Empathy and Respect

Throughout Emmeline Pankhurst’s Speech from the Dock she tries to be respectful towards the men who would be reading this. “I do not want to say anything which may seem disrespectful to you, or in any way give you offense, but I do want to say that I wish, sir, that you could put yourself into the place of women for a moment before you decide upon this case .” (Pankhurst 470) There are many instances where Pankhurst tries to emphasize that men cannot comprehend how these women are feeling and she tries to make them feel empathetic towards their oppressed political rights. “I want you, if you can, as a man, to realize what it means to women like us. We are driven to do this, we are determined to go on with agitation, because we feel in honor bound.” (471) Do you think that Emmeline Pankhurst’s approach helps her cause and would be effective? Do you think it hurts her arguments? Why?

2 Replies to “Empathy and Respect”

  1. I believe that in the time period, men are stuck in their ways. Marriages are traditional, women are treated poorly, and their opinions do not matter. She feels like she has no choice but to continue with the agitation. I believe she in her heart thinks this approach is going to be effective, but I do not. I do not think it is hurting her argument because she is trying to be respectful, i just think men at the time simply disregard her approach.

  2. I think her approach is effective, mainly because every person has a different experience in society based on their specific demographic. By asking for this to be taken into account, it isn’t asking for any sort of special treatment as many men of the period would likely claim, but more so that consideration be taken to observe the situation from the point of view of somebody different from themselves. It is a well-intended request, and while perfectly logical given these circumstances and the social climate of the period, it could easily be taken by more conservative men as insulting that they would not be considering what is best for the woman…as in their own views, they likely are firm in the belief that they are doing what is write. This is the inherent problem. Not the men who outright oppose women’s rights after considering the effort and points raised by it, but rather those who are so beholden to the ideal that men and women are unequal that they believe only themselves are qualified to determine what was best for women. So for those individuals, this request by Pankhurst likely meant nothing, but to more moderate individuals who could be swayed, it might be enough to shift the balance of political power in favor of the movement.

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