Rivalry between Women and Men

My poem represents the mass amount of female stereotypes that regard women as less important and less powerful than men. Our society favors masculinity and the attributes that are attached to the male gender. This leads to the overall disrespect of females. The stereotypes of women (weak, emotional) are mainly considered negative while the typical stereotypes of men (simple, strong, competitive) are considered powerful, making them socially acceptable as the superior sex.

Often when stereotypes towards women such as ‘they cant drive’ are said, it is not always considered rude at the time and usually gets the response of humor. When these stereotypical terms are brought together in one place, it reveals how the mass amount of demeaning stereotypes truly disrespect women. Such as the rivalry between accepted stereotypes, the search for equality is a never ending war. Men and women will never be widely considered as equal because of societies favorable perception of men.

The sixth line of the poem symbolizes the power that men have. Even when women are involved and stand out, they aren’t perceived as capable and as bold as men are. Discrimination is still wide spread even after all of the achievements we have progressed towards over the years.


The Complications of History

Through her writing, M. NourbeSe Philip expresses the many layers of material that history carries on its back. While reading her poems, one could analyze multiple layers of context. The style that Philip writes in depicts the thoughts and feelings of the Africans on board the Zong. As she relies on the written law of the Zong case to write her story, Philip humanizes the African who had previously been dehumanized by being considered property, which is “not capable of being murdered” (Philip 191). The African people on board the Zong were stripped of their own names, only referred to as “negroe woman, man, or girl.” Their financial value for insurance purposes were recorded instead (Philip 194).

By relying on the Gregson vs. Gilbert case, Philip “tells the story that must be told” (Philip 189).  The story that is such a monstrosity but is not necessarily taught in schools or made known, besides through the poems that Philip strategically pieced together. The slave ship, Zong, set sail from the West Coast of Africa in 1781, heading towards Jamaica and steered by Captain Luke Collingwood. Due to navigational errors, the voyage took nearly an extra two months (Philip 189). This setback caused the ship to deplete in water and food supply. Once slaves began dying of dehydration or throwing themselves off the ship, the Captain gave orders to forcibly throw slaves overboard. 150 Africans were then thrown into the seas, in hopes to collect insurance money due to the “loss of cargo”.

When reading the first poem, confusion and panic immediately erupts. Trying to understand the meaning while rereading and arranging words is equivalent to the senselessness of the slave trade. Philip breaks down these sentences and words to convey the true feelings and thoughts of the Africans who were being sold off against their will. The spaces in the text represent the absence In the Africans voices, freedom, and bodies.  The fragmented text symbolizes the mutilation that slavery brought upon Africans lives (Philip 195). The random selection of phrases or words represents the random selection of Africans for enslavement (Philip 192). Philip compares the interest that slave owners have in their slaves working together with her interest in her randomly selected words working together (Philip 193). The style of poem requires the reader to make sense of them, leaving questions unanswered, and forcing meaning into the fragments.


What do you think that Philip is trying to convey through her style of writing these poems?

What feelings or emotions do you experience when reading?



Hi, my name is Katrina. I’m a Senior and will be turning 21 on the 9th. I’m from Syracuse and majoring in Sociology with a minor in History. I love reading books and going hiking or to the beach. I also really enjoy cooking and baking.