Critical Article 2
In the article Black Feminist Discourse of Power in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, Lamia Khalil Hammad writes about how Ntozake Shange, expresses the body of the female/feminine through dance and musical expression. In her choreopoem, Shange refers to physical harm and violence such as rape to the female body. The body, “must speak and write about rape to express the issue of violence and oppression, otherwise it will not be heard (Hammad 261).” Hammad also reflects on the issues of abortion, to show how black women (all women) are oppressed; they are not only raped, but they need abortion to get out of the hegemonic male discourse. The body,“ is an entity, which shows and tells many forms of oppression (Hammad 262).” Even though it is told that the woman does not have enough power to fight back with Shange she expresses that the woman could fight back by using writing as her voice of power.
The dominant discourse, for colored girls is concerned with the idea of the woman being used for their body and Shange finally trying to express a unison voice for all colored girls. Shange writes as a woman for women trying to find a woman’s voice or and “writes the body.” Her use of language critiques literary and theatrical conventions as a means of foregrounding “the body.” Then Shange even uses the lower case consistently trying to eliminate differences in the power structure, which leaves the title, for colored girls. Shange’s general presentation of males throughout the play leaves audience seeing for colored girls as another black feminist, however, the men, most of the women become involved with, are shallow, inconsiderate, and either incapable of communicating or unwilling to communicate except through sex, violence, or verbal abuse. And, “finally, the accusation of blatant male-bashing might stem from Shange’s efforts to drive home in the ‘latent rapist’ section the complex reality of any woman’s existence: that every man is a potential rapist, that “women relinquish all personal rights / in the presence of a man / who apparently cd be considered a rapist” (Shange 20) (Hammad 261). Shange’s point is to try and acknowledged the black males oppression by a system of racial, social, and economic inequality, one cannot fail to make the men accountable for their abusive behavior. Shange’s message is, “ that some black men have nothing but their phallic object/power, an object they use on as many women as possible (Hammad 263).”
Even the poem about abortion, “abortion cycle # 1,” is not a complete indication or comment about a male doing something wrong to a female. Hammad is just stating, “The indictment is not of a male who abandons a pregnant woman (the father is not even informed of the pregnancy). Instead, it is an indictment of a society of men and women that ostracizes women who celebrate their sexuality freely, a society that makes a woman’s biology her destiny of shame (Hammad 163).” While women’s suffering in the choreopoem comes from their own weaknesses, their failed attempts to find the love Shange insistently characterizes black women as being easily tricked, and as emotionally lighthearted therefore are fooled. To an extent, the women’s emotional needs make them vulnerable but this does not mean they seek out abusive men. When the women are triumphant at the end of the play/poem they find god inthemselves, respresenting there nner strength and greater self. The independence they gain allows for physical and emotional stability for future relationships. They realize that they must love themselves before they can love fully or accept love. Shange explains, “that her “target” in for colored girls is not black men per se, but patriarchy in general, which is universal in its oppression of women. That some men feel under attack throughout the play comes as no surprise because for colored girls is a feminist piece (Hammad 164).” From Shange, we can see feminist issues viewed in different ways she is more concerned with the feminist issue as of female sexuality and how men affect it. Hammad says, “Discourse serves only those who are in power, ignoring that disadvantaged category of women who fight restlessly to gain power (Hammad 263).” Though women cannot change the relation of the male/female relationship, they can write there opinions out in words and put aside their differences to discover both weakness and strengths of each.

Hammad, Lamia Khalil. “Black Feminist Discourse of Power in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide.”

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