YAY! Today, I’m hosting the Fierce Female Reads February Blog Tour and this is my post! Be sure to check out Ashley’s blog for more deets and follow @fiercefemreads on Twitter so you don’t miss anything!
Let me get personal for a moment.
My understanding of who I am, of my strength, my values, what it means to be an intsectional feminist, has been fundamentally built upon through the female characters represented within literature that I’ve read. As I’ve grown up, I’ve been able to further my understanding concerning what it means to have strength as a woman. Now, I’ve become more critical when the characterisation of female strength is demeaned through portrayals of stereotypes. But that’s not quite what I’m talking about in today’s post. If you’ve read the completely douchey title (which I slightly changed haha) you will then know that today I’m going to briefly explore the movement of female empowerment and strength in poetry. Poetry is a literary form that is very near and dear to my heart. I just feel it, you know? The first time I read Salt by Nayyirah Waheed, I had such an ache in my heart that I sobbed for an hour.
The Fierce Woman of Survival
When I read milk and honey by Rupi Kaur I remember feeling so infinitely proud to be a woman. Through heart-wrenchingly raw prose, Kaur utilised her femininity in a way that worked to empower her and her readers. Her womanness was not a weakness, though it was abused and discriminated; the very fact of her existence as a woman was a curse but through her healing and survival, the Woman depicted by Kaur was a personification of bravery and courage.
Within her poetry, Kaur uses the image of the ‘home’ to discuss how it felt for her body to be abused and trespassed without her consent. Her body, her home, had to rebuild itself after her innermost being was stolen. But Kaur emphasises the inviolability of her womanness and from the ashes, she rises as a Woman who recognises that she is worth more than being subjucated because of her sex and gender. It is an extremely freeing and liberating roar of prose because it emphasises this theme of female empowerment, which has finally been at the forefront of polictical, social and cutltural dialogue in the last few years.
What some would call ‘feminist poetry’, Rupi Kaur’s poetry brought to light how we ourselves have the power to be so much more. Our survival begins with us first, and that is one of the cornerstones of Kuar’s poetry, continued with her second collection the sun and her flowers. The Fierce Woman in Kaur’s work is one who personifies courage, the need to grow, to find happiness and fulfiilment, her supports other women, who faces challenges with her fists clenched, raised and ready to battle any obstacle who gets in her way. The Fierce Woman of Survival in this case, then represents how incredible the inner strength of women can be – the amount of absolute shit we go through but yet, here we are. Breathing, living, being who we are and yes, there are bad days, weeks, months even years – I’ve been there – but a fierce woman gets right back up because we each have a Phd in surivival and kicking ass.
The Fierce Woman, the Witch and the Mermaid
Briefly, I now want to consider the impact of such poetry that enforces women to take control of their own story. For example, Amanda Lovelace’s Women Are Some Kind Of Magic poetry series emphatically pushes the notion that women have been oppressed and silenced enough throughout history. Lovelace does this through a sort-of historical look at how women have been categorically ostracised, discriminated and oppressed, because they did not ‘fit’ society’s ideal and norm of what it meant to be a woman. The Witch, for instance, has been seen in history to – in its majority – be a way of policing women who sit outside the boundaries of societies. Women who live alone, who don’t prescribe to societal pressures, and who speak out are labelled and victimised. The Witch then became a diabolical crone working alongside the Devil in absolute and extreme malevolence.
The image of the Mermaid or the Siren is one also of malevolence. A feminine creature whose only goal is to lure men to their deaths. Have you ever considered how the mythology surrounding the Mermaid was created? Amanda Lovelace’s next installment in her Women Are Some Kind Of Magic series is coming out in March and it explores the notion of the Mermaid as a fierce female figure and how it relates to the women of today. The Little Mermaid, for example, is one of the best known fairytales of our modern day. The Hans Christian Anderson edition is the one I’ll be referring to at this moment. So the Mermaid, in this case, is punished. She realises that for what she has sacrificed for the love of the prince and to be ‘human’ was too much. She had no voice. Her voice was taken away from her for the price of having two legs. Walking and dancing gives her extreme pain but she does it for her love of the prince – the prince whose interest in her is superficial. The Mermaid represents every woman who has had to give up who they are, their dreams, their voice to meet the demands of those around them.
That’s a reason as to why mermaids and sirens are now portrayed as women who lure men with their song and their bodies. Women who are confident within their own sexuality are again, treated as inferior or victimised because it intimidates. Women who speak up are treated as inferior, as bitches – people can’t handle intelligent women having their own opinions based on facts and evidence.
The modern day Fierce Woman is all of these things. We are witches, dragonesses, mermaids – we are beings of magic with a voice. The glass ceiling ain’t going to break itself, is all I’m saying.
Although this post has been a bit more of a ramble than I anticipated (1000 words, goddamn) I hope you kind of get the gist of what I’m trying to say. Poetry is just one aspect to how we, as women (and men) connect with ourselves and with each other. The Fierce Woman is within all of us.
“A fierce female is a multifaceted woman who works to empower herself and empower others. She isn’t afraid to acknowledge her fear, her doubts and her insecurities; but she tries so hard to be brave and courageous. She works hard and is unflinching in the belief of her personal values. Although she may tremble in the face of her fear, she will do so with her head held high, ready to tackle the situation. The Fierce Female is within all of us. She basically slays everyday and takes names” – My definition of a fierce female
We are Fierce.
This has been my post for the Fierce Female Reads February Blog Tour!!!! Be sure to check out the other awesome bloggers who are also hosting!
Until next time, friends! Happy reading!
Lots of love,
7 thoughts on “An (brief) exploration of modern poetry and the portrayal of the fierce woman”
Great post! Yes, women throughout history were often either sexualised or demonised. Let’s write women back into history and find our own voices. 👏
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thank you!!! completely and utterly! writing women back into history is a must, our voices will totally roar 😛 xx