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In Women’s Shoes

June 7, 1913 — Before Mr. Justice Darling, defending herself at the Law Courts for smashing windows, London, England


Gentlemen of the Jury, — I am asking you to put yourselves as men in the position in which women find themselves to-day, so that you understand the motive of the charge that has been brought against us. I want you to imagine that you as men, not only you yourselves, but your whole sex, are governed by laws that are made for you solely and entirely by women. I want you to imagine yourselves transgressing those laws, and then being forced to go before women judges, to gain your case before a jury of women; and I want to ask you whether, in such a case as this, you would not consider this to be an intolerable position?

If Babies Were Pigs.

There are roughly 1,000,000 children born into this country every year, and the rate of mortality amongst them is 100,000. We are told by doctors and by the people who prepare these reports, that this tremendously heavy death-rate is due to preventable causes. I venture to put it to you that if there were a death-rate of 100 pigs out of every thousand, there would immediately be a commission — the thing would be discussed in Parliament, drastic remedies would be taken and put into force. Why is that? Because pigs belong to men’s sphere; men are concerned with the care and nurture of pigs; but children — babies — belong to women’s sphere. The reason why these windows are valued is because they cost money, and it costs money to replace them. I want to ask you, then, who pays for human life? Is it not true that whatever men pay for, the great cost of human life is paid for by women?  . . . .

I tell you those holes in these windows were mouths “calling attention of the public to the fact that 100,000 little children’s lives are destroyed every year, and that suffering of 100,000 mothers has been given in vain. Do you wonder, Gentlemen, at the indignation felt by women? Do you think it needed our words or our incitement to drive women to protest?

I want you to see behind those broken windows what the women saw who broke them. I mean, I want you to see the broken human lives. I ask you to regard the grievances, the compassions, the provocations and the repressions that have called forth this political protest, and to take them into account when deciding your verdict.



Source: Votes for Women, June 20, 1913.


Also: The Rhetorloge: or Study of the Rhetor or, Orator, Third Edition of Forms of Oratorical Expression, by J.N. Ruffin (New York: Edgar S. Werner & Co.) 1922, p. 521.