'Sex Goddess' by Maggie Estep

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so don't mess with me

I've got a big bag full of SEX TOYS

and you can't have any

'cause they're all mine

'cause I'm


"Hey," you may say to yourself,

"who the hell's she tryin' to kid,

she's no sex goddess,"

But trust me,

I am

if only for the fact that I have

the unabashed gall

to call

myself a SEX GODDESS,

I mean, after all,

it's what so many of us have at some point thought,

we've all had someone

who worshipped our filthy socks

and barked like a dog when we were near

giving us cause

to pause and think: You know, I may not look like much

but deep inside, I am a SEX GODDESS.


we'd never come out and admit it publicly

well, you wouldn't admit it publicly

but I will

because I am


I haven't always been


I used to be just a mere mortal woman

but I grew tired of sexuality being repressed

then manifest

in late night 900 number ads

where 3 bodacious bimbettes

heave cleavage into the camera's winking lens and sigh:

"Big Girls oooh, Bad Girls oooh, Blonde Girls oooh,

you know what to do, call 1-900-UNMITIGATED BIMBO ooooh."


I got fed up with the oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh

I got fed up with it all

so I put on my combat boots

and hit the road with my bag full of SEX TOYS

that were a vital part of my SEX GODDESS image

even though I would never actually use


'cause my being a SEX GODDESS

it isn't a SEXUAL thing

it's a POLITICAL thing

I don't actually have SEX, no

I'm too busy taking care of



I gotta go on The Charlie Rose Show

and MTV and become a parody

of myself and make

buckets full of money off my own inane brand

of self-righteous POP PSYCHOLOGY

because my pain is different

because I am a SEX GODDESS

and when I talk,

people listen

why ?

Because, you guessed it,


and you're not.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Sex Goddess: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Excited writer’s note: Oh my goodness, where do I even begin with this poem? Sex, power, desire, the body—all of it is present in Maggie Estep’s “Sex Goddess.” I’m excited to dive deep into this poem and explore the layers of symbolism and meaning. Are you ready? Let’s go!

Context and Background

Maggie Estep was a poet, novelist, and spoken-word artist who rose to fame in the 1990s. Her writing was known for its raw honesty and unflinching examination of sex, relationships, and the human body. “Sex Goddess” was published in her 1994 collection, “No More Mr. Nice Girl,” and has since become one of her most famous and widely-anthologized poems.


At its core, “Sex Goddess” is a poem about power and desire. The speaker, who identifies herself as a “sex goddess,” describes her ability to control and manipulate those around her through the use of her body and her sexuality. She revels in the power she wields, describing it as a “drug” that she can’t get enough of.

But this power comes at a cost. The speaker acknowledges that she is objectified and reduced to her physical attributes, and that her relationships are often shallow and unfulfilling. She describes herself as “a toy,” something to be used and discarded by those who desire her.

Throughout the poem, the speaker plays with the line between empowerment and objectification. On one hand, she seems to take pride in her ability to use her body to get what she wants. On the other hand, she acknowledges the ways in which she is reduced to a sexual object by those around her. This tension is further highlighted by the use of repetition in the poem, particularly in the phrase “sex goddess.” The repetition of this phrase emphasizes the speaker’s power, but also serves to reduce her to a single aspect of her identity.

One of the key themes of the poem is the idea of performance. The speaker describes herself as “playing a role” and putting on a show for those around her. She is hyper-aware of the way she is perceived by others, and uses her sexuality as a tool to manipulate their perceptions of her. But this performance is also a burden. The speaker notes that she is “always on,” that she can never truly relax or be herself.

The poem also touches on the idea of agency. While the speaker is clearly in control of her sexual encounters, she also acknowledges that she is ultimately powerless. She is at the mercy of her own desire, and cannot resist the pull of sex and power. This idea is emphasized by the final lines of the poem, which suggest that the speaker will continue to play the role of the “sex goddess” despite its inherent risks and limitations.


There are several key symbols and motifs in “Sex Goddess” that serve to reinforce the themes of the poem. One of the most prominent is the idea of the body as a weapon. The speaker describes her body as a “sharp blade” and a “tool,” emphasizing its power and potential for violence. This idea is further reinforced by the description of sex as a “battlefield,” suggesting that the speaker sees her sexual encounters as a kind of conquest.

The use of color is also significant in the poem. The speaker describes herself as wearing “scarlet lipstick” and “black lace,” colors that are often associated with eroticism and power. These colors serve to reinforce the speaker’s role as a “sex goddess,” and emphasize the performative aspect of her identity.

Another key symbol in the poem is the idea of the mirror. The speaker describes herself as “staring in the mirror,” emphasizing her self-awareness and her constant need to validate her own image. The mirror also serves as a symbol of the speaker’s fractured identity, suggesting that she sees different versions of herself depending on the situation.


“Sex Goddess” is a complex and challenging poem that explores the intersection of power, desire, and identity. The speaker’s role as a “sex goddess” is both empowering and objectifying, and the tension between these two aspects of her identity is a central theme of the poem. The use of symbolism and repetition serves to reinforce these themes, and the overall effect is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of sexuality and agency.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Sex Goddess: An Ode to Female Empowerment

Maggie Estep's poem "Sex Goddess" is a powerful and provocative piece that celebrates female sexuality and empowerment. With its bold language and unapologetic tone, the poem challenges traditional gender roles and societal expectations, urging women to embrace their sexuality and take control of their own lives.

At its core, "Sex Goddess" is a celebration of female desire and pleasure. Estep begins the poem by declaring that "I am a sex goddess / I am a woman who loves sex / I am a woman who loves herself." This opening statement sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is filled with references to sexual pleasure and the joy of being a sexually empowered woman.

Throughout the poem, Estep uses vivid and evocative language to describe the physical sensations of sex. She writes about "the way my body feels / when it's being touched / the way my skin tingles / when it's being licked / the way my heart races / when it's being loved." These descriptions are not only sensual and erotic, but also serve to emphasize the importance of physical pleasure in a woman's life.

However, "Sex Goddess" is not just about physical pleasure. It is also a call to arms for women to take control of their own lives and reject the societal expectations that limit their freedom and autonomy. Estep writes, "I am a woman who refuses to be defined / by the narrow-minded expectations / of a society that fears / the power of my sexuality." This statement is a powerful rejection of the patriarchal norms that have historically oppressed women and sought to control their bodies and desires.

In addition to challenging societal expectations, "Sex Goddess" also celebrates the diversity of female sexuality. Estep writes about the different ways that women experience and express their sexuality, from the "quiet and shy" to the "loud and proud." She emphasizes that there is no one "right" way to be a sexual woman, and that all women should feel free to explore and express their desires in their own way.

One of the most striking aspects of "Sex Goddess" is its use of language. Estep's writing is bold, raw, and unapologetic, with lines like "I am a woman who loves to fuck / I am a woman who loves to be fucked" and "I am a woman who knows what she wants / and isn't afraid to take it." This language is not only provocative, but also serves to emphasize the power and agency of the female voice.

Overall, "Sex Goddess" is a powerful and empowering poem that celebrates female sexuality and autonomy. Through its bold language and unapologetic tone, it challenges traditional gender roles and societal expectations, urging women to embrace their sexuality and take control of their own lives. It is a call to arms for women to reject the patriarchal norms that have historically oppressed them, and to celebrate the diversity and power of female desire.

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