Historical Representation of Women

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Michael Mclaughlin LIT 3383-001 September 13th, 2012 Topic #1 - Concerns in the representation of Women A Few Concerns About the Historical Representation of Women Several concerns could be discussed when one considers the representation of Women throughout history. I will be touching on three specifically I found interesting through our current reading. In Muriel Rukeyser's "Along History" I see women represented as frivolous creatures, lacking substance. In Muriel Rukeyser's "Myth" we see the power of gendered language and perspective, and how history has been written by man. Finally, in Stevie Smith's "How cruel is the story of eve" we see the biblical blaming of women for the downfall of man and the curse of pain associated with child birth. In Muriel Rukeyser's "Along History" she uses the phrase "some woman dancing, making shapes on the air.." (654), in these two brief lines she illustrates the perception of women, while in this case, men will be off riding their horses (inferred as representation of power), women will be dancing, and making shapes on the air (although beautiful and potentially inspiring, frivilous). Making shapes on the air represents an act of no substance, there is nothing gained from making shapes in the air, it illustrates a mind wandering, wasting time, filling up space within one's life. Rukeyser reminds the reader of how unflattering women have been represented throughout history. In Muriel Rukeyser's "Myth" she uses a brilliant phrase to illustrate the power of gendered language. Oedipus says, "When you say Man, you include women too" (654), and the Sphinx responds with "That's what you think" (654), in this exchange Rukeyser very sharply pushes to the point, language, in some cases, is a tool for gender oppression. In this specific case we see gendered language as a tool of exclusion (also seen in the creation of our
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