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Womxn Are Shifting Power and Confidence: Poetry Reflection

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

The harsh reality that used to suffocate womxn was the idea that their only duty in this life was to be a wonderful mother and wife. Womxn were once raised to believe that as long as they are by a man’s side, then their life would be all set: but as a housewife of course. However, we have entered a modern reality where this is no longer a singular truth. This shifting reality has even been embedded into our literature.

writing in journal on desk
Photo by NeONBRAND from Unsplash
Emily Dickinson is considered to be one of the most important American poets of the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, she grew up at a time where the housewife ideology was forced onto her. However, she was one of many who rejected this “duty” and dreamed of a better future. Her poem assigned the title, 732, highlights this confrontation, “She rose to His Requirement-Dropt, The Playthings of Her Life, To take the honorable Work, Of Woman, and of Wife–”, To those of you who aren’t English nerds, Dickinson is talking about dropping her passion for writing and poetry, to fulfill the slot of mother and wife. In the lines that follow she notes how her husband is aware of her giving up her dreams and he tries to cover it up with pretty things like “pearls” but it is no use, she is left to eternal suffering. Even in her time, merely questioning her role was crazed: Why would a womxn want more? 

Mug of black coffee next to woman reading a book
Photo by Thought Catalog from Unsplash
However, jumping into our now modern twenty-first century, we know why, because we are not at the beck and call of any man and we live in a society that is heavily prevalent with self-love and womxn empowerment. Maya Angelou is regarded to be one of the most successful and well-established poets of our time. With her poem, Phenomenal Woman, she managed to capture the epitome of where a womxn’s headspace is today. In her poem, she notes other womxn’s curiosity as to her where her confidence comes from, and she says “I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size…It’s in the reach of my arms, The span of my hips, The stride of my step…” this is important because throughout her poem she is merely building on herself and all her little intricacies as a person, but it’s her confidence which makes her radiate. She even highlights how men succumb to her like bees to honey. Many modern womxn reflect the same stance.

women holding each other
Photo by Dennis Magati from Pexels
Womxn are no longer preoccupied with, nor inclined, to drop the so-called “playthings of [their] life,” instead we see a new generation of bossed-up womxn prepared to be phenomenal. Being a mother and a wife is no longer at the forefront of every womxn’s life, womxn choose and adapt as they wish and it is a beautiful sight to see.

Jay Telles

UC Riverside '22

Fourth-year English major with a love for social justice, fashion, and woman empowerment.
Deedee Plata

UC Riverside '22

20 year old creative writing major with a love for skincare, representation, and art. When not laying down and watching cartoons, I can be found working on my novel or browsing through baby name forums.