The Manipulation of Women



A Work of Artifice

The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning.
But a gardener
carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he
whittles back the branches
the gardener croons,
It is your nature
to be small and cozy,
domestic and weak;
how lucky, little tree,
to have a pot to grow in.
With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth:
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch.

Marge Piercy

To me, I believe this poem is trying to convey that women are capable of doing so many things, and are even able to surpass the capabilities of men. However, they are tied down by the expectations of society in their own little pot, the pot that regulates their lives and establishes rules that deform them into a perfect image. An object, so to speak. Women are expected and taught to be domestic, to concede to the demands of men. No, I’m not saying all women are taught this. But I do believe that up until now this has been a real problem and discrimination in the general population.

I was raised inside a traditional Asian family, where the males are the head of the house and the women simply listen to them with simple-minded thoughts. Do this, do that. Don’t think for yourself, don’t act outside of what I say. This was the general rule of how things went. I hated it. I didn’t want to be a domestic servant for my father and brother, but whenever I tried to speak out of what my father said I’d be shot down and then some. And then I’d look at my aunts and uncles who are 10-20 years younger, and who have an equal relationship between the men and women. Times are changing as the generations move on; I believe that is true. I believe that, at least in the area of where I live, women have more opportunities to freely express themselves and do as they please without discrimination now. However, I believe that many other women are still being oppressed within their traditional families, in which conditions are not changing as time unravels.

Why is this? From the very beginning, why were women viewed as the inferior of the human species? Why must we concede to the expectations of other men, or even other women? I honestly don’t understand, and nor do I understand why traditional families are not opening themselves up to the current times and changing their views and habits. Why must women be manipulated by the general expectations of society?

*Note: My family has mostly moved on from its traditional ways, and our past conditions are no longer a concern. I do not believe most women are being manipulated into the perfect image any longer, at least from my own experience. I simply want to know why women in the past were treated in such a way.



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