Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz
"Reply to Sor Filotea de la Cruz"
This week in class, we are discussing Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz's "Reply to Sor Filotea De La Cruz." Personally, it was a struggle to get through the text. I could not stand the way she wrote and the repetition burned my eyes. However, after discussing it in class and discovering the subtle undertones that she writes with it made me appreciate her intent and her purpose a lot more. Granted it was a hard read, it is a good piece.
In class, we discussed women's rights, fear of wisdom, and the role of women all pertaining to this time period and this piece of text. Throughout Reply, there is heavy groveling to the feet of the bishop and apology after apology followed by humble explanations of the desires and pains that De La Cruz goes through. I really want to think that this entire text is sarcastic, displaying De La Cruz's true feelings and talents by articulating with great education and knowledge, constantly apologizing in an almost antagonizing way, and playing an extremely submissive role. Today, I am so empowered and think that men and women should be equal as far as education and most other things go that it bothers me to think that she was completely sincere in her humble writings. She was smart, and capable of anything, therefore, it is difficult for me to look at this in any other way than sarcastic, because that is how I would write it.
As far as the themes that are addressed in the text, the one that catches me the most of the desire she has to learn and teach. I envy her devotion and her want to learn as much as she can. I think that today, since college is so available and there are so many resources at our fingertips, it is taken for granted. When women were denied knowledge, they wanted it more, now, I think only a handful of people, including men, really strive to read and learn every available moment.
Notes to Self:
It might be interesting to write a letter that would have been written today. If the same thing happened to a nun today, or even just a traditional woman, how would she write the letter? How would a feminist write the letter? Would they even bother to write the letter? What would happen if it were the other way around and a female published a man's letter, would there be a humility on the male's part or an arrogance?
As far as the role of women goes, there are so many double standards. It might be interesting to go through a lot of the double standards we have today and address them in the times of De La Cruz and even apply them to the role of the nun.
Another interesting question: if our resources were cut off, no internet, no secondary education, if it were as it was at the time of De La Cruz, would there be more of a desire and appreciation to learn or would people just go with the flow?
I think that a common problem is double standards. I get so upset when a server places the check in front of the guy at a restaurant, I get very upset when girls can't play sports or video games with guys, etc. However, I expect my boyfriend to open doors for me, and treat me like a lady should be treated. This is going to be a problem for every one. No matter how feminist the woman, I think she always wants certain things out of a romantic relationship. It is so difficult to appease everyone because everyone is going to expect certain things and others are going to be offended by others.
Being the type of person that always tries to look at things from an equal eye, I find that I sometimes have problems in my perspective with men. I think that a guy should know how to do his laundry, cook, and even sew, however, when I find a guy that does that I find myself shocked. I feel ashamed that I am amazed by his "talents," but to tell the truth I don't expect it. My boyfriend irons his jeans, this amazes me because I don't even take the time to iron my work shirt, I just throw it in the drier. Now this may not seem like that big of a deal to some but at this time in my life, a college student, who have only been exposed to those guys who still live at home, married, live in the dorm, or in a crappy apartment. I have yet to be exposed to the cultured, Martha Stewartesque man.
One thing that I failed to do with this piece is read thoroughly. I skimmed a lot because it was just so difficult to get through. Only certain parts did I actually pay close attention to.
I think it would be interesting to find other letters written by women throughout history. It is one thing to read books by women that have pen names or even just a woman author but to look at something that is written formally, preferable to an authority figure or a sexist male figure would be very interesting. I would like to see if, although probably more brief, if it would entail any sarcasm, humility, apologies, or anything similar to that of De La Cruz.
Would this letter have been different if De La Cruz was not a nun? What would happen if she didn't give several "disclaimers" as to her studying? If she didn't say that her primary focus is on God, what would have happened to her? If she was refused books or studying material, what would she have done? Was her desire to learn merely a rebellion of being put in a woman's place or was she really interested in learning?