The Silence of Women: a reading response

I got an A on this paper. Thought I’d share it, though, reading it almost two months later, there’s some changes I’d make. Stylistically, I like it.

The “Silence of Women” speaks to me in a way that opens my heart and bares my soul. The oppression and control of women through intimidation, diminished rights and subjugation shakes me to the core. I see it, even subtly in text and reply. I see it, permeating the books our children read. It saturates media, including those made for innocence. I see it, even when it’s not there. It has overwhelmed my senses and clouding my judgment. My life has played this record over and over. My mother sang me that song as a child, and again as an adult escaping that same oppressive torment. My heart aches for the suffered and for the time when it will stop.

Oppression is apparent in this poem when Rosenberg writes “the chicken hatching back into the egg.” A chick escaping the confines of an egg is converting from a prisoner to a free entity. This line reverses that image. It creates a contrast of reversal in its metaphor. Freedom is lost for the chicken when the egg envelops it. The egg hatches—or engenders—obtaining the woman for encasement, oppressing her, excluding her from the freedom the men inherently enjoy. This oppression, though not as common in 1994, is the chest we beat against and the egg shell we fight back.

In that “baritone storm” she loses her voice amongst the men’s. Her silence is lost in the storm of oppression, required silence—no matter how loudly she laments. The baritone is the man, the leader, the controller of her movement, of her voice. She calls out against it and loses the power she expels as the baritone storm swirls and encompasses her. I can imagine her voice (read plea) barely audible at arm’s length due to the gusts of men’s voices (read rights) overwhelming her.

The instrument she’s using to amplify her voice is disabled. It can’t persevere in the storm, the prevalence of men’s rights. It “must make music” or it’ll lose all hope. No matter how strong the storm gets, how overpowering and intimidating the baritones get, her voice can’t stop. Giving up isn’t an option. No matter how angry she gets. No matter how her bones get weak with age. No matter her frail state. She must call out against her oppressors and demand to be heard. Relenting means death. Relenting means finding herself encased back in the egg. Her instrument, though broken, cannot be forfeited. It must keep trying “any way it can”.

This poem calls to women to be the voice, to carry the instrument, to persist, to not be that angry old lady with osteoporosis snapping and hissing at her husband after years of compliance. Women must speak up, say the important things, even if it will fall on deaf ears. To not get to the point of being recoiled snakes ready to strike. And my heart cries for the women to speak up, to take back their lives, to stop the cycle of perpetuating oppression. The children, boys and girls, must not hear the songs of control and oppression. The cycle must end with us.

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