Sojouner told them that her breasts had suckled many a white babe, to the exclusion of her own offspring; that same of those white babies had grown to man’s estate; that, although they had suckled her colored breasts, they were, in her estimation, far more manly than they (her prosecutors) appeared to be; and she quietly asked them, as she disrobed her bosom, if they, too, wished to suck! In vindication of her truthfulness, she told them that she would show her breast to the whole congregation; that it was not to her shame that she uncovered her breast before them, but to their shame.
Sojourner Truth is made to bare her breasts to an Anti-slavery congregation after they accused her of being a man.
The display of a sensitive part of Truth’s body raises the paradox of her sexuality: On the one hand, black women over centuries have been degraded and unclean, as oversexed Jezebels, or at least sexualized objects. Even among abolitionist friends, the sexual vulnerability of slave women was a main theme. For friend or foe, in a racist stereotype and antislavery ideology, rampant sexuality clings to the figure of the black woman.
Nell Irv Painter, Sojourner Truth a life, a symbol (p.140)