How Rupi Kaur is Redefining Gender Roles and Giving Women A Voice One Poem at a Time

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Women have been stereotyped for centuries. We are supposed to be, react and lead our lives a certain way—a way that society approves of. But modern poetry is uninhibited and bold. It rebels against societal norms and redefines gender roles, giving women a voice.

One of my favorite writers who is redefining the global social norms with their literary poetry is Rupi Kaur. To me, Rupi, is the symbol of feminism and boldness. From beautiful poems to unabashed illustrations, Rupi’s work redefines traditional gender roles. Here’s a look at 5 poems by Rupi Kaur that I absolutely love:

i am water
soft enough
to offer life
tough enough
to drown it away

This poem is full of fearlessness and speaks to me in so many ways. It tells me that ‘I can.’ I have found myself in not one, but many circumstances where I’ve felt the need to remind myself that I need to take a stand, sometimes at work and sometimes in my personal life—when I have been judged for being the “softer sex”.

i had to leave
i was tired of
allowing you to
make me feel
anything less
than whole

This poem embodies what feminism means to me. I love how she writes “I had to leave”—this is a confident, strong statement made with authority and no doubts.

This poem is a reminder that no one should be allowed to inflict pain upon us. Rupi is not only reaffirming and bold in this poem but she is also pensive, inspiring us to look inward and take action.

i am learning
how to love him
by loving myself

I grew up in India where the representation of women’s sexuality in cinema and media has suffered for a long time. We don’t talk about it, we don’t have proper education about it, and in fact, we love to pretend that women do not have desires and exist to produce children. For me, this poem coming from the pen of a female writer of Indian origin (I can almost hear the gasps of Indian aunties) is a big deal.

if you were born with
the weakness to fall
you were born with
the strength to rise

This is my go-to poem. Whenever I am feeling low or going through a bad phase, I read these lines and they empower me. I think this is one poem that should be on the walls of every home as an #everydayinspiration.

removing all the hair
off your body is okay
if that’s what you want to do
just as much as keeping all the hair
on your body is okay
if that’s what you want to do
-you belong only to yourself

Rupi Kaur shuns both stereotyping and body shaming in these honest and effortless lines. One of my friends recently struggled with whether or not to shave in between her eyebrows. Some women at work had been teasing her about it, and she felt compelled to shave even though she didn’t want to. I shared this poem with her, and she was able to walk confidently into her office, despite others’ comments.

All these wonderful lines are from Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey. I think that everyone should read this book—and not only women, but men too. milk and honey is a journey of love, heartbreak and healing that breaks down stereotypes and empowers women to redefine their existence by being themselves.

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