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Marginalized Women in Duffy's Poetry

  • Date Submitted: 08/01/2010 04:42 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 54.3 
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Refering closely to 2 or 3 poems, discuss how Duffy presents marginalised women in her poetry.

Duffy presents to us an image of marignalised women in “Standing Female Nude” and “Big Sue and Now Voyager” using sexual themes and images, and representing them as being victims. In these poems, the women live on the fringe of society and their physical appearance, identity, self-perception and role is constantly being interrogated by the demands and desires of a patriarchal society. These women are often in a position where they are under the power of men but at the same time they show a concerted effort in struggling to regain control of their lives.

In both these poems, marginalized women are objectified by the male gaze. In “Standing female nude”, the prostitute is objectified as an object of the artist’s sexual desires when he experiences and erection while yearning for the warmth of her body. She is also represented as a mere “river-whore” by the artist as it is in his power to decide how he wishes to represent her in the painting and it is this perspective of her being a cheap, low-life which he wishes to express. Furthermore, Duffy has used the title of the poem to bring attention to the objectification of the prostitute. The title reveals nothing about the identity of the prostitute but only offers us a vision of a posture of “standing” and the unclothed state she is in.   In “Big Sue and Now Voyager”, the namesake of the title of the poem is objectified by the banal nick name that has been branded on her. Once again, she is objectified based only on her physical appearance, which is that of being fat and unflattering. The two poems show us instances of how men objectify and brand women based on their physical appearance. This is a way in which men exercise the power they possess in a patriarchal society over women as such branding is able to alter the perceptions people have of these women and affect the representation of reality.

Men also exercise...


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