A 17th century nun’s feminist manifesto

Frida Kahlo is a name many are familiar with. But a remarkable Mexican nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is less well-known.

Her name before becoming a nun was Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez, and she was born around 1651. Nicknamed “The Mexican Phoenix” and “The Tenth Muse”, she advocated for the feminist cause long before it had a name.

Sor Juana was a fearless defender of the cause of education for women, she persistently rejected the life that was assigned for her as a woman of the 17th Century, and she relentlessly pursued an education, in a time in which women were not entitled to one.

Sor Juana is now considered a national icon in Mexico. Her face is featured in the 200 pesos bill, and her convent is now an important centre of higher education.

Last year, Netflix produced “Juana Inés”, an original series based on her life.

One of her most famous verses reflects how she was a woman ahead of her time:

“O foolish men who accuse

women with so little cause,

not seeing you are the reason

for the very thing you blame:

for if with unequaled longing

you solicit their disdain,

why wish them to behave well

when you urge them on to evil?”

“You think highly of no woman,

no matter how modest: if she

rejects you she is ungrateful,

and if she accepts, unchaste.” Read more

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News category: Odd Spot.

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