. Truth used description to show how having a solid definition is imperative in order to have a valid argument. The minister used definition poorly which allowed for his opponent, Truth, to be able to refute his stance easily. The use of a counterexample proves the same usefulness in persuasion as it does in mathematics. In mathematics, a proposition is deemed invalid if at least one counterexample is found. Truth effectively described her circumstances to provide a vivid counter to the minister. This in turn shows how when used poorly, definitions can work against one’s argument but when done correctly and effectively, it can be quite powerful. Description can also evoke strong emotions thus creating pathos. Anthony’s use of repetition with the word “oligarchy” in conjunction with negatively charged words, she paints a negative connotation around the government’s state at the time of the speech. Similarly, description can be used to create a positive connotation around an idea; however, negative descriptions tend to be much more impactful because those descriptions are more easily remembered.Works Cited”Susan B. Anthony.” Contemporary Heroes and Heroines, vol. 3, Gale, 1998. Biography in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/K1607000012/BIC1?u=moul66709&xid=85d9c4aa. Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.