6:00 AM

The alarm clock begins its song and dance promptly as the time strikes six, ringing out and shaking Marie out of her dreams. She rubs her eyes open, forcing herself up and swinging her legs around and over the side of the bed. The sunlight sneaks its way through the translucent curtains, lighting up Marie’s small apartment with its golden dew, preparing the start of a new day.

But first, coffee.

After twenty silent minutes of steady caffeine consumption, Marie shuffles from her chair in the kitchen back to her bedroom. She sheds her comfy clothes, replacing them with athletic leggings and a tank top: A productive morning begins with an active body.

Her sneakers smack against the pavement as she finishes off the last few strides of her daily three-mile run. Her pace slows as she nears the front of her apartment building, averting her gaze as she passes the local squatter who always insists for Marie to stop and chat. She used to oblige, spending her free few minutes after runs to talk with him; that is until the groping incident. Since that day Marie would give a smile and a quick wave, never allowing him the opportunity to strike up a conversation, often pretending she was on the phone or late for work.

7:00 AM

She shuffles up the stairwell, making her way back to the apartment a little after seven. Finally, making progress. She had been keeping up with her morning ritual for a while now, but she is just beginning to see a difference in her speed. She peels off her clothes and slips into the bathroom for a quick shower before getting ready for class.

Aeronautical Engineering certainly isn’t what everyone imagines when deciding which field is best for them, but for Marie there was no question. She grew up captivated by the idea of flight, as was her mother, who shared countless stories, reminiscent of the wild romance she had shared with her late husband, who himself was an extraordinary pilot. Her mother always dreamt of flying herself, as her first love had, but she was never given the same opportunities, her aspirations always remaining outside of her grasp. She often watched and supported him from the sidelines, as he lived out her fantasies. Marie never forgot the sound of sorrow in her mother’s voice when she spoke of this man; it was like he took fragments of her with him. For Marie, flight meant something entirely different. She is interested in flight as a manifestation of freedom and expression, as her mother was, but the mere creation of flight is what fascinates Marie even more. The fact that she could create something that could soar so freely above through her own hard work and effort, that she could make miracles out of blood, sweat, and metal. It had always been her dream and her mother supports her, pushing Marie to pursue the freedom of flight she herself was never able to fully attain.

After several minutes, Marie made her way out of her room, ready for the day ahead of her. She’s dressed casually, perfect for her shift at the bar later, but still neat enough for her day of classes. Not that anyone’s keeping tabs. She grabs her bag and phone off the counter before locking the door of the apartment and heading out to class.

8:00 AM

She walks down the street at a steady pace, only a couple blocks away from the university. She hears the vicious chants before she can even see the sign reading Planned Parenthood in big letters. Protesters line the sidewalks, waving signs proclaiming their love for Christ while they shout slurs of hatred at the women whom the yellow-coated volunteers escort into the abortion facility. Marie walks by, scanning the crowd of people until she makes eye contact with a young girl, no older than sixteen. The girl clings to a volunteer’s arm, breaking her gaze with Marie, and walks swiftly with her head down, attempting to block out the cacophony of accusatory screams and signs pictured with gruesome depictions of small dismantled corpses. Marie moves along past the building, worried that if she delays much longer, she will be late.

She enters the classroom within a few minutes and takes a seat a few rows from the front of the room. A few minutes later, when the rest of the students have filled in, class begins. Pushing through the strain of the three-hour lecture, Marie sharpens her attention, filing away her professor’s words for when she can put them to good use. As the professor reaches out to the class with questions, she is alert and responsive. With each passing day, she prepares herself for the career of her dreams, safeguarding the freedom of expression that her mother was never able to consistently capture.

The class eventually comes to an end and the students funnel out of the lecture center. Marie packs her items and walks to the front of the class, introducing herself to the professor before accompanying him to his office, to inquire about the lecture and a past assessment. He searches the computer for her grade among the other scores, eventually tensing his brows in confusion.

Marie offers: “If it isn’t coming up it may be under my full name: Anne Marie.” He locates her test and after their brief discussion, they exchange a smile and part ways.

11:00 AM

Grumbles ripple against the walls of her stomach as she makes her way down the street to the café. As soon as she opens the door, a wave of warm, cinnamon-scented air tingles Marie’s taste buds. She pays for a large cappuccino and a muffin, then waits patiently at a small round table for her order. As she waits, a middle-aged couple’s muffled chatter from a few tables over catches her attention; specifically, the way the husband orders and ridicules the wife and the look of longing that appears on her face after he dismisses her. It’s the subtle, everyday things like this that used to take a toll on Marie’s mother.

Marie thinks back, reflecting on the men of her mother’s past who had dismissed her in the same way she had just witnessed. Her mother recalled stories of her ex-husband, Laramie; it turns out that even this man, whom her mother loved so dearly, had too many ambitions to remember that she had her own. A couple years after Laramie’s death, Marie was conceived to an ecstatic mother and an abusive drunk of a father. She hadn’t seen him since she was a child, so the memories remained fuzzy, the stories she had been told filling in the gaps of her father’s image. Although they had some fond memories, Marie’s mother doesn’t bring up her father often. When she reflects on her past romances, the first name to leave her mouth is always Laramie. Her mother used to tell Marie stories of her father as a kind man, but she would always add that people can change when they get lost in the river of life, as Marie’s father had over the years and with the help of a hefty bottle of gin. It wasn’t long after the beatings started that he left, fleeing from his battered wife and his young daughter. It was only when Marie, around age thirteen, overheard her mother deep in conversation with her Aunt Helen and found out not only that her father had raped her mother but that when she had finally gained the courage to tell someone, she was branded a liar and told that a husband cannot rape a wife.

The rattling of the coffee cup on the saucer snaps Marie out of her thoughts, just as the shaky waiter places her muffin and steaming beverage beside her. When she looks up from her cup, she notices that the couple had left. Pulling herself together, she sips her cappuccino and picks apart her muffin, while she mentally prepares herself for the long afternoon that awaits.

12:00 PM

As she walks up the stone steps of the Advisement Building, she contemplates “her plans for the future,” knowing it’ll be the first question she is asked. She checks in, taking a seat in the waiting room until a voice calls: “Anne Marie.” She rises to greet her advisor with a friendly smile and a firm handshake, then follows her back to her office where they sit amongst the strong aroma of essential oils.

As she earlier predicted: “So, Anne Marie, tell me, do you know what you want to do after graduation?”

“Please, just Marie is fine. I want to pursue graduate school, so I can continue my study of planes.”

The advisor smiles, intrigued by Marie’s unique interest: “Is that so? I’ll take it that you’ve been enjoying your studies so far then. And let’s see here your major is…oh yes, here it is. Aeronautical Engineering. Any reason behind all of the interest?”

Marie smiles softly: “There are so many reasons why, but I would say that my mother was a huge influence on me. She was always so interested in flight herself, and she was never able to pilot a plane like she had always dreamed. For me, my dream isn’t to literally fly a plane but to be one of the people a part of the process, creating new planes and technology, participating in the making of history.”

By the time she finishes talking, Marie’s smile is stretched wide across her face, her eyes bright with anticipation.

The guidance counselor transitions the conversation to a discussion of Marie’s schedule for the upcoming semester. After several minutes of planning and polite discussion, their meeting ends. Marie gives a grateful goodbye to the advisor, leaving the building with her head in the clouds, daydreaming about the future that is yet to come and her place in it.

1:00 PM

Marie approaches the back of the brown building, arriving at her first shift. She climbs the stairs and opens the door as the smell of donuts immediately rushes to greet her, along with the bakers cooking away in the back of the coffee shop. She makes her way to the front of the shop where her coworkers are busy filling coffees and taking orders, the early afternoon rush rages on. Marie jumps right in with the others, filling and heating up orders while keeping her energy levels up and her smile on.

The crowd lingers for what seems like an eternity when at last the final customer orders, leaving no more than two minutes later with a grin plastered across his caffeine-crazed face. At last there is a moment to breathe, but only for a moment, as the manager reminds everyone that they need to restock the food and brew some more coffee before the next crowd arrives.

Following her manager’s instructions, Marie makes her way to the back corner of the shop, locating the freezer room. She enters the freezer, goosebumps crawl across her skin. She shakes them off in search of the frozen eggs needed for the breakfast bagels. After a few minutes, she digs out the giant box from under a stack of milk cartons, just as the freezer door creaks with the entrance of a figure. Taken off guard by the dim light of the freezer, she steps back, tripping over the scattered boxes that surround her. A male grunt resounds as she recognizes one of her coworkers hovering over her. His hand grasps her waist, attempting to pull her close when Marie resists, slamming her bony fist into the bottom of his jaw.

She staggers over to the door, trying to catch her breath as she hisses: “Who the hell do you think you are!? Come near me again, and I’m calling the fucking cops.”

She walks cautiously to the front of the store where her peers instantaneously ask about the commotion.

“Don’t worry about it,” she says, waving away their concern. “He broke something, but I handled it.”

She locates her fellow co-worker, a dramatic pout pasted on his face and a red patch spreading across his neck and jaw. She could not help but feel a bit of joy, noticing his hands trembling just as hers had been a few moments before.

7:00 PM

By the time her shift is finally over, the smell of donuts that was so sweet and welcoming to Marie at the beginning of her shift now smelled like the stale epitome of a shitty minimum wage job. Before she leaves, she gathers up her tips, exchanging the change for bills and then waving goodbye to the remaining workers at the store.

Exhausted and unmotivated to cook for herself, Marie leaves for a proper meal before her next shift. She walks into a nearby restaurant, collapses in one of the chairs that her waiter leads her to and spends the next hour fueling up for her upcoming shift.

8:00 PM

As Marie approaches the front of the bar, she digs through her bag searching for her stashed pair of pumps. She walks through the front door, grasping the black heel with one hand and waving cheerfully with the other to the group of regulars. She heads straight to the bathroom to freshen up and slip on her heels.

Her pumps click-clack along with the beat of her walk as she struts over to the bar, singing a happy hello to her coworkers. Groups begin to pile in as Marie begins taking and mixing orders, attempting her friendliest smile. She had not made a lot of tips at the coffee shop today; the freezer incident had hardened her usual “customer service face.” She presses on, forces a smile, prepares several drinks at a time, passes them along the bar, and offers friendly remarks as she goes. Occasionally, a drunken man or two will hit on Marie; as infuriating as the catcalls and ballsy jokes can be, the tips make the grotesque behavior more bearable. As long as the money is coming in, Marie has a route to attain her dream of creating planes and remaining independent.

She had listened to her mother talk about her dependence on the men in her life, and because of those stories she decided she would never rely on someone else to provide for her or to choose her life for her, a subordinate.

The night swirls by as a continuous swarm of social drinkers attach themselves to the bar. It hasn’t even begun to settle down by the time Marie packs up for the end of her shift, shuffling through a pile of bills, counting the new tip total. She makes her way out of the bar and down the street, at last making her way towards the apartment.

1:00 AM

The door of her apartment flings open as Marie hurls her limp body into the room, tossing her bag and shoes across the floor. She walks in a swayed line to the bed as she strips off each article of clothing. She collapses into her bed’s warm embrace, a sudden sigh of relief flushing over her. She has surpassed another day.

Another day in the life of a persevering woman.

Critical self-reflection: Living in history, a reflection on Rukeyser’s The Middle of the Air

Muriel Rukeyser’s unpublished play The Middle of the Air (1944-1945) provides a new perspective on feminist developments in the mid-twentieth century through its characterization of the protagonist Anne, specifically through her developing private relationship with her husband Laramie and her public relationships with sexual desire and her future aspirations. Rukeyser’s conception of feminism differs from today’s standards, shown through a change in women’s responses to instances of patriarchal domination and subordination. Because today women receive support from new laws and social support, they feel free to respond openly and firmly in instances of subordination or harassment, unlike in Rukeyser’s time when such experiences had to be dealt with strategically due to lack of societal support or understanding. This distinction is key for grasping how far women have come through the normalization of many feminist concepts, as well as for highlighting the injustices present during the time when Rukeyser wrote her text. In my short story “Another Day in the Life of a Persevering Woman,” Marie pulls the life of Rukeyser’s protagonist Anne into a new generation that is still subject to patriarchal domination at the expense of their own control and sexual autonomy. It is important to identify similar issues facing women fighting injustices in previous generations and today in order to stress how immersed our society still is in sexist ideals, such as the domination and suppression of women.

Connecting the issues of the past with the present is key to recognizing what change has been made and what other changes still need to be made. Historian Stephanie Coontz critiques Betty Friedan’s classic book The Feminist Mystique (1963) for describing women’s suffering through the narrow view of a middle-class, stay-at-home wife. Coontz points out that the book simply spreads awareness about the customary difficulties that middle-class housewives face, rather than provide solutions, suggest change, or acknowledge women of color or those of a lower-class status who experience a multitude of unacknowledged injustices. “She did not advocate that women organize to oppose the multitude of laws and practices that relegated women to second-class citizenship, restricted their access to many jobs, and gave husbands the final say over family decisions and finances” (Coontz 149). While Friedan identified issues such as women’s need for an education in order to further personal development, she did not focus on many of the basic injustices that women face on a regular basis; she also did not specify a way to provoke change besides the furthering of education; but this does not go far enough in order introduce equality into a patriarchal society. This is a key criticism by Coontz, highlighting the importance not only of understanding injustices to women but also of providing unifying solutions and acknowledging all sorts of injustices, rather than merely a middle-class white woman’s unfulfillment. In order to fully engage with Rukeyser’s work in a way that inspires change and forces self-reflection, I wrote a short story based on her play that aims to expand the reach of Rukeyser’s concepts of feminism through a sample of women’s 21st-century struggles and accomplishments. I provide a newly developed characterization through Marie, who I present as Anne’s daughter and Anne’s feminist legacy as viewed through today’s norms.

Throughout The Middle of the Air, Rukeyser hints at several instances of normalized sexism, such as in the workplace shown through Laramie’s conversation with the woman who designed plane blueprints. After asking if the woman who created the blueprints could read them, he mentions his mentor King’s rule against women working for him (53-4). This added detail about Laramie’s assumption that this woman couldn’t understand the prints, let alone work for his mentor, shows the lack of social and professional support for women at the time. This idea is further shown through the depiction of Anne as a subordinate to Laramie, such as when he steals her poem and tweaks it for his own use. She rebutts, “That’s not to be. Not to be touched. And not to be used. You can’t do that.” He dismisses her, “It’s done. But never mind. You’d never recognize it anyway, except the title” (Rukeyser 87). His pure dismissal of Anne’s beliefs and her right to her own poetry shows the social stance of the time. Women had very little of their own, as their lives were controlled by men and they were viewed as property or sexual objects. This scene also shows that although Anne tries to rebel against Laramie, she doesn’t have enough social or legal recourse to really make a difference. Although the addition of equal rights laws has created a sense of strength and support for women nowadays, there remains the threat of the removal of our freedoms. I represent this idea in my story during the scene referencing Planned Parenthood, due to the recent uproar about Roe v. Wade (1973) in the United States. With Donald Trump as the current president, political parties continue to polarize, making many fear the reexamination of pro-choice laws under this administration—many hostile states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, Louisiana, and so on, continue to push for the reenactment of old, abortion-banning laws. While men’s Viagra is still covered by insurance, many women’s birth control has been removed as a result of changes made by the Trump administration to the Affordable Care Act, as well as the defunding of Planned Parenthood from Title X. Even now, in 2020, society is trying to control women and their bodies. Although times have changed, Rukeyser’s concern for patriarchal injustices remains relevant. I wanted to include a resonating example in my story of the violence women have faced for centuries, so Marie’s unnamed father serves as the prime symbol of male toxicity. His character provides a commentary on the previous conceptions of a wife as a husband’s property, emotionally, physically, and sexually. Although there are sexist ideals that have persisted through history, new laws and social backings continue to drive change.

Throughout the second act of Rukeyser’s play, after her miscarriage, Anne begins to subtly offer her opinion to Laramie. She refutes his violent beliefs based in fascism: “But these are not planes, these are people” (Rukeyser 82). She also warns against his participation in King’s plan to overthrow the government: “It is corruption, and it works in corruption” (83). Although Anne goes so far as to tell Laramie he has to choose between her and King, he still chooses his mentor over her (84). As a result of the inequalities prevalent during this time period, it is understandable that even when a women tries to stand up to a man, she does so in a subordinated manner due to the lack of public laws and support to back up a bolder denial of the patriarchy. Even though Anne begins to raise her voice and her opinions, it seems that Laramie simply sees her as a means to support him while he attains his dreams. After this slight streak of rebellion, Anne tells Laramie that she chooses him, even though Laramie has chosen King, thus prioritizing his own self-interest. But at this time with no other support, what else could she do? The differences made via the passage of laws throughout the years to support women’s equality and rights have helped support women to gain their independence and to stand up against patriarchal oppression.

As previously mentioned, in the second act of the play Anne confronts Laramie after he confesses to stealing and tweaking her poem for his own purposes. His younger brother, Bud, becomes mentally ill around this time and accuses Laramie of trying to murder Anne. Bud rants: “Pop had that look when he spoke of the people but blood fell over Laramie’s eyes. I guess it was then I thought: he will murder Anne. I didn’t mean with a knife, with a gun, I meant with death” (Rukeyser 99). This passage seems to allude to the sense of imprisonment women feel at the hand of the patriarchy. Laramie may not have actually murdered Anne, but by suppressing her own desires in favor of his, she lives a life of unfulfillment and longing. Rukeyser’s decision to place Bud’s breakdown right after his older brother confesses to stealing Anne’s poem shows how Laramie is literally destroying pieces of her, by altering and utilizing her words. The quick contrast Bud makes between Laramie and his father, between the son who speaks of the people as tools to attain his dreams and the father who is a leftist activist supporting the needs of the people, creates a very dark image of his character, especially in relation to his suppression of Anne’s desires.

Another prevalent aspect of The Middle of the Air was the strength of Anne’s desire, not only for planes and her future but for her sexuality, as well. Anne admits to her therapist and friend Walter a kind of pansexuality: “I begin to understand love, all kinds of love, forbidden and unforbidden, in marriage, in beautiful lust, in the arabesques of all lovely invention, of all shame, burning for burning, across all barrier—I could love anything now: men, women, statues, trees” (Rukeyser 73). For a play of this time, this revolutionary addition represents the power of women’s desires and the strength of sexuality. Anne continues: “I must find my life: I have chosen to find my life through him” (74). Anne presses on, desiring the independence of her own life and interests, rather than continuing as she has, acting according to Laramie’s desires.

Throughout the play, Anne is also driven by a desire for planes and flight, which is particularly important in regard to her aspirations for her own career as well as a desire of freedom, such as one experiences in flight. In my short story, I use the idea of planes as one of Marie’s means of connecting with Anne, while establishing the idea of a plurality of perspectives through the comparison of what flight means to Marie versus what it had meant to her mother. Even though flight is an important concept for both Rukeyser’s character and mine, the meaning behind its significance differs for each. Unlike Anne who was interested in the act of flying itself, Marie is interested in the creation of flight and in being one of the people who make flight possible for others. Marie thus represents the idea that women are creating the future. A desire for freedom can also be found throughout my story through Marie’s, and other individuals’,  resistance to the objectification, sexualization, and subordination of women in reference to abortion, sexual harassment, and belief in rape victims. The relationship between public and private can also be viewed in these instances, when something occurring in private is perceived differently and therefore morphed by the public. One instance of this is with Marie’s mother, due to how she is perceived publicly as a wife—even though she was raped behind closed doors by Marie’s father, the public perception of her as her husband’s property overshadows this fact. Her own family dismisses her traumatic experience due societal misconceptions of women as sexual possessions to their spouses, where she is disregarded as a victim.

Lexi Rudnitsky, in her article “Planes, Politics, and Protofeminist Poetics,” discusses the idea of public and private experience, as well as the connection between technology and sexuality, throughout Rukeyser’s work. Rudnitsky describes Rukeyser as one of the first women writers to combine aspects of the public and the private, specifically in how the poet discusses technology in order to draw feminist concepts into politics. This unique position at the time acted to connect the private inequality of women to the public perception of technology as having new possibilities and being capable of changing ways of life. Rudnitsky quotes the philosopher Walter Benjamin to describe Rukeyser as “politicizing art” (240), specifically through her representation of the airplane as a means for a political and sexual awakening. She analyzes The Middle of the Air through the developing relationship between Anne and Laramie in connection with the surrounding climate of politics and technological advancements. Rudnitsky claims: “Rukeyser may have been the first woman poet to take on such themes [of technology]. And she was, more importantly, among the first to invoke the discourse of technology to stake out a protofeminist position” (238). By examining the public’s relationship to planes, especially in the context of war, Rukeyser is able to highlight the importance of flying in several unique ways. This is especially apparent in her depiction of Laramie, who, as Rudnitsky points out, has “taken the two most sacred things in Anne’s life—poetry and flight—and [has] used them toward an end that she finds repugnant” (251); he steals her poetry to push his own fascist, antidemocratic political views and plans. Anne appreciates planes in themselves for their quality of flight and freedom, just as Rukeyser herself always had. The use of technology in her play serves to bring the public conception of planes as a weapon, a technological advancement, or a political tool in conversation with Anne’s private conception of flight itself as being important for the liberation of individuals and of their desires. Rudnitsky writes, “After Laramie’s death, Anne emerges as the archetype of the new pilot-hero: one who uses flight to empower the masses, to stake out new ground for women, and to revolutionize poetry. Thus, her triumph not only reveals her as a woman concerned with the future; it suggests that a woman is the future” (253, original emphasis). Anne who was previously used like a plane by her husband, as a means to an end, now becomes a sort of pilot. This change suggests a revolutionary role for women in the future. It also coincides with a sexual awakening, which positions women not as sexual objects or as planes, but instead as pilots of their own desire.

In order to fight this type of sexist subordination suffered by Anne and countless other women, a change in the laws of a society pushes individuals to fight back in a more direct way. The recognition of both public and private experiences is necessary in order to identify what changes need to be made, as seen through Anne’s private relationship with the male figures in her life and the threat of political disagreement at the time. This need for the recognition of private and public experience is also represented in my story, through Marie’s public and private interactions as well as the consideration of modern laws that have changed the way women react to their subordination under men. Some of these laws include Title IX, Title VII, Breastfeeding State laws, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the Maouloud Baby V. State of Maryland 2008 retrial, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Provisions of Patient Protect and Affordable care Act [2012], the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act [2013], The Survivors’ Bill of Right Act [2016], SESTA & FOSTA preventative sex trafficking bills [2018], and the First Step Act [2018]. Although these laws have made progress to provide equal opportunities and justice, they still fall short of protecting all women, such as trans women who face violence and discrimination on a regular basis. Public discussion about and acknowledgment of others’ private experiences are necessary in order to promote progress in a society—by examining our current laws we see how far we have come, as well as how far we have to go to provide protection to all people under the law.  

Throughout many of her works, Rukeyser mentioned the concept of experience and history, specifically what happens when you mix the two. This concern is depicted in Adrienne Rich’s essay “Muriel Rukeyser: Her Vision,” which describes how individuals can change and are changed by their public environment in relation to their private experiences. Importantly, Rich’s essay points to the need for rare perspectives such as Rukeyser’s, which aim to provide a new point of view on culture based on the aforementioned relationship. Rich claims that a reader must experience Rukeyser in order to connect with her, similar to Rukeyser’s own concept of the face-to-face experience. Rukeyser’s unique perspective challenges readers to connect their own private experiences to the text, thus creating the possibility that change can arise. It is for exactly this reason that I chose to submit a short story in response to Muriel Rukeyser. As Rich describes, “From a young age [Rukeyser] seems to have understood herself as living in history—not as a static pattern but as a confluence of dynamic currents, always changing yet faithful to sources, a fluid process that is constantly shaping us and that we have the possibility of shaping” (121). This idea of living in history, with a stress on personal experience, has pushed my creative interaction through my story in order to keep the key concepts from Rukeyser’s works alive in the present. Through this piece, I believe I was able to interact with Rukeyser’s work in a way that brought her ideas of the subordination of women into our present context, with references to the societal changes that have occurred over the years, such as in the scene referencing Planned Parenthood. Rich also states, “In the past quarter century, as many silenced voices—especially women’s voices—began to bear witness, the prescience and breadth of [Rukeyser’s] vision came clearer to me—for it is a peculiarly relevant vision for our lives on this continent now” (126). Rukeyser’s work is supposed to pull a reaction from her readers and provoke women to break their silence.

Throughout The Middle of the Air, Rukeyser provides examples of a feminism-in-the-making through Anne’s subtle rejections of subordination. I aimed to bring her achievement into conversation with my own piece “Another Day in the Life of the Persevering Woman” in order to force readers in the present to interact with the past on the bases of gendered subordination, changes in law, private experiences, and public perceptions. By following Rukeyser’s advice to self-reflect on others’ work and respond to it personally in order to create change, I was able to identify how far women have come in today’s society, as well as how much violence women still face, even with all of the progress we’ve made.

Works Cited

Coontz, Stephanie. “Demystifying the Feminine Mystique.” A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s. Basic Books, 2011, pp. 139-65.

Rich, Adrienne. “Muriel Rukeyser: Her Vision.” Arts of the Possible. W.W. Norton, 2001, pp.120-7.

Rudnitsky, Lexi. “Planes, Politics, and Protofeminist Poetics: Muriel Rukeyser’s ‘Theory of Flight’ and The Middle of the Air.” Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, vol. 27, no. 2, 2008, pp. 237-57. Project MUSE, doi: muse.jhu.edu/article/266820.

Rukeyser, Muriel. The Middle of the Air (Performance script). 1945. Edited by Eric Keenaghan. Unpublished. Original typescript archived in the Muriel Rukeyser Papers, Part I Box 40. Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Lily Pratt is an English and Philosophy double major at the University at Albany, SUNY, who will be graduating with honors from the University at Albany in Fall 2020. She then hopes to pursue a career in writing, exploring political and social issues through a fictionalized narrative. Her short stories “A Child’s Perspective” and “One of Them” have appeared in ARC, UAlbany’s online literary magazine. Her work can also be found at