Friday, February 17, 2012
Homage to My Hips
Clifton’s “Homage To My Hips” is a wonderful poem that has themes of feminism woven in each and every line, specifically emphasizing the woes of being a woman in a patriarchal society and the strength women have the potential to wield. She illuminates these ideas through the devices of imagery, metaphor and symbolism throughout the poem, making them more significant to the reader.
Clifton is taking something with a negative connotation, “battleship hips”, and makes them seem sexy, confidant, and something to be proud of. Since hips are associated with childbearing and are a very feminine feature, one can also gather that they are being used as a symbol for women. So, the ideas Clifton is bringing to light can be applied to all women, not just herself specifically, or women who are larger in size. She repeats the word “hip(s)” throughout the poem, showing she is not ashamed of them, and showing the importance of them. “These hips are big hips/they need space to/ move around in./they don’t fit into little petty places”(lines 1-4)—This is one of the more pertinent ideas in the poem. Not only is the author addressing physical figure and how she shouldn’t be expected to fit into spaces that are too small, which is a general expectation in her society (as well as ours still today), but also she is using these ideas to symbolize a bigger picture. The “petty places” she is describing are literally places that larger hips may be looked down upon being in, i.e. on a bus, in a crowded street, and also metaphorically symbolizes places like the kitchen, the home, the bedroom---places that women are expected to be in in her society. Clifton believes women don’t want to be in these places that won’t get them anywhere in the world, they want to go out and do what they want and want to have some sense of fulfillment in their lives, working and being pertinent in society. “They need space to move...