Amanda Damiano February 1, 2012
Explication of “Women”
In "Women", the speaker discusses a women's purpose: objects in place for support and satisfaction of men. May Swenson conveys the traditional passivity of women through physical placement of words, concrete imagery, and submissive tone.
The first notable characteristic of “Women” is the physical form of the poem itself. The shape of the poem strengthens the ideology of the message Swenson is trying to express. At first glance, the particular image of the poem could be a play on women’s curves. However, once the content is further examined, it is clear that Swenson is using the image of the poem to emphasize what women should be. The poem's structure imitates many different components: the rocking of a rocking horse, the curves of a woman's body, and an unscalable ladder. Through the swaying words and flowing structure, an illusion of rocking is created; thus, creating the vision of a rocking horse. The curvature, also, mimics a woman’s body. With regards to societal obstacles, the ladder imitates a woman’s struggle to prevail over such barricades to success. All aspects directly relate to the importance of a “traditional” woman in the eyes of men.
The first lines of the poem describe women as support structures for men: "Women should be pedestals/ moving pedestals/ moving to the motions of men.” A pedestal is thought of as a solid, unmoving structure. Nonetheless, May Swenson reveals that the pedestals are “moving to the motions of men.” This contradiction reveals the symbolism of the pedestal. The pedestals (women) are objects to be manipulated by men according to their whims. Regardless of women being support systems, they are still beneath the feet of men. Hence, representing the oppression of women by men, a common pattern repeated throughout the poem.
Moreover, the symbolism of the rocking horse reiterates the customary function of women. The speaker explains what other...