"Man-Size" as written by and Polly Jean Harvey....
I'm coming up man-sized skinned alive
I want to fit I've got to get
Man-sized I'm heading on
Handsome got my leather boots on
Got my girl and she's a wow
I cast my iron knickers down
Man-sized no need to shout
Can you hear can you hear me now
I'm man-sized

Man sized
I'll measure time I'll measure height
I'll calculate my birthright
Good Lord I'm big I'm heading on
Man-sized got my leather boots on
Got my girl and she's a wow
I cast my iron knickers down
Man-sized no need to shout
Can you hear, can you hear me now
My babe looking cool and neat
I'm pretty sure good enough to eat
I'm man-sized no need to shout
Let it all, let it all hang out
I'm man-size, man size
Man size, man size, man size, man size
Man size, man size

Silence my lady head
Get girl out of my head
Douse hair with gasoline
Set it light and set it free
Silence my lady head
Get girl out of my head
Douse hair with gasoline
Set it light and set it free


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"Man-Size" as written by Polly Jean Harvey

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Man-Size song meanings
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  • +3
    General Commentto me....this is a commentary on the male pre-occupation with the penis....i think "skinned alive" refers to circumcision....the male examining the penis....sizing it up.....always measuring it....comparing it to others....the parts about the girl friend are typical male bragadoccia....this is all about the male ego....when he gets snubbed by a girl he wants to get her out of his head..."head"....out of both his thoughts...and out of his sexual desire....he does not like to fail in his sexual endeavors and attempts to impress women with his manliness....i think she is making fun of the typical male
    musicatokcon July 07, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationLike many songs of hers, they can be interpreted in many ways, but this is just how I personally interpreted the song:

    The song is told not necessarily from PJ's perspective, but from the persona of a typical "macho" man. He believes his masculinity holds him superior to others. Because of this superiority he doesn't feel "a need to shout" because he believes people inferior to him (particularly women) should give him the attention he deserves; because he is a man, he believes this is his inherent "birthright", if you will.

    It also describes how he perceives women and femininity. Women to him are at most his accessory; the line "I'm pretty sure good enough to eat" could refer to women as a piece of "meat", if you ,will whether having a sexual tone or not.

    Finally, I believe the last few lines are him trying to rid himself of the weakness inside of him, which he perceives to be femininity ("silence my lady head"; "get girl out of my head", etc.), in order to keep his power, authority and masculinity, to keep him "man-sized".
    DivingUpon November 23, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General Commentto me it seems that her albums all have specific feels or themes."Rid of Me" was very sexual in nature. Taboo themes. Intimate lyrics, squealing guitar. This song... transexuality maybe? calculate my birthrite...
    sounds like shes physically describing a tranformation from female to male, but.. not taken literally... its not as if she is really skinning herself alive and burning her hair off... this speaker in the song may just despise being a woman. to be heard, must become man-sized
    forcetenhurricaneon October 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWell, it could be about transsexuality, or just a woman wishing she was male so that her voice would be heard in sexist society. "Calculate my birthrite" could either be working hard to prove you're as good as a man, or going into math/science related fields which are normally associated with men (while academic women tend to be associated with languages and social sciences) to "prove" the masculine nature of your brain.
    The "Good lord I'm big" and "leather boots" sound like fantasies of either domination or masculinity (they are seen as connected so it's unclear), while the bit about "casting iron knickers down" refers to finally beng comfortable having sexual relations in that role.
    Also "skinned alive" does remind of serial killer Ed Gein, who would create "woman suits" out of his victims and dress up in them (it's unclear whether or not he was transgendered). It could be Polly subverting that idea and turing it arond into a biologically female person doing it to a dude. It would make sense given the fact that other songs on ROM like Legs and Rid of Me are about women carrying out violent, possessive crimes which are associated with men and have parallels in the stories of real life male stalkers/serial killers.
    I think that's the point of a lot of the songs on ROM, whether they're violent or not, Polly uses a sexual role reversal on many tracks (50ft Queenie being another example).
    urban_idyllon November 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe thing about changing her gender to be heard in the society does make sense! Though, when I first heard the lyrics, I thought about something more on the line of anorexia - getting rid of all the womanly curves, so that she'd gain a figure of a boy in a kinda obsessive and masochistic process.
    wiewioroson January 04, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentto me it seems that her albums all have specific feels or themes."Rid of Me" was very sexual in nature. Taboo themes. Intimate lyrics, squealing guitar. This song... transexuality maybe? calculate my birthrite...
    sounds like shes physically describing a tranformation from female to male, but.. not taken literally... its not as if she is really skinning herself alive and burning her hair off... this speaker in the song may just despise being a woman. to be heard, must become man-sized
    forcetenhurricaneon October 03, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think she means this song to be from a man's point of view.
    omfgmattyon February 27, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe "good lord, I'm big" part is the best line.
    I kind of think she is mocking the typically male, but who really knows?
    vanilladiedon October 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe "good lord, I'm big" part is the best line.
    I kind of think she is mocking the typically male, but who really knows?
    vanilladiedon October 15, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentShe is criticizing machismo and making fun of typical macho men stereotypes.
    carcrashkisson July 22, 2009   Link

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