How to Write a Women’s Empowerment Poem
Not that there is any right or wrong way!
Sexism has been entrenched in our patriarchal society since recorded history. From dealing with medieval misogynist male writers to the current struggles with sexual harassment in the workplace, women have long been warriors who fight for human rights. Women can attend a university, vote, make money, and own property all because of the feminist movement. It wasn’t that long ago that women were even considered property in marriage laws, so we thank all the women who struggled for our rights during the many waves of feminism.
The word “feminism” has long carried different definitions and connotations for all kinds of women, but one thing we can all agree on is that women are still not considered equal to men. We are still underpaid, undervalued in workplaces, and the glass ceiling is still present. As the #MeToo movement has shown, women’s bodies aren’t safe. Not just in America, but all over the world, women are survivors of sexual assault and double standards.
One of the best ways to express the injustices we go through is to write a women’s empowerment poem. You can choose to fight the patriarchy by giving voice to our struggles, or you can show how women are powerful, strong, and amazing by writing a poem from a feminist perspective. Here are some strategies and techniques to consider before you get started.
Reading about and researching feminism is the first step to writing a poem that is empowering for women. Start by reading about the female pioneers of the feminist movement. You can write a tribute to them, or you can read books by authors such as Gloria Steinem and Alice Walker.
It is liberating to express your voice through poetry, but we must also remember that not too long ago, women weren’t even considered seriously in the publishing industry and had to use male pen names in order to publish, so being a female poet is, in itself, already a form of protest.
CHOOSE A TOPIC
There are so many topics to choose from: from reproductive rights to the objectification of women in the entertainment industry: This is an area where you won’t run out of ideas. You can read the poetry of Nikita Gill and other feminist poets. You can also write about how women are gendered even if they choose not to engage in gender.
You can write about the sexist views our society sells to women about aging: Just go to any pharmacy, and you’ll see the bombardment of “anti-aging” marketing in the beauty section. Turn on the TV, and you’ll see the ads sold to women about youthful skin. Read a magazine, and you’ll notice the skincare products targeted to women that mask as self-empowerment and “self-care,” but are really advertising propaganda that propagates sexism and ageism.
No matter what topic you choose, know that everything you write about has value. The best way to decide on a topic is to write about something you feel passionate about.
Freewriting is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Begin your first draft as a journal entry, and in no time, your personal experiences could turn into a poem. Try to let the personal be political and vice versa. Your experience becomes universal when you write from your heart.
STRUCTURE YOUR POEM
Whether it’s formal or free verse, women have found solace in the art of poetry. If you’re looking for inspiration, turn to the genius poetry of Sylvia Plath. Just read any of her poems, and you’ll recognize the brilliance and craft of her work. Plath not only dealt with sexism, but she also battled mental health issues and was placed in a mental institution. She wrote about the discriminatory conditions she suffered in her novel, The Bell Jar, where she describes receiving electroconvulsive therapy.
If you’re looking for a free verse poem, look to Maya Angelou for inspiration. She was an amazing novelist and poet that brought light to issues such as racism and sexual abuse in her book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Her poem “Still I Rise” is a testament to the power and strength of the self. She rose against racism through her strength and resilience.
REVISE AND EDIT
You could keep the poem just for you, but as it’s a women’s empowerment poem, you most likely will want to share it with a feminist outlet such as Bitch Media or Ms. Magazine. Before you send it out, chisel the poem so that you capture the best essence of it. And of course, edit it for grammar and spelling.
From Emma Watson to Malala Yousafzai, in every country and in every nation, there is a feminist waiting to be discovered and awakened. No matter the discrimination that exists in this world, we can always rely on feminists for they are the real-life heroines that make this world better for everyone.
Featured photo: Sylvia Plath by Bettmann / Getty Images