Girl By Jamaica Kincaid: The Insignificance Of Women In Society
In Jamaica Kincaid’s poem, Girl, it briefly explains the relationship between a mother and a daughter; moreover, targeting women’s role in society. The dialogue between the mother and daughter reveals what to do to keep the right image growing up and not to become a slut. As the story goes on, it seems to be a list of never-ending demands a woman in general needs to abide by. These expectations the mother tells the girl is not only reflecting their culture but expands to women’s sexuality everywhere. The significance of only letting the girl talk twice in the story, and the requirement of specific tasks a woman should follow shows how society’s influence on women will always be unfair.
In the poem, the author mentions the demeaning consequences of not doing what the mother is saying. These consequences are being looked at as a slut, as the author continuously states, ‘prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming’. Explaining that the girl would want to become one if she did not follow what her mother is so persistent in telling her what to do. Additionally, it sounds as if this stigma of women becoming sluts because of the way they act, has been around even when the mother was a young teen. Unfortunately for years, it was expected for women to be conservative with their bodies and always be at home. This belief further explains the reason why her mother would even be having this conversation with her daughter. As it has become the norm to talk to young women about what society thinks their role should be.
As for the girl’s dialogue, she only spoke up twice in the whole poem. One of the things the girls say is, ‘but I don’t sing benna on Sundays at all and never in Sunday school’. Only letting the girl talk twice in the whole poem represents the power women have when speaking up in society. The mother already believes what others tell her when she did not even give the girl a chance to explain. Even in the title, GIRL, it shows how they see women as cultivated and little girls, meaning that compared to men, women are insignificant when, in reality, women genuinely hold the most power. For example, in nature, the female is always the stronger gender when it comes to leading a group, such as the queen bee. It happens to show that society will always try to bring women down, and judge them harshly to make men become the ones on top.
Women’s sexuality is an essential issue in this short story as it explains the mother telling the girl to use proper presentation in front of men. The author states, ‘this is how you love a man, and if this doesn’t work, there are other ways’. Implying that sex would be another way to get a man to love you. Women being sexual contradicts the mother’s prevention of the girl becoming and looking like a slut. It comes back to the problem that it is society judging what women do and say out loud. Women should not be proud or say the things they do behind doors to prevent the community from calling them a promiscuous woman. Since women know this has been ongoing adversity, many try to change this belief, hoping to avoid being called derogatory names because of the actions they choose to do.
The poem essentially shows the mother and daughter explaining the restrictions put on a girl up until when she becomes a woman. The girl’s sexuality is demeaning and put into a place where she is not allowed to express the way she feels unless it is behind doors. If the girl or a woman, in general, does not follow what is being said by the mother, she will eventually become what society hates the most, a slut.
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