Study Guide

homage to my hips Women and Femininity

By Lucille Clifton

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Women and Femininity

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. (1-5)

The "petty places" the speaker references are a metaphor for the petty aspects of society which try to judge the speaker (and maybe even women in general) by fitting her into small, limiting stereotypes.

these hips
are free hips. (6-7)

In many ways, this poem enacts the process of a woman taking control of her own body – and by extension, her own life. She's free, just like her hips are free.

they don't like to be held back. (8)

Clifton's making an oblique reference here to a rather long history of repression, when women had less access to education, jobs, and all sorts of opportunities for advancement.

these hips are magic hips. (13)

Believe it or not, women's bodies have frequently been described as "bewitching," which hasn't always been a good thing. Once again, Clifton's reclaiming a negative view of women's sexuality and re-inscribing it as a powerful part of the speaker's self-image.

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