Liberating Words: “Woman”

The poems in our ongoing “Liberating Words” series were written in an interdisciplinary course for high school juniors at The Winsor School, an all-girls school in Boston, Mass. The course, “The Personal Is Political: An Interdisciplinary Look at Feminism,” is co-taught by Libby Parsley, a History teacher, and Susanna Ryan, an English teacher. The second unit of the course focuses on the history and literature of second-wave feminism—the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. Students read a compilation of poems by women writers from that period and then wrote their own poems; the assignment asked them to represent an issue or problem they see as central to 21st-century women’s experience through the very personal genre of poetry.

by Elaine Chen

It stood on stiletto pedestals
In the corner of the square—
Tried to hide in the corner of the square,
But the people gathered round it to stare.

Too loud, they hollered.
And too quiet.

Too fat, they poked.
And too skinny.   It

Coos too little
Works too much


Works too little
Cries too much.

Is it even a woman
Or is it Schrödinger’s cat? 

Elaine Chen is a junior at the Winsor School in Boston. Her mother is the strongest, most fearless woman she knows.



Lia Kornmehl is a junior at the Winsor School who is passionate about jazz music, milk chocolate, and equal opportunities for women in the workplace.