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Womens Rights Are Human Rights Hillary Clinton Analysis Essay

On September 5, 1995, delegates from more than 180 countries joined together in Beijing China to hear Hillary Clinton's speech concerning women's rights. She addressed problems that every single country faced concerning the freedoms and liberties being taken away from women, and why it was important that they receive these freedoms. Using Burke's Dramatism method, I will analyze Clinton's "Remarks to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session." Throughout the analysis, I will cover the Dramatistic Pentad, which includes the Act (what was done due to the speech), Scene (describe where speech took place and the time frame it was set in), Agent (Hillary Clinton), Agency (What techniques were used to perform the Act) and the overall purpose of the act, and why it was performed.
During the time that the speech was delivered, Hillary Clinton's husband, Bill Clinton was serving as President of The United States of America. Clinton, who is the "Agent", was a very outspoken First Lady, thus she expressed her beliefs at the "Scene", which is the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women. The conference was prepared in order to achieve greater equality and opportunity for women around the world, which is the overall purpose of Clinton's act. She addressed problems that needed to be corrected in countries around the world, including the United States.

The problems that Clinton saw going on throughout the world ranged from the forced silence that oppressive governments laid on women to the forced prostitution that some women are placed into for monetary income. She claims that "The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women everywhere…" (Clinton) stressing the main goal of the conference, the overall purpose of the act. She goes on to discuss how everyone attending the conference has the responsibility to speak for those that are silenced and not allowed to state their views, thus giving direction to the characters involved in the scene. After she explains this, she goes on to describe problems amongst American women (who she is speaking for) "raising children on minimum wage, women who can't afford health care or child care, women whose lives are threatened by violence."
Within her speech, she claims that "No one should be forced to remain silent for fear of religious or political persecution, arrest, abuse, or torture." This means that she is telling governments around the world to respect women's rights and allow their voices to be heard. She goes on to discuss the problems with women within countries that silence them, giving rape used as an instrument of armed conflict, and women and children making up the largest portion of refugees as an example.
Clinton addresses "the silence of women" once again, when she states "For too long, the history of women has been a history of silence." Then offers up an immediate plan to fix the silence by stating "But the voices of this conference and of the women at Huairou must be heard loud and clearly." After the statement, she lists several different violation of "human rights" (no longer using the term "Women's Rights") by listing specific problems occurring around the world, such as women and girls being sold into slavery of prostitution, women doused with gasoline and set on fire, women raped in their communities, women dying within their own homes, etc.
One specific example she gives when she lists violations is "When babies are denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls." This was a direct reference to the rumored "female infanticide" that was supposedly taking place in China during the time that the speech was delivered.
Throughout the speech she not only focuses on what had been done in the past, but what will be done in the future if women are given true equality. She discusses how without equality, "The potential of the human family to create a peaceful, prosperous world will not be realized." meaning that the only way that it is attainable, is through equality. This is Agency, a strategy used to allow the figures of the audience to see all possible advantages. By showing everyone, male and female, specific things that would benefit everyone, this creates purpose for some people who might have opposed, a reason to agree with her. She also states that women must be able to participate in society and politics if freedom and democracy is able to thrive and endure. Another point made, is that "Women and girls matter to economic and political progress around the globe." Once again, using agency, stating that females will progress economics and politics, giving reason to everyone.

The agent (Clinton) used many different strategies in order fulfill the purpose of the act. From the very beginning of the speech, she implements a form of agency, by listing several contributions to the world that women make, from working at home, having jobs, being mothers, to being leaders. The list of several different responsibilities that women uphold, used in the very beginning, immediately stresses the broad range of what women are capable of doing. This allows people to know instantly where the agent (Clinton) stands.
Clinton explains how it can all be done peacefully, which is a part of the act, as well as a way to accomplish the overall purpose. giving a nod to the United States Women's Suffrage movement (that had recently celebrated its 75th anniversary before the speech was delivered). She explains how it took 72 years of struggle before it was achieved, yet due to the courageous acts of women and men, it was accomplished "Without a shot being fired." This statement suggests that equality can be approached, and problems concerning the rights and voices of women can be solved in every country, peacefully. That it may take a large portion of time, and that men will be completely helpful in solving the issues. She goes on to explain that action needs to take place now, that they need to move beyond simply planning, and start acting upon what they all initially assembled to do.
A shared approval seemed to envelope both political parties in the United States and the majority of the delegates that attended Clinton's speech showed approval by applause and cheers. This proved that the purpose of the act was somewhat successful. The viewpoint of China was uncertain though, due to a strained relationship between Beijing and Washington, caused by a visit to the United States from the president of Taiwan the previous summer. (Tyler, Patrick)
Pat Tuab, A small newspaper columnist in America, stated that the White House was uncomfortable sending Hilary Clinton as an agent to the seminar. Apparently, China was against the entire conference in the first place, and the United States didn't want to make relations even more damaged with the Chinese during the time. They were afraid that she would be too outspoken about her opinions.
Clinton was late to the scene due to flight delays, and other speakers came to express their similar ideas (majority of audience shared unity on the subject of women's rights) in order to stall the crowd. When word got out that Clinton was actually going to appear at the conference, the place flooded with people. The auditorium in Beijing (scene) only held "a few thousand people" and was completely packed.
When Clinton finally arrived on the stage at the conference, she was "memorizing" to the audience. She immediately expressed her disgust by throwing out her arms, and stated "This is humiliating. This is all they offered the women of the world? I am disgusted." (Clinton). The crowd applauded at her remark of disapproval for the scene, and she went right into delivering her speech. (Lowen)
Though the initial purpose of the speech (act), was for Clinton (agent) to show her disapproval for the treatment of women around the entire world, she stated later that a different purpose for the act was to stand up against the Chinese government (specifically) for their lack of "Human rights, [and] women's rights."
Specific accusations were made against the Chinese government (two-thirds into the speech). The infanticide and forced abortions that China had been accused of were brought up, however they were placed at the end of a long list of different countries problems with women, an agency strategy used to not sound as direct when making accusations towards China, a way for Clinton to pseudo-soften the blow a little and not sound quite as direct and forceful.

Clinton used the Act of the "U.N. 4th World Conference On Women Plenary Session" during her run for the 2008 presidential election, in order to boost voter's opinions of her, as she claimed "I went to Beijing in 1995 and stood up to the Chinese government." This wasn't the initial goal of her speaking at the conference, however she used the act to her advantage and added more purpose to it, in order to show that she had experience with standing up to China, which was a hot topic of debate during the election. (Adam)
The speech is recognized for fulfilling a partial portion of its purpose, by opening up more eyes about the problems women face around the world. Obviously, human rights and women's rights alike are still violated on an everyday basis around the globe, yet one of the purposes of the speech was to inform exactly what had been going on around the country, and she met that goal, reaching quite a large audience, in the scene of the auditorium itself as well as different media outlets. Her speech illuminated what women went through, how they were being silenced as human beings, and how their human rights were violated. The awareness was hindered in some places, some sources state that the broadcast of the speech was pulled from Beijing broadcasts. Success still came through, due to the impact the act had on everyone, and Clinton's speech on women's rights proved a success, laying foundation to give a voice to the women who were forced to remain silent.



Analysis of Hillary Clinton’s Speech: ‘Women’s Rights are Human Rights’

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.” On September 5, 1995, 180 countries came together in Beijing China to hear first lady Hillary Clinton's speech about women's rights. This speech was the United Nations Fourth World Conference of Women. The target audience for this speech is governments and other organizations that can help meet the goal of making women's rights human rights.  She addressed problems that every single country faced concerning the liberties of women, and why it was important that they receive these freedoms. The speech was courageous and considered path breaking too many in its demand for action. “The great challenge of this conference is to give voice to women everywhere whose experiences go unnoticed, whose words go unheard.”  Hillary Clinton has become famous for the statement: “Women’s rights are human rights.” She is known as one of the greatest women of our time, combining intelligence, compassion and bravery.  First I am  going to  explain how she strategically used ethos, pathos and logos then I will analyze the speech through Burke’s Dramatism pentad.


 The three key ingredients of a great speech are ethos, pathos and logos. “For Aristotle, the ethos of a speaker is persuasive when the speech demonstrates practical wisdom, moral virtue, and goodwill toward the audience.”(Aristotle’s Rhetoric)  Clinton makes it clear that she understands and is an important person covering the topic.  “Over the past 25 years, I have worked persistently on issues relating to women, children, and families. Over the past two and a half years, I've had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing women in my own country and around the world.”  She shows competence with her knowledge and expertise to the audience. “Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think they are credible” (Aristotle's Rhetoric).  Besides the words she is saying, she shows respectable charisma, and she appears to have a high level of confidence during the speech that also helps with her credibility.  Clinton is also a credible speaker because she is a well-known person.  Right around the time of the speech she was recognized as the Arkansas women of the year, received the international living legacy award, and she was the first lady. Also, because Clinton is a woman she proved that women are just as important as men.  For this reason, it was more appropriate for Clinton to present the speech than a man.


 This speech uses pathos to evoke emotions from its listeners. “In Greek, pathe means “emotions” and for Aristotle, pathos is an appeal to those states of mind that have an emotional component.” (Elements of persuasion)” Pathos is essential to have in a speech on a topic that strikes passion in the audience. Not only does Clinton make reference to all the women in our own lives, but she talks about appalling things that women have had to put up with: rape, abortion, burning and honor killings. Clinton uses anaphora to to highlight the different horrifying experiences women are put through.  She starts all eight of the statements with:  “It is a violation of human rights when…” These statements are very graphic and visual and she does a great job of painting a picture for the audience.  All these examples that she uses brings up her use of relevance. She lists how different scenarios were affecting the human rights of thousands of women all over the planet.  She strikes a feeling of sympathy in her audience and has examples that could be relatable to all different types of backgrounds.


Logos are explained as the “text of the speech” by Aristotle.  An important part of persuasion is the enthymeme, which is a “piece of reasoning.”(Aristotle’s Rhetoric).  Aristotle explains an enthymeme as a kind of claim, which initiates a transaction between the speaker and the audience.  The audience fills in unspoken assumptions that will verify the speaker’s claim and make it acceptable.  The enthymeme typically occurs as a conclusion coupled with a reason.  Clinton describes in her speech that “ If the term 'women's rights' were to be interchangeable with the term 'human rights' the world community would be a better place because human rights effect the women who raise the world's children, care for the elderly, run companies, work in hospitals, right for better education and better health care.” Hillary Clinton is trying to make the relation between ‘women rights’ and ‘human rights’ an enthymeme.  She wants those words to be interchangeable and acceptable for the world. Clinton explains that there is a problem in women not having equal rights, and her solution is to create a world in which women are treated with dignity, exempt of discrimination.


I am going to analyze Clinton’s speech through Burke’s Dramatism pentad. “The foundation of dramatism is the concept of motive: the reasons why people do the things they do.” Each event contains: act, scene, agent, agency and purpose. “ Burke believed that all of life was drama, and we may discover the motives of actors (people) by looking for their particular type of motivation in action and discourse.” I am going to analyze the Act (the speech), Scene (Where the speech took place, Beijing), Agent (Hillary Clinton), Agency (Techniques used in the speech) and the overall purpose of the act, and why it was performed.


The agent (Clinton) used many different strategies describing the purpose of the act.  In the beginning, she shows a form of agency by listing contributions to the world that women make.  The list included things from being leaders, working at home, having jobs, and being mothers. The list of responsibilities that women uphold, used in the very beginning, immediately shows what women are capable of doing. This allows the audience to know where the agent (Clinton) stands.  Reports stated Clinton spoke more “forcefully on human rights than any American dignitary has on Chinese soil,  she criticized China for seeking to limit free and open discussion of women's issues here.” (New York Times) "It is time for us to say here in Beijing, and the world to hear, that it is no longer acceptable to discuss women's rights as separate from human rights," Clinton told the Fourth World Conference.  (Analysis of Hillary Clinton’s Human rights speech)


Though the initial purpose of the speech (act), was for Clinton (agent) to show her disapproval for the treatment of women around the world, she stated later that a different purpose for the act was to stand up against the Chinese government for their lack of "Human rights, and women's rights." Clinton used the Act of the "U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session" during her run for the 2008 presidential election as she claimed "I went to Beijing in 1995 and stood up to the Chinese government." (Healy) This is a pretty strong claim and it wasn't the initial goal of her speaking at the conference; however she used the act to her advantage and added to it. The speech is recognized for opening up more eyes about the problems women face around the world.  Human rights and women's rights are still violated every day, yet one of the purposes of the speech was to inform exactly what had been going on around the country, and she met that goal. Clinton's speech laid foundation to give a voice to the women who were forced to remain silent. (Analysis of Hillary Clinton’s Human rights speech)


In conclusion, Hillary used ethos, pathos and logos very strategically to make her speech well known.  She was clear on the purpose of the speech and did an excellent job of spreading the word about discrimination on women.   I believe a speech like Hillary Clinton's in 1995 was memorable, but I think this speech shouldn't even have had to be given. It is a disgrace that these cruel events still exist in 2012. When are we going to stop talking about it and see action? Yes, she was perfectly right in every word she spoke. But, this speech was given 17 years ago and nothing much has changed.  When will women’s rights become human rights?



Works Cited


"Analysis of Hillary Clinton Human Rights Speech For The United Nations - Beijing 1995." InfoBarrel. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <http://www.infobarrel.com/Analysis_of_Hillary_Clinton_Human_Rights_Speech_For_The_United_Nations_-_Beijing_1995>.


"Aristotle's Rhetoric." American Rhetoric. Web. 25 Mar. 2012.


 "Aristotle's Rhetoric." Grammars of Persuasion. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <https://moodle.csbsju.edu/file.php/2327/Readings/Covino_Artistotles_Rhetoric.pdf>.


“Burke, Kenneth. 1945. A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969”


"Burke's Pentad: Dramatism." Rhetorica: Press-Politics Journal. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <http://rhetorica.net/burke.htm>.


 "Elements of Persuasion." Kenneth Burke's Dramatism. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <https://moodle.csbsju.edu/file.php/2327/Readings/Covino_Dramatism.pdf>.


 Healy, Patrick. "Clinton vs. Obama." The Caucus. New York Times, 20 Nov. 2007. Web. 25 Mar. 2012. <http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/20/clinton-vs-obama-take-2-in-iowa/>.


The New York Times. The New York Times. Web. 27 Mar. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/1995/09/06/world/hillary-clinton-in-china-details-abuse-of-women.html?pagewanted=all>.

Author: Sarah Carlson