Danielle Sidoti

Ex 4: Oral Presentation (Scholarly Analysis of a Poem)

by on Mar.30, 2015, under Uncategorized

For my Oral Presentation, I used the poem, “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy. Written in 1982, this poem tackles the gender expectations of women, and how detrimental they can be upon a young girl. The strongest expectation in this poem is the expectation of a girl to be pretty and skinny. Why we still have this expectation today, I am not sure, especially with thousands upon thousands of girls suffering from eating disorders every day. The title of this poem is probably the strongest example of this expectation; “a Barbie doll has terribly unrealistic and dangerous body proportions that would be impossible for anyone to achieve. This perfection is exactly what the girl in the poem is trying so desperately to get.” Other expectations presented in the poem are being “advised to be coy” (Piercy 12) and to go “to and fro apologizing” (Piercy 9-10) for emitting any sexuality whatsoever. According to Foster, the “world contains many things, and on the level of society, part of what it contains is the political reality of the time—power structures, relations among classes, issues of justice and rights, interactions between the sexes and among various racial and ethnic constituencies” (261-262). These interactions are questioned further by the question “what would this poem be like and what would it say about our society if it were called ‘G.I.Joe’?” (Perrin 84). Piercy’s poem is no longer just a statement against gender expectations for women, but for all expectations based on something as trivial as “gender”.

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Works Cited

Foster, Thomas C. “It’s All Political.” How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines. New York: Harper Perennial, 2003. 249-64. Print.

Perrin, Robert. “`Barbie Doll’ and `G.I. Joe’: Exploring Issues of Gender.” English Journal 88.3 (1999): 83. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.

Piercy, Marge. “Barbie Doll.” Circles on the Water. New York: Knopf ,1982.

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