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


Isn’t this supposed to be one of those eternal questions? What *do* women want, anyway? The same things that men do, sometimes. Different things, sometimes.

The question is a strange one, if you think about it – no one asks what men want as though they were all one homogenous entity, and that’s only the beginning of the problem with this kind of question. This poem addresses the universal in the specifics of what this particular woman wants.

Hear the poem being read out here.

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  1. Bibi

    “to show you how little I care about you
    or anything except what
    I want.”
    I refuse to agree that trait in a woman. They are more caring than men.

    Posted April 2, 2011 at 01:38 | Permalink | Reply
    • Madhu

      Hm. Perhaps. But I think the poet was trying to say that she was a person first and a woman next, or something like that. And that too often what the woman in the poem wanted was buried under everything else that had to be done, or other people’s needs or wants. I could be reading too much into the tone, though, but that’s the sense I got.

      Posted April 4, 2011 at 21:57 | Permalink

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