Sarah Grimke

The selection Available Means provides from Sarah Grimke is a letter in reply to a letter from her brother-in-law ("Letter to Theodore Weld"). Although his original letter is not provided, its contents can be inferred from the arguments that she makes. This technique is perhaps more necessary when large amounts of time might separate correspondence, but it also allows her to reframe his arguments to suit her own purposes.

She writes at times as if she agrees with him, as if the interpretation that he gave was certainly not the one his wife claimed he meant, but something better. Sarah's words seem unagitated even when she claims that "the ministry as now organized is utterly at variance with the ministry Christ established, tends to perpetuate schism and disunion, and therefore must be destroyed" (115). And, of course, the current organization of any ministry of her time was a hierarchy of men.

Grimke is entirely reasonable in her arguments that the cause of women's rights do not infringe upon the cause of abolition. "I cannot see why minds may not be exercised on more than one point without injury to any" (117). The problem that Grimke refuses to address is that of division within the ranks. The more causes are added to any group, the smaller the group will be. Ideally, human rights should include both gender equality and the abolition of slavery, but when the abolitionists required a larger constituency, they were forced to sacrifice the less popular cause of women's rights.

And, by doing so, they buried women's rights for a greater good. It seems that this sort of attitude continues even to the current day, when women's rights advocates are shut down because their problems aren't as vital as other causes. 'Why should we bother with these silly women and their pet causes? They should be content with what they have, because there are others who suffer more.'

Even when women have the franchise and the right to hold office, the legislature of the United States has nothing like gender parity. Is this because of some innate inability of the female to hold office or the fact that the culture has still not shifted to include women's rights and gay's rights and the rights of those called 'other' as fundamental human rights?

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