The Critique of Females in the Poems Women by Louise Bogan and The One Girl At the Boys Party by Sharon Olds

Category: Adolescence, Gender
Last Updated: 14 Nov 2022
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In the poems Women by Louise Bogan and The One Girl At the Boy's Party by Sharon Olds, they both describe their own critique of females, envisioning a common character that is constituent of women. Bogan's perception of women entails a stereotype from the perspective of a man, who generalizes the whole gender as “they”, pointing out their faults through limited capabilities. “They wait, when they should turn to journeys / they stiffen, when they should bend. / They use against themselves that benevolence / to which no man is friend." (Bogan 10 -14). The aggressive tone is used to describe how the habits of women is self deprecating, in that they are often incapable when put into a situation, that their benevolence is used against themselves and builds upon naivety. In Olds' poem however, the narrator describes the maturity of her daughter, in that her qualities as a person and as a woman are recognized and acknowledged. “They tower and / bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek / her math scores unfolding in the air around her.” (Olds 2-4). The girl, a proficient math student, works math problems in her head as the males surround her, observing the nature of her femininity. The tone used throughout the poem contrasts heavily with that of Woman is cast as a diatribe which seems to attack and demean females, whereas Olds admires the positive aspects of a woman's character.

Both poems examine the features of women, comparing similarities to that of their own expectation of other grown women. "...and they will / see her sweet face, solemn and / sealed, a factor of one, and she will / see their eyes, two each / their legs, and the curves of their sexes/ one each, and in her head she'll be doing her / wild multiplying, as the drops / sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body.” (Olds 15-22). The girl is adorned for her qualities as a maturing woman, who is recognized for the appeal of her face, legs and curves, and in return, recognizes the virility of the males around her. This associates her expressive maturation of the girl by the sophistication of mind and sexuality, thus exhibiting her progression as an adult. In comparison, Olds also describes his paradigm for female mannerisms, that (they are) "...content in the tight hot cells of their hearts.” (Bogan 3).

The narrator explains that women are comfortable living within the reclusion of their own emotions, devoid of any desire to explore the environment outside the bounds of their satisfaction. Thus, since both poems entail the parallelism akin to all women, it follows that they similarly circumnavigate the common habits shared among them as well. Old's description of her daughter utilizes an empowering tone to champion her transition through adolescence, showcasing the significance of a woman's coming of age. “When they climb out, / her ponytail will hang its pencil lead / down her back...” (Olds 10-13). She surfaces the physical attributes of the girl, focusing attention to the sprouting of her sexuality. The daughter's development emphasizes her This contrasts heavily with Bogan's denigration of women, stating that “Women have no wilderness in them” (Bogan 1), and “They cannot think of so many crops to a field” (Bogan 12). He attacks the feminist gender paradigm, explaining that they neither wild nor practical enough,that they are completely domesticated, thus formally asserting their incompetence. Its as if theses emotions prisons their capabilities, lessening their value as people.

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Old's promotes the feminine qualities that are surfaced through the maturation of her daughter, while Bogan belittles those feminine qualities entirely. Both poems are similarly concerned with the progression or retrogression of women, yet protest differing perspectives. As the author's daughter is growing, her physical attributes appear more prominent, revealing the importance of femininity, whereas Bogan derogates their significance altogether, generalizing their ineptitude as people. The poems ultimately together create a paradox of opposing antithetical positions which materialize the substance and character of women through their own frame of reference.

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The Critique of Females in the Poems Women by Louise Bogan and The One Girl At the Boys Party by Sharon Olds. (2022, Nov 14). Retrieved from

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