Page:On the Political Status of Women (Annie Besant).pdf/7

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When I was asked to give a lecture in this hall, I hesitated a little what to select for the subject of it. Various reasons seemed to restrict my choice to some political theme, but even with this restriction the field was a very wide one. But it so happened that this was my first lecture in any public hall, and a feeling of loyalty to my own sex made me determine that my first speech should be dedicated to the assertion of its rights; and I, therefore, chose as my subject, "The Political Status of Women." I am anxious that it should be clearly understood that I do not stand here as the representative of any society, nor am I even a member of any; therefore, whatever blame may be found with what I say, that blame should justly be levelled at myself alone, and not at the cause for which I plead. There will probably be a debate following the lecture, and in order that both friends and opponents may have every facility for reference both for attack and for defence, I divide what I have to say under distinct heads, choosing as these heads the arguments I desire to destroy:—

Why should the political incompetency of women receive so much attention when more pressing wrongs require a remedy?

Women are naturally unfit for the proper exercise of the franchise.

They are indifferent about the matter.

They are sufficiently represented as it is.

Political power would withdraw them from their proper sphere, and would be a source of domestic annoyance.

Lastly (as we have been told so often in Parliament), Women are commanded in the Bible to keep silence, and to be as generally unobtrusive as possible.