Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Aabha Rosy Vatsa writes


Ain't I a woman.
Capable of sparking a revolution
Transforming lives
Changing attitudes
Propelling a mass movement
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Who protested for our rights
Right to speak up
Right to vote
Right to social acceptance
Right to equal pay
Right to equal opportunity
Right to practise religious beliefs
Right to be a parliamentarian
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
That nurtures a belief
That men and women were created equal
That spearheaded Feminism
Striving for liberation
Hopeful of a Utopian society
For we marched in millions
For a women friendly world
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Who dared to stand up
Against the pitfalls of World War 1
And boldly proclaim in Russia
'Bread and Peace'
Driving out the Czar
Laying the seeds of Russian revolution
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Who stood up against female genital mutilation
And sparked a riot in Nigeria
Sending palm leaves to sisters
Forcing the unscrupulous chiefs to resign
And exempting women from taxes
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Who collectively gathered all laundresses
And sparked a revolution
Forcing the Irish lawmakers
To grant a second week of annual holiday
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Belonging to the league of Eleanor Roosevelt
Who read out  an open letter at the UN
Inspiring women to become involved
In national and international affairs
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
The unforgettable Butterflies
Of the Dominic Republic
Openly opposing dictatorship
Assassinated in cold blood
But giving forth to November 25
As international day to end violence against women
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Revolting in Iceland
To protest against economic inequality
Announcing woman's day off
Bringing the nation to a standstill
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Protesting against civil war
Forcing men to practise peace
And take instant action
Ending a fourteen year civil war in Liberia
Appointing the first female head of state
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
A member of Gulabi Gang
Who dared to raise voice against domestic abuse
Wielding bamboo sticks
A pink revolution for injustice against women
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Creating an uprising
From Morocco female land owners
To Tunisia fighting for gender equality
To Lebanon scrapping the controversial rape law
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
As Malala Yousafza
Shot by propagandists and extremists
Revolting against the heinous attack
Giving the message
'Education for Girls'
As history is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Capitalizing on digital activism
With hashtags
As history  is my witness

Ain't I a woman
Enlivened by environment
Forsaking patriarchy
Revolting against domestic violence
Speaking out against sexual harassment
Taking on gender inequality
For the time is now
For the time is here and now
And nothing can stop me
Nothing will stop me
Image of "Intervention of Sabine Women" painting
The Intervention of the Sabine Women -- Jacques-Louis David


  1. In order to populate his new city, Romulus allowed any undesirable person in central Italy to become a Roman. However, disreputable women could never become respectable wives who would confer honor and legitimacy on her husband and family. So Romulus attempted to arrange proper marriages with the Sabines and other neighboring peoples, but none of them wanted to marry their daughters to outcasts. Romulus held a festival and public games, and then kidnapped the young, unmarried women who attended. Shortly thereafter, the city of Rome experienced its first public demonstration, led by the abducted Sabine daughters. According to historian Titus Livius, Romulus promised the Sabine women that "they would live in honorable wedlock, and share all their property and rights, and – dearest of all to human nature – would be the mothers of freemen." He "begged them to lay aside their feelings of resentment and give their affections to those whom fortune had made masters of their persons. An injury had often led to reconciliation and love; they would find their husbands all the more affectionate, because each would do his utmost, so far as in him lay, to make up for the loss of parents and homeland." Meanwhile, the aggrieved Latin towns of Caenina, Crustumerium, and Antemnae took action against Roma, but were defeated and conquered by Romulus, who allowed some of their people, chiefly the families of the abducted women, to settle at Roma. The Sabines were slow to act, but Titus Tatius eventually led his army against the Romans. Before the battle, however, the Sabine wives, some in funerary attire and some carrying their newborn children, interposed themselves between their husbands and fathers and pled for peace. As a result, Tatius and Romulus formed a joint rule over the united Romans and Sabines. Tatius gave his only daughter Tatia to Romulus' youngest son Numa Pompilius, who had been born on the same day that Roma was founded. After 5 years of successful management of the kingdom, Romulus and Tatius quarreled over some misdeeds by Tatius' friends; as a result, Tatius was stoned to death by a mob. After Romulus' death, the senators took turns ruling the kingdom for 5 days each, but after a year the Roman and Sabine factions agreed to install Numa as king.

    This, of course, is a legend for which no historical evidence exists. Still, the Sabine women, the idealized matronae, were portrayed as being protectors of the state and the family. They forcefully entered a male space, the battlefield, and achieved a political goal through that action. This tale and Romulus’ promise reflect that, although women had no official political authority in Rome, they did possess a traditional authority as protectors and partners, particularly when they achieved the status of matrona. Livy associated the establishment of that customary agreement with Rome’s founder.

  2. Isabella Baumfree was born into slavery in rural, New York. She spoke only Dutch until she was 9, when she was sold at auction with a flock of sheep for $100. By the time she was 13 she passed through 2 more owners. When she was 18 she fell in love with a man from a neighboring farm, but his owner, a British painter named Catton, did not want his property to have children with other people's property because he could not own them, so he brutally beat his slave, who never saw "Belle" again. Subsequently, she had a daughter by her master and a son by her own husband. In 1799 New York had decided to emancipate the slaves in that state in a gradual process that would end in 1827, but Belle's owner promised to free her a year later "if she would do well and be faithful." However, he reneged, and she fled with her daughter in 1826. She later said "I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right." A family took her in and officially bought her freedom for #20. Meanwhile, she found out that her former owner had illegally sold her son to a planter in Alabama, and in 1828 she regained him after becoming the 1st African-American woman to win a court case against a white man. Her son disappeared on a whaling voyage in the early 1840s. She became a Methodist in 1843, changed her name to Sojourner Truth, and became an abolitionist speaker. Eventually she joined the household of William Lloyd Garrison's brother-in-law, and Garrison, the leading American abolitionist, published her autobiography in 1850.

  3. On 29 May 1851 she spoke extemporaneously to the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio, presided over by feminist Frances Dana Barker Gage. Horace Greeley's "New York Tribune" and Garrison's "Liberator" reported on the speech, and the convention's recording secretary Marius Robinson published a transcript in the "Anti-Slavery Bugle" almost a month later, written in collaboration with Trith, but it became known as "Ain't I a Woman" in a new version published by Gage in 1863 in her "History of Woman Suffrage." She lengthened it, added a number of false biographical details, rendered it in a minstrel-like imitation of Southern slave dialect, and inserted the "ain't I a woman?" refrain. Truth, of course, was a New Yorker, not a Southerner, and she prided herself on enunciation; her but it is the 1863 version that has been standard. (Gage revised it again in 1881, with a less severe dialect.)

  4. Robinson called the speech "one of the most unique and interesting speeches of the convention... It is impossible to transfer it to paper, or convey any adequate idea of the effect it produced upon the audience. Those only can appreciate it who saw her powerful form, her whole-souled, earnest gesture, and listened to her strong and truthful tones." According to him, she said,"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 can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart -- why can't she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, -– for we can't take more than our pint'll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don't know what to do. Why children, if you have woman's rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won't be so much trouble. I can't read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard." Gage dramatized the event, describing Truth as "a tall, gaunt black woman in a gray dress and white turban, surmounted with an uncouth sunbonnet" who was heckled and jeered by the crowd; but "every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows." After presenting her spurious rendition of the speech, Gage claimed, "I have never in my life seen anything like the magical influence that subdued the mobbish spirit of the day, and turned the sneers and jeers of an excited crowd into notes of respect and admiration. Hundreds rushed up to shake hands with her, and congratulate the glorious old mother, and bid her God-speed on her mission of 'testifyin' agin concerning the wickedness of this 'ere people.'"
    Truth continued her oratorical career. In 1858 she was jeered by a man who accused her not being a woman at all, so she opened her blouse to reveal her breasts. In 1872 she tried to vote but was prevented by the election officials. She died in 1883 at 86.


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