“Phenomenal Women” By Maya Angelou Reviewed by Eric Henderson
n the 1920s women were segregated, ignored, and not treated as equals, but poems like Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman challenged those ideas. Angelou uses descriptive sentences to describe why being a woman should be celebrated and that all women are beautiful. A lot of women feel very insecure and discouraged just because they are women, but Angelou tries to prove that all women are beautiful. Angelou describes her perception of her body, the interactions of people around her, and uses an iconic sentence that is repeated. In every paragraph Angelou describes her body in descriptive and empowering ways. “It’s the fire in my eyes, and the flash of my teeth, the swing in my waist, and the joy in my feet.” Angelou gives these descriptions in positive and almost seductive ways, and she implies that all women have a fire in their eyes and a flash in their smile. Angelou also describes how all women deserve to be treated as queens. “I walk into a room just as cool as you please, and to a man, the fellows stand or fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, a hive of honey bees.” This example shows that just by her walking into a room, every man falls on their knees in love with her, and that every woman deserves such attention. Finally, Angelou repeats a phrase at the end of every paragraph which describes the
importance of women. “I’m a woman phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.” This sentence encompasses the whole poem and it means that every woman is phenomenal, regardless of what they look like or social standing. When this poem was written in 1928, the most common view of women was that they are useless and just objects for men, however, this poem challenged that mindset and explained that women aren’t just objects, but rather real people and they should all be treated like queens. Today, women in America are regarded with more respect than ever in history.