I am not that Woman By Kishwar Naheed


I Am Not That Woman is a poem advocating for women’s liberation. By examining the treatment of women in a variety of eastern cultures, Naheed boldly concludes that women are oppressed and deserve respect. You can read the full poem here. I Am Not That Woman compares both overt and covert forms of female oppression in contemporary culture. Naheed makes the case that women deserve respect and are not commodities through a somewhat feminist worldview. Women are clearly repressed throughout a major portion of the east, where they are imprisoned behind closed doors and told they can never achieve anything in life. While this cannot be extended to all countries and cities, many eastern civilizations retain this mentality to this day. While this overt persecution may not exist in the west, Naheed asserts that women are victimised covertly in western cultures through their worth being related to their bodies. Women’s beauty is frequently exploited in ads in order to promote a range of items, and Naheed makes an excellent point that this is also a form of oppression. Connecting a woman’s worth and self-esteem to her body is in and of itself an act of oppression. I am not that Woman is an inspirational poetry that reminds the world that women deserve respect, and even more crucially, that women should value and proudly respect themselves.

I am not that Woman Analysis

The opening stanza discusses women’s persecution in both western and eastern cultures. Naheed adopts the voice of a female character, which can easily be interpreted as her own, particularly given her origins in the eastern hemisphere. She is adamantly opposed to being identified as the woman who sells socks and shoes. This is a term that refers to a model or actress who agrees to be shot in expensive apparel in order to promote a commercial product. In today’s society, especially for women, showing one’s body has become a means of eliciting amazement and acclaim from others around us. Almost every girl in the western world, if not the entire world, is obsessed with improving her external appearance in order to flaunt it when she goes out. Naheed focuses on this point, attempting to demonstrate that compelling a woman to believe her self-worth is inextricably related to her body is a powerful type of oppression that we as a culture are failing to confront. She then discusses the oppression that occurs in the east, which is equally, if not more, repulsive. Men confine women to their homes and deny them access to the outside world. Even a woman going alone outside is considered impolite and disgraceful in the more severe districts of the east. While it is logical that males would keep their wives within to protect them from the perils of the street, Naheed is emphasising that women are kept indoors because they are considered inferior and a burden. Women are completely objectified to the point where they are no longer considered persons, but merely means of pleasure and fulfilment. Naheed highlights the hypocritical aspect of men being allowed to walk anywhere they like without regard or regard for others, but women are actually confined behind stone in an attempt to quiet their minds.

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Naheed takes an uplifting stance, comparing womankind to a beacon of light in the night. She asserts that no matter how hard the men try to keep her inside, no matter how hard they try to replace her flowers of hope and aspiration with thorns and chains of contempt and oppression, they will be unable to silence her mind, because she is not the type of woman who can be duped into believing that she is only worth her beauty, that her body defines her status as someone who is somehow inferior to men. Naheed employs a metaphor in the second stanza, referring to herself, or rather, to all womankind, as light. Additionally, Naheed used symbolism here, alluding to her character as the flowers in her lap and the limits and harsh words directed at her as embers and chains.

While the third and fourth stanzas appear to refer to a lady literally sold into slavery, a closer investigation of eastern culture reveals that Naheed is referring to forced marriages. Daughters and women are regarded a burden in eastern society since they lack career options and are thus completely dependent on their carers for the most, if not the entirety, of their life. More importantly, when a girl is’married off” by her parents, her parents are expected to provide a sizable dowry to the groom, which frequently amounts to thousands of dollars worth of furniture and clothing. Women are viewed as a burden in eastern cultures for this reason. Naheed is nearly vehement in asserting that they trade off women, telling them it is not pure to remain unmarried for an extended period of time, and cheerfully absolving themselves of further financial support. She asserts that while this female ego may have been coerced into drowning by being sold as a burden in marriage, she continues to reject their characterization of her. She can walk on water while drowning is a lovely metaphor for her refusal to give up in the face of apparent insurmountable odds. She will not be suffocated by their doubts and assertions about her ability. Naheed closes the fourth stanza by noting that the enslaved minds of those who degrade women will never be liberated. They may be attempting to suffocate her mind, but they are also suffocating their own.

The final stanza elaborates on the feminine persona’s refusal to be that half-naked woman advertising items on a billboard. She is expressing her refusal to degrade herself and her body, to objectify it for the sake of others. She declares that she will now let her character to bloom freely by honouring herself as a mother and a chaste human being.

I Am Not That Woman is a liberating poem emphasising the need of women of all cultures respecting themselves and resisting all forms of oppression. Naheed demystifies the pernicious worldview prevalent in many eastern civilizations, which views women as mere burdens and things. Naheed Instills the notion that women are mothers, that they are a beacon of light in the darkness, and that they are so much more than their bodies. Naheed encourages us to focus on what is within of us and to respect our bodies and who we are as individuals, especially in this superficial culture.

Poetic Devices

There are numerous loud consonant sounds in this poem. Consider the frequency with which the letter C occurs. On the verge of being a cacophony, one might almost say. Additionally, the varied line lengths contribute to this impression of discord, which contributes to the poem’s tone. The poem employs figurative language to create several potent and compelling metaphors. For instance, the first stanza has the line “free as the breeze.” This is a personification example.

Questions and Answers

Q. 1. How has been women portrayed by the poet?


Describe the theme of I am not that woman.

Answer: The poem ‘I am not that Woman‘ portrays a woman who has been exploited by society. It is possible that her father, brother, or even mother-in-law stifled her. She was confined to the house’s four walls. Her activities were limited to home duties. Nobody listened to her voice. She was suffocated in the sake of superfluous customs and traditions. According to the speaker, people took advantage of her by taking flowers and replacing them with thorns and ashes. The speaker uses the picture of a linked flower. She was purchased and sold under the guise of chastity. She was treated inhumanely. Even her parents viewed her as a burden, resulting in an early marriage. Women were viewed more as a commodity to be exchanged than as human beings, jeopardising their virginity, motherhood, and loyalty. Thus, the poem deftly illustrates multiple modes of female subjugation and suppression.

Q.2.  How does the poem bring out the hidden potential and rebellion spirit of  the speaker?
Answer: The speaker is acutely aware of her exploitative situation. She is adamant about not being identified with the woman on the poster who sells socks and shoes. She is opposed to women being viewed as commodities in a male-dominated society. She wishes to remind and warn the exploiter that, despite her concealment behind the walls, her voice cannot be silenced. While she is aware that the oppressor is as free as the wind, she is crushed under the weight of customs and traditions. She asserts that darkness cannot conceal light. The speaker discusses motherhood. The exploiter removed flowers off her lap and replaced them with thorns and ashes. She rebels, claiming that chains are incapable of suffocating her smell. The society treated her as a commodity, purchasing and selling her on the basis of her chastity. Despite the fact that she can walk on water while drowning, she is married off in order to relieve herself of a burden. She asserts that a nation with enslaved minds cannot be liberated. She is not interested in being treated solely for the sake of chastity, motherhood, and loyalty. She wishes to assert herself and demonstrate that she possesses a distinct identity and life. Thus, the poem brings out the speaker’s hidden potential and rebellious spirit, who was formerly compelled to succumb to her oppressor’s desires and wishes.

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