Maya Angelou

(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)

In All Ways A Woman - Poem by Maya Angelou

In my young years I took pride in the fact that luck was called a lady. In fact, there were so few public acknowledgments of the female presence that I felt personally honored whenever nature and large ships were referred to as feminine. But as I matured, I began to resent being considered a sister to a changeling as fickle as luck, as aloof as an ocean, and as frivolous as nature. The phrase 'A woman always has the right to change her mind' played so aptly into the negative image of the female that I made myself a victim to an unwavering decision. Even if I made an inane and stupid choice, I stuck by it rather than 'be like a woman and change my mind.'

Being a woman is hard work. Not without joy and even ecstasy, but still relentless, unending work. Becoming an old female may require only being born with certain genitalia, inheriting long-living genes and the fortune not to be run over by an out-of-control truck, but to become and remain a woman command the existence and employment of genius.

The woman who survives intact and happy must be at once tender and tough. She must have convinced herself, or be in the unending process of convincing herself, that she, her values, and her choices are important. In a time a nd world where males hold sway and control, the pressure upon women to yield their rights-of-way is tremendous. And it is under those very circumstances that the woman's toughness must be in evidence.

She must resist considering herself a lesser version of her male counterpart. She is not a sculptress, poetess, authoress, Jewess, Negress, or even (now rare) in university parlance a rectoress. If she is the thing, then for her own sense of self and for the education of the ill-informed she must insist with rectitude in being the thing and in being called the thing.

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a woman called by a devaluing name will only be weakened by the misnomer. She will need to prize her tenderness and be able to display it at appropriate times in order to prevent toughness from gaining total authority and to avoid becoming a mirror image of those men who value power above life, and control over love.

It is imperative that a woman keep her sense of humor intact and at the ready. She must see, even if only in secret, that she is the funniest, looniest woman in her world, which she should also see as being the most absurd world of all times. It has been said that laughter is therapeutic and amiability lengthens the life span. Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible, and live long lives. The struggle for equality continues unabated, and the woman warrior who is armed with wit and courage will be among the first to celebrate victory.

Comments about In All Ways A Woman by Maya Angelou

  • (7/4/2018 9:52:00 PM)

    A powerful statement that helps me realise how easy it is to allow myself to be diminished. Thank you. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (7/4/2018 6:48:00 AM)

    Nice and inspiring piece. (Report) Reply

  • (6/9/2018 5:34:00 PM)

    This poem is so deep but also so true. It is hard to be strong yet sensitive, and be able to laugh at yourself too. (Report) Reply

  • (4/8/2018 7:41:00 AM)

    My Utmost favorite Maya Angelou poem (Report) Reply

  • (2/28/2018 4:44:00 PM)

    Thank you for sharing this wisdom. This is good life advice for all, but especially for women, who possess and wield a particular strength. (Report) Reply

  • (1/24/2018 8:00:00 PM)

    Much of what was said could apply to both genders in today's world. (Report) Reply

  • (12/19/2017 11:43:00 AM)

    Hmmmm. This is a good advice for women. (Report) Reply

  • (6/19/2017 11:16:00 PM)

    This is a very generalised discussion of what it means to be a woman. Little or no allowance for each individual woman. I question 'the struggle for equality continues unabated, '-so many men are nowhere equal with
    women. Stereotypes say nothing about individuals.
    (Report) Reply

  • Mysia Hayling (8/3/2016 9:45:00 AM)

    love this poem it explores some of the challenges women face but a wonderful piece. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/9/2016 7:13:00 AM)

    Being a woman. Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

Read all 10 comments »

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 9, 2016

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