Burn Down the Master's House: The Intimate Histories of Slavery, Abolitionism, and Women's Rights


It has been more than three decades since Audre Lorde issued this wise advice to feminists: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Challenging feminist scholars for their failure to fully recognize the overlapping and intersectional oppressions of race, class, sexuality, and gender, Lorde both chided and encouraged women to remember that, “The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower.”

Taking cue from Lorde, this Olio will explore a time in American history when the feminist movement strove to link the fight for gender equality with the fight for racial equality. The first women’s rights movement, taking shape in the decades just before the Civil War found a common ally in the abolitionist movement. 

Americans such as Angelina and Sarah Grimke, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth worked together in their fight for freedom, viewing the struggle to end slavery and the struggle to free women from gender oppression as inherently linked via a common foe: patriarchy. 

We will analyze the ideas that undergirded this coalition, and study the strategies they employed to push for a full scale social revolution. We will explore the ultimate failure of this partnership, analyzing how racism and sexism undermined the movements’ unity after the Civil War. Finally, we will ask ourselves what we can learn from studying this moment in American history in the hopes of heeding Lorde’s advice in our own fights for equality and visibility.




Location: Trans-Pecos

9-15 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385

By opening its doors to the entire neighborhood, Trans-Pecos has created a space that is open-minded and unique, and is one of the few places in the city that give equal importance to both the local community and artists of all types.




Interdisciplinary Learning with the Best Professors


Think Olio is not about learning a new skill or adding credentials to your resume. It is about getting together with other people and expanding our worldview. It exists as a conduit for fruitful discussions, a dissent from the regurgitation of facts, and an embrace of new perspectives.


Learn about joining the Scenius for $10 / month



Other upcoming Olios


Jan 24

Living Room Salon | Tough Poetry in Dark Times

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Jan 31

The Dangerous Pleasure of Art

Taught by Geoff Klock
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

Sign Up - $20

Feb 1

Feb 2

OlioHouse | Our Stories, Our Bodies: Rape Culture in American History

Taught by Jamie Warren
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Feb 6

Olio Seminar | Space, Time, & Work: Understanding Labor

Taught by Lauren Hudson
7:30 p.m. at Berg'n

Sign Up - $75

Feb 9

OlioHouse | The Love Symposium

Taught by Skye Cleary
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $150

Feb 15

A Good Friend is Hard to Find: Philosophy and Friendship

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 21

Living Room Salon | Music and Environmentalism

Taught by Kristy Barbacane
7 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $15

Feb 22

The Circular Road: Art and the Religious Imagination

Taught by Michael Prettyman
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Feb 25

What Would Buffy Do? Radical Feminism and the Slayer

Taught by Jamie Warren
7:30 p.m. at Neuehouse Madison Sq.

Sign Up - $20

Feb 28

Into the Mystic: Music & the Moving Image

Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Blender Workspace

Sign Up - $20

May 17

Rethinking Refugee Trauma and Mental Health

Taught by Kim Nguyen
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

May 29

Composing Beauty: Mapplethorpe’s Quest for Perfection

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at BAM Fisher

Sign Up - $20


Find out when we launch new classes!