Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Give us freedom or give us death

Another sunny but cold day today. I decided to go for trousers again and my crepe 1930s top I made last year. It's lovely for snuggling into in the cold! I also got to show off my new bag, a gift from my husband. It's only a cheapy from eBay but it looks fab and has loads of pockets on the inside. Best of all, it's lined in a leopard pattern!

As you may have noticed, today is International Women's Day. As before, today passed with with me barely being aware it was anything special, until I went out at lunch time.
Bristol has gained it's own temporary Speaker's Corner and I arrived just in time to see an actress (in very nice Edwardian style clothes) deliver a speech taken from this speech by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1913. Apparently we missed the 'I Have a Dream' speech by Martin Luther King just before this, which I was disappointed about - it's a great speech which I know fairly well and I'd have liked to have heard it given by a strong orator.
The Pankhurst speech wasn't one I'd ever heard before. It was beautifully delivered but I was most struck with how powerful her words were, and how they are still relevant to not only women, but anyone being poorly treated by their governments today. It's a long speech, so I've taken some of what I thought were the highlights, but I do recommend reading it in full. This is especially the case for Americans, as it draws heavily on American history, being given in America while Mrs Pankhurst was 'between gaol spells'!

We were called militant, and we were quite willing to accept the name. We were determined to press this question of the enfranchisement of women to the point where we were no longer to be ignored by the politicians.

You have two babies very hungry and wanting to be fed. One baby is a patient baby, and waits indefinitely until its mother is ready to feed it. The other baby is an impatient baby and cries lustily, screams and kicks and makes everybody unpleasant until it is fed. Well, we know perfectly well which baby is attended to first. That is the whole history of politics. You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under.

We wear no mark; we belong to every class; we permeate every class of the community from the highest to the lowest; and so you see in the woman's civil war the dear men of my country are discovering it is absolutely impossible to deal with it: you cannot locate it, and you cannot stop it.

They have said to us, government rests upon force, the women haven't force, so they must submit. Well, we are showing them that government does not rest upon force at all: it rests upon consent. As long as women consent to be unjustly governed, they can be, but directly women say: "We withhold our consent, we will not be governed any longer so long as that government is unjust." Not by the forces of civil war can you govern the very weakest woman. You can kill that woman, but she escapes you then; you cannot govern her. No power on earth can govern a human being, however feeble, who withholds his or her consent.

Human life for us is sacred, but we say if any life is to be sacrificed it shall be ours; we won't do it ourselves, but we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death.

If we win it, this hardest of all fights, then, to be sure, in the future it is going to be made easier for women all over the world to win their fight when their time comes.

Edited to say; And here's a video of the same speech, given by the same actress last year.

1 comment:

  1. OH! I would have loved to see that! I find it shocking how many women don't know about IWD! More needs to be done on that I think!

    Outfit looks fabboo too :)