Thursday, March 15, 2007

Feminine Expression In Poetry

Poetry can become a way for the feminine mind to express its resentment and weariness of the binds that society place on it. Three such poems follow this venue; "wishes for sons", "Role Models", and "Natasha in a Mellow Mood". All three tackle the positions and roles women are forced into by society and how a woman's personal view conflicts with that of society's. Each poem heightens the woman's personal response to such traditional but somehow stifling and unfair conventions by examining them within the context of a male's perspective of the situations discussed in the poems. This demonstrates how society's perspective more favorably supports the masculine over the feminine and demeans the feminine in various manners and also attacks this trope by examining how it works against the feminine individual to show how it is unfair.

In "wishes for sons" this is achieved by applying the woman's plight to her son's future. A mother, generic not specific, wishes for her sons to experience all that she has had to face in order to illustrate, in a manner that supports empathy rather than the lesser sympathy, the annoying and often time embarrassing circumstances a woman can face because of her bodily functions. This wish is not so much to curse men with a similar fate but to raise sympathy and awareness for what women suffer in uncomfortable situations that men don't have to deal with. This is supported in the fact that each circumstance listed deals with social situations rather than general conditions women face such as cramping, pregnancy, etc. The wishes are centered around how inconvenient it is to be female at particular moments rather than how repulsive the entire condition is. Also, because the poem has to specific sender (no named author) nor no specific receivers, the wishes seem to be directed to a wider male audience than one mother and her sons. All men are supposed to take away from this a consideration for just what women have to face everyday with these small inconveniences for being female and perhaps to be a little more sympathetic for it. In other words this could be a response to that oh so annoying phrase, "Oh, it's just that time of the month so she's just being a witch."

"Role Models" approaches the same matter in a different manner by challenging the conventions of who are deemed worthy role models. By having the male listener in the poem react in a manner that suggests he's humoring the author but seems to doubt his decision demonstrates yet again, as in "wishes for sons", the way that society seems to demean the feminine position by, in a way, smiling and nodding its head while pretending to listen. This poem argues for the validity of a strong feminine role model who can challenge a girl to test her limits. Superman or Spiderman can't do this for a young girl because there is too great a gulf placed between boys and girls even at a young age so that the masculine is something treated as almost alien to the feminine. Boys go fishing, girls play house. How can the macho Superman teach Sally to respect herself when he is so different from anything she can possibly become in the future? Wonder Woman is the girl's hero because she is something familiar. So way should it be strange the author describes her as her hero? The further demeaning nature of the author's father's comments about Wonder Woman further stresses how society overlooks a woman's real values for the superficial attractions of the body. The author makes this point and urges that women can make great role models just as easily as men. Even the fact that she challenges Supergirl and Bionic Woman in their standing because they delineate from men stresses just how greatly the masculine infringes on the feminine with regard to directing how it is perceived and produced. However, she does include them as role models because, in the end, they too teach her how to support herself and learn to fly even within the structure of the masculine as a societal framework (i.e. the masculine superhero giving rise to the feminine counterpart).

Lastly, "Natasha in a Mellow Mood" approaches this matter by taking a pop culture icon and fleshing her out with personality and depth. This poem attacks a few different boundaries by considering both sex and culture but here I focus on the feminine concerns rather than cultural though both have a strong statement within the poem. Natasha is something trope, like the Barbie doll, and her form as governed by the cartoonist is developed by pop culture's view of women. Natasha as a person seeks to escape this two dimensional existence to be fleshed out in reality by breaking all conventions as a cartoon figure for children and as a cultural pun for the American cartoonist. This break between the fake female that has been shaped by pop culture and the real feminine that is described by passion and desire is illustrated by the actual vision of washing the ink from Natasha's hair coming nude out of the bath and escaping all expression in drawing that no cartoonist would dare attempt in the passionate embraces of physical love. This brings the two-dimensional figure to a three dimensional environment and suggests that the real woman cannot be captured by any artist or cartoonist willing to conform to the mandates of society. Natasha wants to become a real woman not constructed by rigid boundaries such as pen lines or cheesy, fake accents.

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