Lifestyle

Thursday 28 August 2014

Article vs Speech: Part 2

Actress Emma Watson
Women in India, China and Eastern Europe sell their hair to escape hunger and poverty and to pay for a better education for their children. Photo: Getty Images.

To help you to appreciate the stylistic difference between writing an article and writing a speech, I have used the same topic, same structure and same ideas but I have transformed it into a speech.

Your task is to SPOT THE DIFFERENCES between them (we've identified 8 in total)

Speech on Personal Freedom

Hi everyone. You're very welcome to the Docklands Theatre for this lecture series and can I just say, I really appreciate the effort you've all made to be here. The bad weather probably had you jumping over muddy puddles outside, but you're here now, so relax, kick your shoes off if they're wet, switch off your phone and we'll begin

For those of you I haven't met before, my name is Mary Murphy and if you're tweeting this event I go by the not very cryptic twitter handle @marymurphyindo.

I'm a journalist with the Irish Independent and a human rights campaigner and I've spent the last seven years of my life studying the way our freedom in the Western World limits the freedom of people in the Developing World.

We live in an era of unprecedented individual freedom. If you're unhappy with your parents, you can divorce them.

If you (point to someone in the front row) are unhappy with your gender (pause for laughter) – and I'm not suggesting you are, cause you look pretty good as a guy to me – but if you were, you could just pop into a hospital and sort that out. Boom! You go from Phillip to Philomena in a heartbeat.

But what bugs me about all of this is the assumption that unlimited personal freedom is a good thing for society. That we're all better off because we can do what we want. I don't buy that personally.

I think we're too eager to glorify people's right to choose and we're far, far too willing to ignore the reality that people's choices are often limited & foolish and self-destructive.

While I might like the notion that I'm free to do whatever I want, the truth is that my freedom is guaranteed because I've had a good education and I live in a rich country.

One idea in particular that fascinates me is the statement you often hear people saying when they're getting a body piercing or dying their hair purple: "It's my body and I should be allowed to do what I want with it".

And I know that can sometimes be a good thing. I can shave my hair off for charity. I can donate a kidney to a family member. I can even be a surrogate for my sister if she's having trouble getting pregnant, and I'll definitely help out my gay brother and his partner if they want kids because no matter how hard they try, they are not gonna get pregnant.

The sad truth is, though, that lots of people shave their hair off and donate kidneys and act as surrogates for one very simple reason, and that reason is money.

How many of you know that hair these days is big business? I've got long brown hair (grab ponytail and wave it at audience) so I can sell my ponytail for about €100.

But if my hair was blonde, like this lovely lady in the front row (point) – would you mind standing up? – would you believe she could sell her hair today for €1,000?

So, if you see her on the street next week and she's doing an Emma Watson (right), you know what she's been up to. And you should ask her to buy you coffee, because she's got €1,000 in her back pocket.

Seriously though, let's talk about the real price of hair. The hair extensions industry in Ireland alone is worth about €2.5 million and the vast majority of this hair is imported.

Women in India, China and Eastern Europe sell their hair to escape hunger and poverty and to pay for a better education for their children.

This isn't about personal freedom, this is about lack of options, lack of money and lack of social structures.

The sad truth is, so that you and I can feel beautiful with our flowing extensions like Kim Kardashian, women in the developing world are making the decision to value food, shelter and education over their own hair.

And bear in mind that cutting their hair off means feeling 'ugly' for many of these women, because we're not the only culture that associates long silky hair with sexiness you know.

You see this with organ donation as well. There was a case in China recently where a 17-year-old teenage boy secretly sold one of his kidneys for €3,500.

But of course his mother soon twigged that something was up when he could suddenly afford to buy a new laptop, iPad and iPhone and she forced him to admit what he'd done.

Now this poor eejit didn't need the money – he wasn't starving – but I guess he wanted these signifiers of success pretty badly to go to this extreme.

What he did was profoundly stupid, no question. But as of now there's sadly no cure for stupidity in this world.

Maybe that's what my next research project should be! (pause for laughter).

Anyway, this kid then discovers that his remaining kidney has limited function. You won't actually believe this but he's now on the organ donor waiting list – I kid you not – alongside 1.5 million others. And if this doesn't prove that limiting people's freedom is sometimes necessary to protect them from their own stupidity, I don't know what does.

The last thing I want to mention, briefly, is surrogacy. Now, I don't have any moral qualms with a person deciding to be an oven for cooking up someone else's baby, but it's not as simple as setting the timer and waiting for the ping.

I read about a case recently in America where at the 20-week scan, they discovered the baby had foetal abnormalities.

The parents wanted the surrogate to have an abortion. But she didn't agree with abortion, and she could already feel the baby kicking, so she refused.The baby was in her body, but genetically the egg and sperm had come from the couple she was carrying it for.

So they went to court looking for a court order to force her to have an abortion. And what did she do? She went on the run.

The point I'm making here is that it is never, never as simple as "It's my body and I can do what I want with it".

Even leaving aside this extreme case, the truth is that most commercial surrogacy arrangements take place in poor countries where there is little regulation, countries like Thailand and Uganda and Ukraine and India.

In fact, in recent years baby factories have sprung up all over India. The industry is worth $2bn and somewhere in the region of 25,000 babies a year are born to surrogates.

But this is a country with poor hospital infrastructure. 56,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth every year. Not only are they putting their lives at risk, they're also being exploited.

They only get about 10 per cent of the amount being paid and they're signing these awful contracts which mean that as soon as the baby is delivered, they have no right to any further medical care.

So if they get sick or die, the couple who now have their beautiful new baby have no further responsibility towards this woman who has given them the gift of becoming parents. And for me, that is sick and that is wrong. (Pause)

I want to leave you with a quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm where he said that "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".

So the next time you hear someone say "it's my body and I'll do what I want with it", I want you to just spare a thought, please, for those who use their bodies for profit because they are the only item of value they possess. (Step back and bow. Pause for applause)

Thank you so much for listening (bow, wave, exit stage).

(*Mary Murphy is a fictional character)

Irish Independent Supplement

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