Analyzing Bukowski’s “A Poem for the Playgirls for the Universe”

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Charles Bukowski is a poet and writer. (Anthony Venutolo)

Charles Bukowski is a poet and writer. (Anthony Venutolo)

Earlier this week I came across a post on a dear friend’s Facebook. It was “A Poem for the Playgirls of the Universe,” a piece by Charles Bukowski about the value held by women who haven’t been “rubbed raw by experience.”

I found myself offended by the content of the poem and not because I consider myself attacked by the message directly but because I felt like the authority women hold over their love lives was undermined by the idea of esteem based on “choosing men sparingly.”

Bukowski says that he prefers women who do not have a veteran experience in the love field or the men field for that matter. He says that the most attractive women are those who do not have much experience with men and he goes on to talk about how this lack of experience is visible through physical female attributes – as if you could in reality tell an experienced lover from one who has been with the same man her entire life. This idea in itself was intrusive for me as a woman who happens to appreciate the experience the opposite sex realm has provided me with.

I was surprised to see people commenting on his post with positive feedback like “are you in love?” or “great stuff!” and questioned whether I was over exaggerating my reaction. However, I went on to read other posts similar to this and found that some women were actually finding this poem lovely while others were appalled by its moral.

One of the excerpts I found online was from where it highlights and interprets the following stanza:

“There is a quality about women who have chosen
men sparingly;
it appears in their walk
in their eyes
in their laughter and in
their gentleness.”

In other words, “There is a difference between women who are easy and women of moral character. Not only on the inside, but their innocence shines through in all that they do.” On the website I could go into every single one of these stanzas and break down the contradictions with today’s modern dating rituals and sex roles but I feel that this stanza will do for now.

Bukowski along with my good friend, through this poem, belittle the power women have nowadays to live their lives as they please and not be held to an “Uptown Abbey” type of moral guidelines. I think we are at the point where women can and should date as many men as they wish, because it is through this that they will learn what it is that they like and what it is that they want.

The time for women sheltered from men is behind us along with arranged marriages and chastity belts.

Today, a woman can both be your boss and your loving partner; there are no more limits to what we can do and how to get through our lives.

There is already too much pressure on our girls to get married and have children and be a good housewife for us to stand over them with a pointed finger and expect them to grow into mature and independent individuals.

Independency is worked for and in order to fulfill it to its fullest, one must experience life in the same way, to the fullest. You should try different jobs before you settle on one or find one that makes you happy and this applies to dating as well.

This entire idea of keeping yourself from exploration simply because men in society do not approve is old and dusty and does not belong in the midst of today’s uprising feminist population.

Women, we are grown, we are hard working and we have gotten this far because of our experience, so why limit your sexuality and risk settling for a socially acceptable version of yourself in your love life.

I ran this poem and its point by two male acquaintances and the responses I received from both of them were astounding. One was a virgin and believed that women should save themselves in order to be respected and loved by a male counterpart. However, the one that had been “rubbed raw” by experience believed that a woman who knew what she wanted when she got to him was something very high on his dating requisites.

Why the extreme difference in these men’s opinions? Well, it all lies in their own experience, those who believe ignorance is bliss might just be suffering from a lack of experience and those whom hold ignorance as a prerequisite for their own love life are just suffering from a missing identity.

With that I say to women everywhere, don’t ignore your identity, your likes and dislikes simply because you don’t want people to judge the purity in your step, be bold and be curious and explore the world around you.

Jacqueline Martinez is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter: @Jaymar0824
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