formerly Akeret haBayit in Training

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Equal Rights for Women : Shirley Chisholm

* This is a scheduled post of a persuasive analysis I did on Shirley Chisholm's speech. "Equal Rights for Women". I do not agree with everything she says, but I do believe that men and women, black and whites (excuse the names) are equals.*

As a an African American woman, Shirley Chisholm certainly could relate to the speech she gave in 1969 to the United States House of Representatives at Washington D.C. Based on proof, and strengthened by experience and values, her “Equal Rights for Women” speech was very persuasive. As one of her key points concerning equal rights for women, she speaks of the discrimination against blacks, and how it is similar to the prejudice against women.
It has been observed before, that society for a long time discriminated against another minority, the blacks, on the same basis - that they were different and inferior. The happy little homemaker and the contented "old darkey" on the plantation were both produced by prejudice.
As a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.
Prejudice against blacks is becoming unacceptable although it will take years to eliminate it. But it is doomed because, slowly, white America is beginning to admit that it exists. Prejudice against women is still acceptable. There is very little understanding yet of the immorality involved in double pay scales and the classification of most of the better jobs as "for men only."

Her use of antithesis and ethical appeal strengthens her examples and arguments, and her proof changes it from mainly persuasive speech, to strong logical reasoning. Rhetorical questions also strengthen her reasoning. Here is an excerpt that will exemplify this.
Let me note and try to refute two of the commonest arguments that are offered against this amendment. One is that women are already protected under the law and do not need legislation. Existing laws are not adequate to secure equal rights for women. Sufficient proof of this is the concentration of women in lower paying, menial, unrewarding jobs and their incredible scarcity in the upper level jobs. If women are already equal, why is it such an event whenever one happens to be elected to Congress?
It is obvious that discrimination exists. Women do not have the opportunities that men do. And women that do not conform to the system, who try to break with the accepted patterns, are stigmatized as ''odd'' and "unfeminine." The fact is that a woman who aspires to be chairman of the board, or a Member of the House, does so for exactly the same reasons as any man. Basically, these are that she thinks she can do the job and she wants to try.

Finally, as conclusion, she provides a solution, and explains what equal rights would look like and what an amendment would do. Again, she uses antithesis to strengthen her conclusion and provide reasoning, ethical appeal, making her proposition of policy complete.
As for the marriage laws, they are due for a sweeping reform, and an excellent beginning would be to wipe the existing ones off the books. Regarding special protection for working women, I cannot understand why it should be needed. Women need no protection that men do not need. What we need are laws to protect working people, to guarantee them fair pay, safe working conditions, protection against sickness and layoffs, and provision for dignified, comfortable retirement. Men and women need these things equally. That one sex needs protection more than the other is a male supremacist myth as ridiculous and unworthy of respect as the white supremacist myths that society is trying to cure itself of at this time.
I am sure this excellent persuasive speech encouraged the equal rights amendment, and Shirley Chisholm certainly deserves credit and remembrance for her efforts to create equality among men and women, and blacks and whites.

1 comment:

  1. Good review! The Bible says that in Christ there is neither male or female..we are all loved equally and Jesus gave the ultimate gift of himself to EVERYBODY, if we will only accept it.


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