AP Lit–“Myth”

by Muriel Rukeyser (1973)

Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
roads.       He smelled a familiar smell.      It was
the Sphinx.      Oedipus said, “I want to ask one question.
Why didn’t I recognize my mother?”      “You gave the
wrong answer,” said the Sphinx.      “But that was what
made everything possible,” said Oedipus.     “No,” she said.
“When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning,
two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered,
Man.       You didn’t say anything about woman.”
“When you say Man,” said Oedipus, “you include women
too.  Everyone knows that.”      She said, “That’s what
you think.”

Muriel Ruckeyser wrote this poem in 1973.  What comment is she making about her society?  Do you think her concern is still relevant in today’s society?  Why or why not?

63 comments to AP Lit–“Myth”

  1. jadorelire says:

    While women achieved the political right to vote in 1920, they were still largely discriminated against in the 1960s and 1970s. They had the same rights as men on paper, but certainly not in everyday life. Wages in the workforce were unequal between the sexes, and women were judged unfairly under the law. Muriel Rukeyser, author of “Myth”, addresses this issue through her poem alluding to the well-known tragedy of Oedipus.

    The sphinx curses Oedipus for not including “woman” to the answer (man) of the riddle. Oedipus, representing the society of the 1960s and 1970s, responds by stating “everyone knows that” women are included when saying the word “man.” The sphinx, representing the feminist movement, reminds Oedipus that not everyone knows that. Through this, Rukeyser is commenting that the values of equality cannot simply be implied, they need to be clarified and solidified. The women of her era were campaigning to create awareness of the vast inequality between males and females in everyday life. The injustice was passing over the citizens’ heads without notice, and women worked to clarify the issue to expose its unfair prejudice.

    This comment is still relevant today because its advice can be applied to many other facets of life. Clear communication and attention to detail should be attended to with any matter. Without clarity, communication problems arise and are convoluted with supposed intentions and unspoken assumptions.

    • traveler12 says:

      I agree with your statements. Women have been highly discriminated against throughout the 1900s and have worked very hard to earn their rights. Women were discriminated against in the law and still are not completely the same with wages earned in the work force. Although it is very close to the same, it is not quite, yet. I completely agree the Sphinx represents the feminist movement.

    • an0nymous says:

      I completely agree with your summary of Ruckeyser’s poem. I believe that is exactly her intentions in writing it and it makes complete sense with the time area it was written in. Yes women had rights theoretically, but in all reality there was still ignorance and unspoken assumptions as you said. I also really like and agree with your relevance to society today. Aside from the specific “women’s rights” concrete implication which I feel is almost a cliche in society today it can be used as a general guide for simple problems like clear communication and unspoken assumptions.

    • Mr. Hankey says:

      I agree with your parallelism between the Sphinx and the Feminist Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. I also feel that in certain situations, women are still fighting for equality today. The difference is that it often happens behind closed doors on a smaller scale. It is to my understanding that in many situations, women are still forced to fight for equal pay or top jobs. I feel that this largely has to do with the level of uncertainty women present to the workplace. The fact of the matter is that women get pregnant. When someone is deciding who to hire for an important job, and it comes down to a man and a woman of equal credentials, I believe that the man is more likely to be hired. Hypothetically, the employer could hire a woman, and let’s say that in a few years, she decides to start a family. She ends up getting pregnant. Suddenly, the company must find a way to compensate for maternity leave, or possibly a permanent leave in order to raise the child. I do not agree that this SHOULD be a factor in deciding jobs, for I believe that women and men ARE equal and should be treated as such. However, there are valid reasons for some of the struggles in gender equality that still present themselves today.

    • jmann says:

      Thank you Jadorelire, for starting us off on the right path. I especially liked your ending sentences; you were able to frame the issue in a thought provoking way.

  2. reginaphalange says:

    “Don’t forget the ladies.” These words were written by Abagail Adams, in hopes that her husband would have enough sense to remember everyone when writing the Declaration of Independence. Nonetheless, this important document was written with the phrase “…all men are created equal…,” failing to include about half of America’s population. Some may argue that “When you say man… you include women too,” as Oedipus puts it in Muriel Ruckeyser’s poem, “Myth”. However, this is clearly debatable as women were not included in countless rights following the establishment of the Declaration of Independence. Through allusions to “Oedipus the King” and The Declaration of Independence, Ruckeyser comments on the discrimination of women dating back to when our country was first founded in her poem “Myth.”
    Although this poem was written in 1973, its meaning still holds true and is significant today. True, women can now vote, have careers and there are a lot more opportunities for them however while women may have gained countless rights over the years and gender roles are slowly fading, discrimination of other groups is still present. While Ruckeyser’s exact concern may not be as relevant today, discrimination of other minorities is still a problem.

    • two24 says:

      I agree that women have been discriminated against since the formation of our country. Sure historians look back now and say the phrase “all men are created equal…” was meant to include women. But it was not. Back in the 1700s women were greatly looked down upon and slowly, very slowly they gained more and more rights. It took almost two hundred years for women to get the right to vote. It took numerous women’s rights movements and conventions for the law to be changed. But just as the problem of slavery wasn’t solved with the emancipation proclamation, women did not and still do not have the same rights as men.
      Forty years ago gender roles were different then today. A woman was a typical house wife that stayed at home, cooked and cleaned. There was no question about it. When people said all men are equal they said women were included too so they weren’t looked down upon; but in reality they knew that the women stayed home and that is all she is good for. Today gender roles have improved. It is more acceptable for women to work and hold high positions. But as mentioned in previous entries, they still aren’t paid equal amounts and don’t have as much opportunity to earn higher positions. Gender roles will truly be gone when the phrase “stay at home dad” is just as common as a stay at home mom.

      • greendinosaur123 says:

        I agree with Two24’s statement on the gender roles of men and women of society today. Women are expected to nurture the children and a dirty house is usually blamed on the wife, rather than the husband. The men are expected to get a job and bring the bread home. However, I think that “stay at home dad” will never be as common as “stay at home mom” because men and women are not the same. Gender roles are still as firmly in place in society today as they were many years ago, except the roles are disguised a lot better. The reason is that men and women will always be different– our appearances, our innate nature, even our thought processes are different. Until, we all morph into a same gender being, gender roles will not disappear.

    • potatohead1234 says:

      I agree that details are important when stating something, especially in today’s society. Without clarification words can be interpreted in numerous ways, and society bases its opinions of how the majority grasps an idea. For example, the famous saying from the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal…” can be interpreted in many ways, just like the conversation between Oedipus and the Sphinx. Oedipus believes that the term “men” includes women, while the Sphinx thinks the opposite, due to one added detail. Throughout history women were not accepted just because the word “women” was not in the Declaration of Independence, and those of different races were not accepted because the phrase “those of a different race” was not included in the Declaration either, so they had to be added to ensure that freedom. Just like today with the conflict of gay marriage, people pay attention to small details. Some believe a marriage is between a woman and a man, while others believe it is just between two people. In our society, without specific details to govern us, people can interpret words or the laws in different ways, sometimes completely opposite of their intentions. Perhaps this is what the Sphinx was pointing out, not only the lack of women’s rights.

    • orangestarburst says:

      I really like reginaphalange’s point about the Declaration of Independence and how even though Oedipus says man also means woman, it really doesn’t. Even though that is the way he sees it, it’s not necessarily true. Arguing that man also includes woman in it, means that men and women have to be equal to eachother. Through her poem, “Myth” Ruckeyser expresses how women are not treated equally to men. Even when someone tries to argue, “…all men are created equal.” it doesn’t work. Because when they say men, women aren’t included in that. In Ruckeyser’s society women were given unequal wages and looked down upon. Men might have thought that women were being treated equally because they had been given a lot of rights by that time, but they really weren’t. They did not have the exact same rights as men. Men just saw it that way. Just like Oedipus sees the word men, to also include women. Even now, women still don’t have the same equality to men. We don’t get the same wages or job opportunities. If we are to say that man also means women, we need to be able to see no unequal standards in either one’s life.

    • sushi16 says:

      I agree with this person that in our time there is not a lot of women discrimination however there are discriminations on minorities and minority rights. I also like how you talked about the Declaration of Independence and how Abigail Adams told her husband that women are just as equally important. Women throughout history have had fewer rights than men. For a very long time they were acknowledged by men as the weaker gender. They were thought to be weaker and unable to lift heavy things because they were women. Their “jobs” were to stay home, clean the house, and take care of the children. It took many years for women to get their voices out about how they were treated unequally and didn’t get the same rights as men did. As shown in this poem “Myth” by Muriel Rukeyser, it shows how men didn’t even consider women as an equal gender. They just assume that if they say “man” it also includes “woman.” Of course, during the time Rukeyser wrote this poem, 1973, women had more rights and job opportunities than decades before. However, they still did not get complete rights as men did. A study stated that in 1970 women were paid about 45 percent less than men for the same jobs. It is ironic because this was after the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

  3. seewinterkay says:

    Women have always been degraded in our history. Whether in regards to the workforce, the law, or even household chores, women were largely dishonored to an extent where it became “normal” to look down upon women. Thus, in the poem, “Myth”, Muriel Rukeyser further emphasizes her views upon gender roles and how women were ignored. When Oedipus tells the Sphinx that women are included in the word “Man”, it is clearly demonstrated that man was a significant figure who supposedly represented women as well. Women weren’t given their own thoughts and identity. Instead they seemed to only be represented as men’s partners.
    Although women now have gotten equal chances in our society, the treatment and views toward what men and women are capable of doing will always differ. Although the extent of the inequality between men and women are not as bad as it used to be in the past, the discrimination still exists. According to statistics, women earn less than men in 99% of all occupations. Even though the main reason for this difference in wages between men and women may not be due to discrimination of women in the workplace, it still accounts for it. Both genders maybe equally treated in regards to the law, but women are still treated and perceived unfairly. Thus, Rukeyser’s purpose to illustrate the gender roles also relates to today’s society.

    • erebus164 says:

      When in your second paragraph, you stated that, “According to statistics, women earn less than men in 99% of all occupations. Even though the main reason for this difference in wages between men and women may not be due to discrimination of women in the workplace”. So you are suggesting that there are other reasons why wages are not the same? If so, what are some of the reasons you think it could be?

      In my opinion, one possible reason could be health reasons. It could be that women are more prone to sickness than men. There are studies that show women are more likely to report being stressed. Do you believe it is possible that this discrepancy in wages could be caused by reasons such as this?

      • jadorelire says:

        Suppose you are an employer. How would your interpretation that women are more prone to sickness affect the wages of a female? Why would you pay a women less because she is more “prone to sickeness”? I’m curious to see your justification.

        As for the original poster, I am curious where the statistics are referenced from. “Women earn less than men in 99% of all occupations.” When you think about the various occupations, many are fixed salaries/wages, indifferent to gender. Therefore, I am highly skeptical of that statistic. Please provide a source.

        • seewinterkay says:

          Erebus164, I understand that health reasons may be the cause for the report that women earn less than men, however I do not believe it’s because women tend to be more sick. Not all women are “more prone to sickness” than men and just because studies show that more women report being stressed, does not necessarily mean that they will be sick. Instead, I think the health reasons may be due to pregnancy. Many women have maternity leave once they are expecting a child so it is possible that they earn less wages because they can’t work as much as men. Not only does it include pregnancy, it also includes raising and spending more time with their child.

          Due to the fact that women will spend less time at work for a certain time period due to pregnancy, businesses also tend to hire less women. Businesses want workers who are able to attend work every day. Thus, women still to this day don’t have an equal chance of getting a stable job compared to men.

          Although this may not be true for all companies, I just wanted to throw an idea out there that this may be a possible reason as to why women earn less. Furthermore, I wanted to provide an example as to how and why inequality and discrimination is still present today in the workplace.

          Also, jadorelire, I got the statistic from an online article called, “10 Surprising Statistcs on Women in the Workplace”.

    • treediagram says:

      Seewinterkay, I disagree in your statement that “Women have always been degraded in our history.” It’s well known that there have been matriarchal societies in our history as a human race. One well known one is the Native Americans, where the lead female has strong say in the actions taken by the tribe. Saying that it became normal to look down upon women is only partially true. True in the sense of some cultures, but it is not an absolute as the human race.

      Like how Oedipus assumed that woman was included when the word “man” is used, all words here on this blog are assumed to not include what is not implicitly stated. Do be careful with how you word yourself.

      Going along the same path as erebus164, I too would like to know your thoughts on factors contributing to why women earn less than men in 99% of all occupations. In addition, I would like to know where you have gotten your statistics. Unlike the arguments I have put forth which can be found in many history and cultural texts, your statistics are likely harder to acquire and perhaps,incorrect.

      • goldfish125 says:

        Treediagram, you bring up a side to the argument that I hadn’t thought of. While there are cultures that women are considered to be less than men, there are those, like the Native Americans, that gave men and women equal weight in society. Your statement, “One well known one is the Native Americans, where the lead female has strong say in the actions taken by the tribe. Saying that it became normal to look down upon women is only partially true. True in the sense of some cultures, but it is not an absolute as the human race,” brought up a side to the argument that I had not considered. After hearing your statement, I think that this view should be considered and appreciated – we should recognize that while there are cultures in which discrimination against women does exist, it is not necessarily true throughout history. 

        • seewinterkay says:

          Treediagram, I completely understand that my statement was too broad. I never meant for my statement to be interpreted like that for I realize that women weren’t degraded in all cultures. Thank you for pointing that out.

      • reginaphalange says:

        I also think that treedigram brought up a very interesting point when mentioning that in many cultures women are equal or even the leaders. Because the poem “Myth” mentions the word “man” referring to “woman” as well and this point about different cultures was brought up, it got me thinking about other languages. In Spanish, for example, when referring to a group with both genders, one would use the word “ellos” which is masculine; the same word that means men means men and women as well. Therefore, Spanish, along with many other languages, is similar to English when it comes to genders. So, while many cultures cannot be included in this analysis, I believe that it can definitely be applied to more than just America.

        • 12thdoctor says:

          For ten minutes I tried connecting the title “Myth” with the poems meaning, but when I read Raginaphilange’s explanation it all came together for me. The statement, “Because the poem “Myth” mentions the word “man” referring to “woman” as well and this point about different cultures was brought up, it got me thinking about other languages…” actually got me thinking about other languages as well. Spanish was brought up and how the plural word for people “ellos” (men and women included) is a masculine word, like in the English language. I asked a French 3 student from our school if this was true for French as well and the results were the same. On paper French and Spanish have many similar spellings of words and similar roots; this also includes other languages such as Italian. When I dug deeper I found that these languages had originated from Greek and then from Latin. From my research I believe it can be argued that societies with Greek and Latin backgrounds formed around the dominant power being towards man, not woman. The argument made earlier that not all cultures were men dominant, such as many Native American tribes, and Native American languages and even tribal languages found in South America do not contain Latin and Greek origins that are men dominant. Maybe languages can tell us what gender is dominant in that society, and how its history plays along with the gender dominant mindset as well.

      • guernica says:

        Seewinterkay implies that women are always placed under men and are subordinate. Even though Rukeysor is implying that that women are placed under men in society, I do not totally believe that is true. I feel as though the statement “man” really does include both men and women; that is a truth that has been accepted throughout all of society. It is something that is known as a universal phrase. With Oedipus saying, “When you say Man, you include women too. Everyone knows that”. he is speaking for this universal idealism that everyone is aware of. Women have been put down during society. But it does not apply to our society today. Women are able to pursue their dreams and careers just like any male in our society. We are all stuck in the mind frame of “women are lesser than man” but in reality, their is an array of examples that proves women have excelled in society and have proven themselves to be equal to man or even greater than the male figure. For example, Hilary Clinton. She has attempted to run for president; an action no women would have attempted 50 years ago. She is a real example of how women have evolved to meet the same expectations as men.

    • jmann says:

      This was a great exchange by all the parties involved. I appreciate not only that some of you wanted seewinterkay to provide evidence for his/her assertions, but that seewinterkay did provide them. I noticed too that later posters started supplying evidence because they saw it was expected. Nicely done.

  4. erebus164 says:

    Muriel Ruckeyser’s “Myth” brings up her concern that in society women are treated unequally to that of men. In her piece, the Sphinx criticizes men, represented by Oedipus, for his wrong answer of “man” to her riddle instead of “man and woman”. By utilizing an allusion to Oedipus, she further strengthens her message of the inequality between men and women in society by demonstrating that this slant against women has existed for millennia, from ancient Greece to modern day America.

    Despite the best efforts of feminists, even today, women are not treated equally as men. Countless studies show that women on average earn lower wages then men in America. Furthermore, there are a lower percentage of women in high level jobs than men. Until women achieve the exact same level of treatment as men will Ruckeyser’s concern be irrelevant. Until then, inequality between men and women will persist in American society. As long as the inequality exists, women’s millennia long struggle to achieve equality and the concern brought up by Ruckeyser will continue.

    • prettyprincess4 says:

      I agree in the sense that women are often slighted in phrases such as that of Oedipus’ and that women have fought for years to be treated equally. However I would argue that it is more in the language and the ideas we hold as a society that slights women rather than a literal inequality. In today’s society it is very rare to find someone that truly believes men are superior to women. I agree that women are still not entirely equal in the workplace but they are working there way there. Equality is a process not a switch, and I believe today we are still in the midst of that process.

      • quantum2011 says:

        PrettyPrincess4 brings up a valid point that the inequality of women is now more so away from actual inequality, but instead of inequality in language, the inequality lies in the mentality of people. People are gradually steering away from the idea that men are superior to women, but that idea still lingers in our minds, and until that idea is completely vanquished, we can’t achieve true equality for men and women. Also, I would like to point out that though in America and other countries, women have started to gain equality, there are other countries that still have not started to accept women as equals of men and that too is something that could hinder women from achieving true equality as the idea of inequality could still be found in the world.

  5. lowol says:

    The Bill of Rights states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Long afterward the Bill of Rights still stands, and women have not been added. Why? Because “everyone knows that” “you include women too.” It is considered obvious, just as it is to Oedipus in Muriel Rukeyser’s poem, “Myth.” Oedipus’s old age and blind eyes indicates that this idea has been around for a long time and does not appear to be recognized or fixed anytime soon, considering his eyes will not heal themselves naturally. Perhaps, with a little outside prompting and aid, he will regain sight and possibly recognize what Rukeyser intends to bring attention to: women’s equality. Perhaps Rukeyser deems the cause hopeless and his blind eyes will forever remain sightless. Nonetheless, this concept is still relevant to today—considering the Bill of Rights has not revised that line. Even when writing essays, the average person still resorts to “men” rather than “men and women.”
    Rukeyser recognizes and calls attention to the pathetic perception of her current existing “equality.”
    During Oedipus’s time is was relevant. In 1973 it was relevant. Today it is relevant. Tomorrow is still capable of being irrelevant.

    • slovakya1622 says:

      I completely agree that this is how it is; however, I would like to bring up the idea that maybe it isnt the word itself but the connotation. Your last sentece brings me to this conclusion. I feel that if we work as a society on furthering the status of women in the world, it wouldnt matter what word we used, because the attitude of intersexual respect is present.

  6. jellybean62 says:

    A woman named Bella Abzug once said, “Women will not simply be mainstreamed into the polluted stream. Women are changing the stream, making it clean and green and safe for all- every gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, age, and ability.” This quote talks about how women were always judged in society for being far too different from men to be their equals. In all societies the obvious biological difference between men and women is used as a justification for forcing them into different social roles which limit and shape their attitudes and behavior. Muriel Rukeyser’s poem “Myth” anticipates more recent feminist questions and reflections about women’s relations to men and their actions.

    For example, in the excerpt “Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was the Sphinx. Oedipus said, “I want to ask you one question. Why didn’t I recognize my mother?” “You gave the wrong answer,” said the Sphinx. “But that was what made everything possible,” said Oedipus. “No,” she said. “When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered, Man. You didn’t say anything about woman.” Oedipus’ wrong answer can relate to his inability to recognize his mother in that he has no hang ups including women and man; basically, man. This sphinx is over-complicating his life with twisted words. So the Sphinx symbolizes bureaucracy.

    I found the poem “Myth” by Muriel Rukeyser to be a different, startling feminist version of the Oedipus story that locates the hero’s tragic flaw in the deleting of the female from his famous answer to the Sphinx’s riddle: “Man.” Also, the tone of this poem is interesting, because the diction is simple. It reads almost like a children’s story. I like this poem most of all for its final sentence, which leaves the reader with a new look at the Oedipus stories.

    • lowol says:

      The Sphinx symbolizes bureaucracy? That is a very interesting claim, and definitely a unique interpretation. But do you really think Rukeyser would go as far as to refer to bureaucracy to establish her feminist position? If so, please explain.

      I agree with the biological difference justification claim. It is apparent in all societies that this biological difference does affect men and women’s attitude and behavior. If men were of the same strength and stature as women, it is likely that men’s sports would not dramatically overtake women’s sports in popularity.

      Overall, I agree with most of these points–the relevance of the quote, the hero’s tragic flaw, and the literary analysis. Perhaps Rukeyser made it almost like a children’s story with the intention of ridiculing mankind for not understanding/recognizing this childlike idea that “man=man+woman.”

      • jellybean62 says:

        I would like to make a reference to the book “The Feminist Case Against Bureaucracy” by writer Kathy E. Ferguson, because the writer wanted to identify to the reader “the power structures of bureaucratic capitalist society” as a primary source for the hardship of men and women, and supporting the elimination of the hardships, rather than the exact opposite. I’m going out on a limb here, but i do think that in a sense Rukeyser and Ferguson have similar opinions voiced on the issue of feminism and bureaucracy.

  7. pinktotoro says:

    So far, we have used the Bill of Rights, other written works and unequal salaries to point out the prevalence of Ruckeyser’s ‘myth’ in today’s realm of socially acceptable inaccuracies.
    But what about our part in all of this? There has to be a reason why this so called ‘unspoken equality’ is still a pervasive and troubling matter today. In class, when we were given our first TPCAST, the majority of us where automatically referring to the speaker as a man! Ms. Mann had to ask us why we were so quick to decide the speaker was male. There were no deciding factors to make that conclusion, so why were many of us making such an unsupported assumption?
    Well think of it this way. Throughout the thousands of years of history and the many civilizations and cultures of the world, women normally held a drastically lower status than men. They were, and sadly still are (in some places) only seen as means of reproduction or marriage prospects. Yet, it was in New Zealand in 1893, only one hundred and twenty years ago, when women were first given the right to vote. Our minds, cultures and societies had thousands of years to justify the inequality of women, but only a century for a complete reversal of it. Even us, citizens of the relatively new age of women’s rights and equality for all, still subconsciously assume that the unidentified speaker of a poem is a man.
    Today, Ruckeyser’s “myth” is no longer a feminist piece, but a reminder of how far we’ve come, and how much farther we have to go. The subconscious idea that man encompasses woman may not be accurate in all aspects, but I’d say it’s an enormous amount of progress given the time the world has had to change.

    • n7cleo says:

      I disagree with pinktotoro’s assertion that “Myth” is no longer a feminist piece. Feminism is simply believing that women are equal to men. No matter what time period this piece is seen in, it still argues for equal rights of men and women. However, I do agree that patriarchal society has brainwashed people into subconsciously thinking of men before women in all aspects. For example, women used to score better than men on the SAT critical reading section but scored worse in the mathematics section. The SAT test writers changed the critical reading test to be more geared toward men. They didn’t change the math section when women scored less than men, yet they changed the critical reading section when men scored less than women. The women’s lower test score in math didn’t seem like an issue to the test makers, but men’s lower test score in critical reading did (when in most other standardized reading tests, women score higher).

    • jmann says:

      I’d like to compliment pinktotoro’s variety of evidence. I liked the reference to our class as well as to larger issues. Ncleo7 also brought up evidence and developed it very well in service of the point he/she wanted to make.

  8. prettyprincess4 says:

    Throughout history in almost every society women have been or are still neglected. It has taken decades of fighting to prove that women should be equals and still the idea is not fully accepted. The human race has been generalized to be known as solely—men. Oedipus claims, “you include women too. Everyone knows that.” But then why can’t we just say men and women? Why has it always just been men? In a key document of our nation’s creation, The Bill of Rights, it is stated that “all men are created equal” neglecting the rights of women. In Muriel Rukeyser’s poem “Myth” we question whether the word “women” is really implied alongside men in Oedipus’ statement or in any societal statement for that matter.

    Muriel Rukeyser sees a disconnect between what we want to be true and reality. She comments on the inequality between men and women through the subtle neglect our society demonstrates through their words and actions. Society has changed greatly in the past fifty years, through rights, societal norms and ideals. But there are still basic ideas that are engrained in our minds as a society that never change. As a society we have claimed that we are all equal, yet we still fight to deem others lower than ourselves. We still conflict in ideals and morals that lead us to an unequal and essentially unjust society. It is now allowed to have women attend college, to have women in the workplace and to have women succeed. We as a society claim that these ideas are acceptable but we still see a male power coming through. The idea that men are the “breadwinners” and women should raise a family is still prevalent. These basic phrases and ideas that have been thought to be insignificant still exist and will continue to exist until they are recognized by our society as incorrect.

    • serendipitousdiscovery says:

      I find truth in prettyprincess4’s thoughts on our society’s self-inflicted neglect. We claim one thing- that women are equal- yet evidence proves otherwise. Take education for example, only fifteen percent of women hold a corporate office in Fortune 500 companies, yet women make up over half of America’s labor force. Fifteen percent is vastly less than fifty percent. The answer cannot be reasoned to women not being qualified. Over half of the enrollment in colleges across the U.S. is women. They are receiving the education, but are not given the opportunities or experience to succeed. This may be attributed to the social stigma that men are strong and powerful, characteristics of a leader. As prettyprincess4 said, these are “basic ideals that are engrained in our minds as a society that never change.” This ideology has been that of society forever; Muriel Ruckeyser attests to this in her poem, Myth, written decades ago. When responding to the idea that women are included when speaking of men, she writes “That’s what you think.” Still today we think equality exists between genders in our society, and that is the problem. There can be no more thinking, but acting. The English proverb, “actions speak louder than words”, sums up my thoughts on our neglect of our assertions. We will never be an equal society until statistics prove it.

      • jmann says:

        Both prettyprincess4 and serendipitousdiscovery display excellent voice. While a blog is more informal, both of these writers were casual without becoming too casual and also displayed good word choice and sentence variety.

    • neomaxizoomdweebie says:

      I completely agree with your view. This poem reflects on the fact people use terms that are no longer politically correct, like “man” to represent the human race. This has to do with the fact the people don’t realize what they say is no longer correct. In the poem, Oedipus believes what he says is correct and everyone knows what he means. This happens a lot in society because of the view people previously had on women. Women were inferior and the weak human, not included in the most important parts of life. This poem touches on that.
      Now, women can do so much more. They can vote, go to college, work, and be on there own. Women are independent and have rights just like men do in the world. But there are stigmas that women are attached to. That means women still have to work hard to overcome these ancient obstacles in a more subtle way. Women have to work harder to prove their strength and intelligence. This is all because subconsciously both men and women have the stereotype in their mind that women are subordinate to men. This all has to do with the fact the phrases like “man” started with a negative context towards women. Now women overcome these stereotypes everyday even though they re still in the minds of the average human being.

  9. goldfish125 says:

    “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This commonly known phrase seems innocent and inspiring at a first glance, but after a closer look, women aren’t mentioned at all. The same instance is seen repeated throughout history, and is addressed in “Myth,” by Muriel Rukeyser, when Oedipus says, “When you say Man, you include women too. Everyone knows that.” But does everyone know that? It took women years to gain the same rights as men, and even today there are cases in which men are treated better than women. Muriel Rukeyser’s comment on a society that treats men better than women still has merit today. We may not see it as prominently as before the Women’s Rights Movement, but there is still an underlying current of discrimination in many cases. Oedipus’ response to the Sphinx’s question with a simple, “man” instead of accounting for women as well reminds us that this underlying current may not be as visible as it has been in the past, but there was a time that women would not have been included. Until there is complete equal treatment of men and women, Muriel Rukeyser’s concern will still be a concern for society.

  10. n7cleo says:

    Our society discriminates against women. Not “used to discriminate” or “has discriminated,” but still actively discriminates against women. In Muriel Ruckeyser’s poem, “Myth,” she points out that society does not treat women as equal to men, despite what some people may believe.

    In the past, women were of a lower status than men because of two major things: they were physically weaker than men and they could bear children. Two physical differences between men and women accounted for the enormous gap between men’s rights and women’s rights. Considering this, it’s not surprising that society today still “forgets” about women. Ruckseyer comments on this aspect of society by using Oedipus — a man who is figuratively blind to his own situation — in her poem claim that women are included in the word “man.” By utilizing this character, Ruckseyer demonstrates that society is blind to the lack of equality between men and women. We think that women and men are equal, but society does not truly deem them so.

    Today, women are bombarded with images of how they “should” be and are paid seventy-five cents to the man’s dollar. Their rights are a hot topic in the political arena as well. While women are objectified, suppressed, paid less, and taught to act only in a certain way, Ruckseyer’s concern will continue to be relevant.

    • seewinterkay says:

      I agree with n7cleo’s argument that society still considers women as inferior to men. Although, society believes women are now given equal rights as men, the discriminatory stereotypes for women are still continued today. I,too, believe that the two major reasons for the discrimination against women in the past is due to women’s physique and ability to bear children. However, I also believe that these two major reasons cause the inequality of women to still exist in today’s society.

      Although I like your various reasons as to why women are still discriminated in today’s society, I would like to further hear your view through a more developed example. I also would like to know if you believe that the “two major things” are still the two major reasons for the inequality of women present today.

  11. sourpickle12 says:

    In the poem “Myths,” Muriel Ruckeyser brings up a heated debate about how women and men are not equal and have always been viewed differently. There is no denying that since the beginning of time, women were treated far below men. It wasn’t until the early 1900’s where women were allowed to vote and even in today’s world, many women are still considered inferior to men. When Oedipus responds to the Sphinx riddle by simply answering “man” and then responding with “When you say man, you include women,” this gives another example of how women were never really worth mentioning especially in that time period. Oedipus’s answer to the sphinx really underlines Rucheyser’s message that inequalities between men women really do exist. I believe that Ruckeysers was very passionate about her feeling towards woman deserving more acclaim in life.
    Many people in countries such as China and India sill believe in the idea that having a son is worth more than a girl will ever be. This is an example of a misconception that proves how others still believe that men are superior to women. Therefore, Ruckeyser’s poem still relates to today’s society since inequality among women still exist.

  12. treediagram says:

    In ancient Greek society, women were seen as the other half of man, in the sense that they were responsible for tasks seen as feminine. Child-bearing, child-raising, cooking, and cleaning. Stereotypical sexism as seen by today’s society. Assuming that men in ancient Greece considered women to be automatically associated with the usage of the word “man” in ancient Greece is an assumption, and perhaps accurate one, used by the author of “”Myth”, Muriel Rukeyser. Oedipus thought that Man included woman, but that is not the case according to the Sphinx. This train of though has persisted through many culture and many millennium. It appears that Rukeyser points out this assumption of the ages by paralleling sexism of 1973 with the sexism of the ancient Greeks. I do believe that Ruckeyser’s concern of sexism in society is still valid, but likely not as much as the time period when the poem was written. During the 50s, a time that the author likely grew up in, women were subservient; housewives. Only during the following years were significant leaps in equality rights beyond voting. In the age we live in now, we are building upon the rights for “Man and Woman.” Though there are still pockets of sexism, the differences between the past and present are night and day.

    • strawberrylover says:

      I completely agree with treediagram’s assertion about the stereotypical sexism in today’s culture. People joke around all the time. A guy tells a girl “make me a sandwich,” “stay in the kitchen,” it’s all for the purpose of a laugh. It’s a joke that a guy makes that is completely inappropriate. Sadly, the fact that it’s 2012 and that these statements are still being made is an obvious sign that the idea brought up in “Myths,” that women are not considered to be equal is apparent, even in this time period.
      Women have the right to vote, they have the same freedoms as men, they are able to do exactly what men can do, but they are discriminated and subjected against. Society lowers them to make them be mere pawns. Society expects them to do all of the dirty work— i.e. make a sandwich—and they are continued to be far from equal. Like it was stated in the Bill of Rights “all men are created equal,” well women were not thought of in this. They may have gained rights, but society thinks of them as inferior, we see it on a daily basis.

  13. quantum2011 says:

    Alexander Pope, an 18th century poet, quoted, “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man.” Though Pope’s use of mankind and man refers to both men and women, Pope’s word choice represents the prevailing thought process of society, then and now. Whenever we refer to people as a whole, we occasionally refer to people as mankind, without the thought that by referring to people as mankind, we essentially are leaving out half of the equation, or about half of the people living on this planet. Though mankind is used to refer to both men and women, the dictionary definition includes that mankind refers to men as opposed to women.

    Ruckeyser’s poem shows that men in her time period did not think too highly of the women in society. In her poem, Oedipus tells the Sphinx that “man” includes both men and women, but by saying this, Oedipus’ words leave women behind in the shadow of the men. It seems that until just a century ago, women have been following in the shadows of men. Though Ruckeyser’s concern of men overshadowing women is not completely eliminated, there’s still room for change as total equality has not been reached even in today’s society.

  14. slovakya1622 says:

    “Herstory” and “ovester” are words that arose during the feminist movement of the 20th century. They address the desire by the feminists for our language to represent females as well as males. Muriel Ruckeyser’s message regarding the representation of women in our language is that women are ignored behind a male default. The interesting part of this argument though is, currently it is labeled politically correct to say “postman” instead of differentiating gender and saying either “postman” or “postwoman.” This was made correct in the 1990’s. I think however Ruckseyer’s point goes farther. Really it doesn’t matter the words we use, so long as the attitude of respect for everyone is present. She wants equal respect for both men and women.
    I absolutely think this is a relevant argument for today. Right now I would say that women are in an awkward in between state. Yes we are searching for respect and how to raise our stature, but there is no set picture of what a respected women looks like, solidified. On one hand there are women who embrace their sexuality and use femininity to make a career, and on the other hand there are women who go into the “man’s domain,” aka the workforce and try to earn respect by doing what men do traditionally.

  15. traveler12 says:

    The poem, Myth written by Muriel Rukeyser in 1973 brings up a valid point. Mentioning man does not mean women are included. When Oedipus asks the Sphinx why he did not recognize his mother the Sphinx tells him, “When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered, Man. You didn’t say anything about woman.” Women have had to work very hard in the past to fight for rights and to be equal with men. They have not always had the rights they have today. When this poem was written women were at the peak of fighting for rights to vote. The men were always in charge. In today’s society women have the right to vote and have all of the same rights as men. Women are now accepted in places they would have never been allowed in during the past. For example, in today’s society women are allowed to be in the military, to be judges, lawyers, and work in business places. The concern of women not having an importance and needing more rights is not as relevant in today’s society. Today women are treated as equals with men.

    • traveler12 says:

      I am sorry I ment to say fighting for rights and be equal to men, not fighting for the rught to vote. Women fighting for the right to vote was an issue earlier in history.

    • sourpickle12 says:

      Traveler12, I agree with your statement about women being treated as equal with men to an extent. Although it is true that in today’s society (specifically in the United States) women are allowed to join the military and even vote during election period, there are still a majority of women all over the world who are still being discriminated against. For example, many developing countries believe that a birth to a baby girl will only cause economic hardship. Neglect are often the case for these new-born baby girls. The discrimination among women in modern day society is the reason for why Muriel Rukeyser, had decided to address it in her poem “Myths.”

  16. 12thdoctor says:

    The famous politician Shirley Chisholm (first Black woman elected into Congress) once stated, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says; “It’s a girl.” As a woman myself I agree with this statement. When I was younger I wanted to be a boy. I wanted to play football, wear nothing but pants, but if you knew who I was now my appearance would say my plans that I made when I was seven backfired. I came to terms with my womanhood only coming to terms with that I live a male dominant society.

    America has come a long way when it pertains to women’s rights. Almost a hundred years ago we received the right to vote and started have now become dominant figure heads in politics and economics. However our society is still male dominant and I would like to argue that it shall remain so as long as we continue to speak the way we do. In Rukeyser’s poem Myth, she has Oedipus state, “When you say Man,” said Oedipus, “you include women too. Everyone knows that.” I believe the author was trying to bring about that language (in this case Greek because of the Oedipus reference) is male dominant. This argument is relevant today for two reasons 1) America is still a male dominant society and 2) The English language can be raised back to Greek and Latin which are masculine dominant languages. And because our language is masculine dominant our society will remain so.

    • kcreddy1 says:

      I agree traveler12 with your idea that mentioning man does not include women. I came to the conclusion as you did based on my further research and readings. I like the way how you brought quotes as evidence. You gave good evidence and you described the change that occurred during that time period to now.

      Muriel Rukeyser’s poem “Myth” was written in 1973 during a century when women received many rights which include the right to vote and the equal opportunities to jobs and work experience. However during that time period, women still did not receive the same salary, benefits, work experience, and opportunities as men. Women were still confined to household chores and were often prevented to go to college during that time period. Even the Bill of Rights still states “all men are created equal” and stands to this day, yet everybody presumes that man includes woman. Oedipus thought the same woman but it turned out to be not the same. The quote “all men are created equal” still stands as a symbol of dominance of man over women and to this day it still infers it although not as obvious as it was decades ago. Muriel Rukeyser’s concern is still relevant because women are still underpaid compared to men. They do not receive the same amount of work experience nor the same salary. According to Time Magazine, women still earn 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008. Here is another shocking survey according to the Census Bureau in 2007; women earn less than men in all 20 industries and 25 occupation groups that were surveyed. However, women are in a better position than they were in the past century because they receive the same job opportunities and experience as man.

  17. pseudonym10 says:

    Throughout history, women have always been considered to be “less” than men. In America, women were not given the right to work, vote, or own land. Kind of ironic considering our country was based on freedom, right? Males took the dominant role, leaving females to just be an addition to men. Just as Oedipus said in the poem “Myth” by Muriel Rukeyser, “When you say Man, you include women too. Everyone knows that.” I mean look at our titles: male, feMALE, man, woMAN. When two people get married, the woman takes the man’s last name and the couple is called “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith”. It’s as though a woman is considered to not have an identity without a man at her side. They say behind every successful man there is a great woman; but is there a great man behind every successful woman? Women’s capabilities have been greatly underestimated for years and our society is just now starting to accept the fact that men and women are equally capable in every aspect. This is a great step for America and our generation will help further that equality due to so many women’s goals and aspirations to make something of themselves instead of living in the shadows of their future husbands.

    • kcreddy1 says:

      I would also like to add that I agree with the argument presented but I would like to know the resources where you got that information. Even though you gave good evidence, you could have been a little bit more specific and elaborate more but other than that it was clear evidence. It is a good post.

    • coexist says:

      I feel as though Pseudonym10’s statement, “It’s as though a woman is considered to not have an identity without a man at her side,” is a bold but true explanation of Muriel Rukeyser’s comment on her society. In the poem “Myth,” the Sphinx tells Oedipus, “That’s what you think,” after he exclaims, “When you say Man, you include women too. Everyone knows that.” Through the Sphinx’s words, I think Rukeyser is making the point that many men take their power for granted. They often do not realize the sexism in their word choice. Oedipus claims that he meant to include both sexes in his comment, but the Sphinx believes he is honestly of a different mind set.
      In today’s society, I believe Rukeyser’s concern about women’s equality is not as prominent as it was in her time. Women’s rights, along with their status in our society, have become much more established. I do however believe that there are still many men today who think women are subordinate to men. Although women now have the right to vote, and they are able take on (mostly) the same tasks as men, many citizens do not believe women to truly be of the same status.

  18. kcreddy1 says:

    I would also like to add that I agree with the argument presented but I would like to know the resources where you got that information. Even though you gave good evidence, you could have been a little bit more specific and elaborate more but other than that it was clear evidence.

  19. woeisme says:

    Muriel Ruckeyser’s poem “Myth” relieves her opinion about the state of women’s rights in 1973. When Ruckeyser’s Oedipus responds with “When you say Man, you include women too” Ruckeyser is pointing out that tradition dictates that you can use the word man to mean both men and women. She is commenting on the seemingly nonexistent legal distinction of her time period. In 1973, the year after the Equal Rights Amendment was passed men and women legally had all the same rights. However, when the Sphinx points out “That’s what you think”, Ruckeyser reveals her opinion that equal rights exist only on the surface. If everyone included woman in their definition of man than there would not have been need to fight for equal rights from the start. Perhaps Oedipus included women in his original definition of “Man” but most likely he didn’t and even today not everyone includes women in the definitions across the board for all rights. I believe that this concern is still relevant in today’s society. There is still is some gender segregation in today’s world. There are still cases where women get paid less money on average for the same work, have fewer opportunities for advancement and are treated differently in the workplace. Even in this modern era not everyone includes women in their definition of “Man.”

  20. kcreddy1 says:

    Sorry I mean 12 the doctor. my bad.

  21. kcreddy1 says:

    No what. Disregard the earlier post. I commented on the right post.

  22. frogonalilypad says:

    Women have always been discriminated against in our society. Beginning with the founding of our country, the framers even declared “All men are created equal.” This soon proved to not include women because women did not have all of the same rights that men did, for example, the right to vote. Women toiled for over 70 years just to earn equality in this one, significant aspect of life, while men were just handed it. When Muriel Ruckeyser wrote “Myth” in 1973, women had already had the right to vote for nearly 50 years, but discrimination was still just as real.

    As Oedipus claims that “when you say Man, you include women too. Everyone knows that,” he represents the majority male opinion of the society from when Muriel lived. It was common, and still is, to think that if women were lumped into the group of Man, they would still have equal rights. Wrong. Even though women legally have the same rights, societal views of women are lower than men’s. Women are typically expected to stay at home, raise the children, tend to the house, cook the meals, but if they do have a job, they generally receive less pay than men in the same profession. Sure, it’s not the 50’s, but how far have we really gotten?

  23. greendinosaur123 says:

    In 1973, women had the right to vote—they possessed all the unalienable rights men had and were considered “equal” to men. The question then is, “Why were women still stuck at home with the kids and working menial jobs?” With the poem, “Oedipus,” Muriel Rukeyser comments on how, in her society, women were supposedly “equal” to men, but at that time, the actions of the people didn’t reflect that.

    In the poem, Oedipus makes the mistake of telling the Sphinx that “When you say man, you include women too. Everyone knows that.” Here the author alludes to how the society of her time technically placed men and women on the same level, but like the Sphinx says, “That’s what you think,” or in the context of society, what the public falsely believes. During the time this poem was written, women did have the same rights as men, but only on paper—most ladies couldn’t aspire to much more than being a wife and mother.

    Her concern is still prevalent in society today. If men and women are “equal,” then women should be able to try out for the NBA—there are ladies in the WNBA who top the skills of some of the players in the NBA. They should have the same opportunities as men if we are all “equal.”

  24. an0nymous says:

    “When you say Man,’ said Oedipus, ‘you include women
too. Everyone knows that.’ She said, ‘That’s what
you think.” This blanket statement by Oedipus makes him sound extremely insensitive to female rights, and in a way gives humanity a bad rap for the way we view women’s rights. But maybe that’s the idea Muriel Ruckeyser was going for when writing the poem Myth. If you look around the time this poem was written: 1973, right around the time women were getting equal rights with men. In fact, in a supreme court case Reed Vs. Reed in 1971– right around that time zone—Women were actually declared “persons” for the first time: discrimination at its finest. And as for Ruckeser’s intentions specifically in writing this— they are pretty clear: beyond poetry, she was heavily involved in political activism especially about feminism. Seeing all these atrocities to the respect of the female gender clearly brought her to show the pure thoughtlessness of society when observing these gender rights. It comes down to what Oedipus said: “When you say Man, you include women too. Everybody knows that.”

    Now as for the idea of this still being true in our society today I would have to disagree. Clearly not everybody is perfect and some people still treat the female gender as less than, however overall as a society; women have equal rights by law. Maybe Ruckeyser’s idea of our thoughtlessness and assumptions are correct through Oedipus’ statement, but overall I find it fair to say that this same problem is not evident in society today.

  25. mrhankey1 says:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” The Declaration of Independence, which declared such equality, referred only to men at the time of its creation. Throughout history, the world has been primarily male-dominated. Women were not stated as equals for they were not considered equals. It is only within the last century that women have gained equal rights as men in our society. The 1970s was an era of extreme social upheaval for women. While by then women had the same political rights as men, they found themselves as less than equals. Women were paid less than men for equal work, and found that securing a career in a male-dominated world quite difficult.

    In “Myth”, Ruckeyser is addressing the problem of sexual discrimination in her era. Oedipus states that “man” refers to both men and women as if it is common knowledge, but the female Sphinx states very plainly that not everyone agrees. This statement indicates that women are not considered the same as man in the eyes of many. This is still a valid concern in today’s society, however I feel that it is at a much smaller scale.

  26. yellowbanjo says:

    I believe the author of “Myth”, Muriel Ruckeyser, must have had some pretty strong, kept up feelings as she wrote this. The tone of the Sphinx mentioned in the poem is haughty and reframed, as if the Sphinx has had to endure situations like this before. Living during the time that she did, Muriel must had also felt similar to this. I know if I were to be ignored, and degraded, I too would become snappish.
    Through the poem, Muriel Ruckeyser is clearly supportive of the idea that women are not as equal to men as society likes to pretend. In the poem, Oedipus makes the mistake of assuming that when one addresses humans as “Man”, that everyone knows that women are also included under this title. Over the years people have just assumed that all things are equal between men and women. But they aren’t. Yes, society has grown and improved a lot over years. In almost any job position women have equal opportunity. Every year women are becoming more and more accepted into politics. Women participate in the Olympics, have been to space… It seems as if there is nothing that woman can’t do that men can. Yet there are still things that go under the radar. When you see a guy walking down the streets with his pants sagging and underwear showing, it’s almost acceptable, to some it’s even considered stylish. Unless the boy had his pants around his ankles, no one would give him a second glance. But if a girl were to walk down the street with her underwear peeking above her pant line… whoa there! She would be called names left and right! And that’s just how it is. So yes, I would argue that this poem is still very relevant to today.

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