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 Lydia Forti
Pretty pink girls with pretty pink bows,
Look how she sparkles, look how she glows!
Her fresh virginal face, her purity shows
Safe from young men, her father knows!
Pretty pink women with pretty pink dreams,
Talking together and plotting their schemes.
How to catch the eye of the prettiest boy,
Makeup and lies tie into their ploy.
Pretty pink sinners with pretty pink sins,
Believing that sex is the greatest of things,
The people around her wearing her thin,
That she must lose what she “loves” to be everything.
Ugly pink people with ugly pink smiles,
She came home and cried on her bathroom tiles,
She lost her power because it was the latest style,
Now all she has is shame and useless denial
Ugly pink women with ugly pink cheeks,
Who knew that lack of purity could feel so bleak?
“Don’t you know your virginity is the only power you have?”
Her mother’s words making her weak.
Ugly pink girl in a pretty pink pose,
Look how she saddens as she grows!
Her sexuality was the road she (wanted and) chose,
Now her mother tells her every day what she owes!
Lydia Forti is 17 years old and lives in Boston with her parents. Her passions are music and mathematics.