“Women Want” Josh D.

While females are constantly bombarded with the male experience in history, literature, and news, males are often able to sidestep the female experience almost entirely.  In this response, however Josh not only bears witness to a female experience and the emotions therein, but he accepts and writes about it in a mature fashion and along the way finds a universal message in Addonizio’s work.  Additionally, Josh’s vocabulary and choice of quotes to support his ideas are well chosen and further his insights.  It is truly well done. – JY

What Do Women Want?

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

-Kim Addonizio


There’s nothing better than a woman who doesn’t abide by the norm. A girl who doesn’t care what people think, who’s free-spirited, and defiant. This revelation comes from Kim Addonizio’s poem “What Do Women Want?” In this poem we read Addonizio tell the tale of a girl who seems to have given up on trying to please everyone, and wants to let loose. This girl is defiant and sexy, yet seems to be angry with society. This girl has decided to be who she wants to be, and let herself go.

This poem resurrects feelings of admiration in me, due to the manner of this woman’s behavior. She has done what most people attempt to do throughout their entire lives, but seem to be too afraid to do: be themselves.  The woman states, “I want it to confirm / your worst fears about me / to show you how little I care about you / or anything except what I want”(18-21). This seems like a statement of utter carelessness. She has stopped caring about others, and trying to please others, and simply become herself, trying to please only herself. This is something that most people strive to do. Remember all those times you saw a shirt, or a pair of shoes you wanted but then thought, “What will people think?” Then you decide that you should get a different, more normal pair or shirt to fit in better. The human mind seems to always try to do what makes you fit in best, to be unnoticeable, or noticeable in a good way. But this woman, she has finally become herself, and let go of society’s outlooks on her, and just wants to have a good time.

Now, I believe the poem has a deeper meaning, like all poems, than it seems to have at first glance.  I think Adonnizio is trying to convey a different message than just showing a woman that doesn’t care. I think Adonnizio is trying to say through her character that she is disgusted about how the way women are judged in modern times. They can’t be themselves without being judged by some man, or called this and that, and be degraded. Adonnizio narrator is trying to get across a message that women need to be who they want to be, and not just fit in, because they’re afraid to be judged. In the poem, it says, “I want a red dress / I want it flimsy and cheap / I want it too tight, I want to wear it / until someone tears it off me”(1-4). This is the narrator’s way of saying that women need to let go, like the woman in this poem. They need to be who they want to be, do what they want to do, and who cares what people say? Like yourself for who you are, not what people want you to be. This poem is a message to woman around the world, to be yourselves.

Photo credit: Jason Hargrove via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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