A Feminist Analysis
In the poem The Secretary Chant Marge Piercy’s the speaker portrays the vision of a woman who has lost her humanity to her occupation. The poem tells a story of a woman who has lost touch with herself as a person, and consequently she views her body as a separate entity from who and what she once was. The tone of the poem is set immediately; she opens with “My hips are a desk (ll 1.)” I found this analogy very interesting that she uses the word are instead of like, by comparing labeling her hips as office furniture Piercy paints a bold image. This woman’s hips are a desk; she has already lost her basic humanity. In the first line she has already portrayed herself as an object. Piercy goes to a great deal of personification to paint a stronger and bolder image. 1. From my ears hang
2. chains of paper clips.
3. Rubber bands form my hair
4. My breasts are wells of mimeograph ink.
5. My feet bear casters. (ll 2-6)
Her body is no longer hers or that of a woman’s. Paper clips adorn her ears and bands form her hair. Not even what makes a woman a woman is left unscathed; her breasts are wells of mimeograph ink. The speaker is clearly a woman doing secretarial work, whose body has become one with her job, which is bluntly obvious as she describes her body parts as different pieces of office equipment. Why does she view herself and her body this way? Is it a self observation or is the result of the way she is viewed as or treated by her male coworkers, who in 1973 would view her as nothing more than a phone call answerer, meeting scheduler, and a coffee fetcher.
The speaker’s tone is robotic. Her movements, actions, and tasks are so redundant that there is no thought process needed to do them. Not only is her body dehumanized, but, so is her mind, “My head is a badly organized file. / My head is a switchboard/ where crossed lines crackle” (ll 9-10). There is no creativity...