As part of the celebrations of International Women’s Day on 8th March, Emmeline Pankhurst’s great-great grandson Alexander Pankhurst-Loakes, a student at the University of Exeter currently studying Business, wrote a speech to commemorate the day. In this speech, he talked about his mothers’ work that has focussed on women’s hygiene and sanitation in Ethiopia, and the publishing of her book in order to mark the centenary of women’s rights, saying that “this book provides an unadulterated account of the last 100 years of women’s lives, and by reading it and sharing it, we can make sure that the trials and tribulations of those who have gone before us are not forgotten but viewed as the springboard from which we can leap forward.”
However, more crucially perhaps, Alexander also goes on to talk about what it has meant for him to grow up with the Pankhurst name, and the importance of being a male feminist. As he clearly phrases, “feminism is not men vs women, as it is so wrongly perceived, but, at least to me, it is about those who believe in equality and collaboration vs those who believe in patriarchal entitlement and gender hierarchy.” Therefore, this eloquently demonstrates the bizarre nature of people claiming men cannot be feminists, often because they argue men know nothing about fighting for women’s rights. Whilst this is arguably true, it is still crucial that men use their privilege to stand up for those who aren’t given a voice, and are still treated as the inferior gender, 100 years on from some women first getting the vote. Following on from this, it is crucial Alexander notices that “As a white heterosexual male my privilege is wasted if I do not recognise this prejudice that occurs as a result of it,” and therefore this is something all men can take note from.
“as a white, heterosexual male my privilege is wasted if I do not recognise the prejudice that occurs as a result of it,”
This speech is therefore rather fittingly ended by Alexander concluding that “we, as men can stay at home, care for, assist and show the women in our lives that we support their movement and then let them go out into the world and positively change it for us all.” Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for people to realise that simply being passive to what is going on is not going to resolve inequality, and that working together, looking out for all genders, races and sexualities is the best contingency we have to work towards complete equality.