In what ways do men condemn women in “Redondillas”?

The speaker in the poem “Redondillas” says that men condemn women for being sexually active but refuse to accept the blame for inciting such activity. Men claim to expect chastity even as they try to seduce women. The speaker accuses men of hypocrisy in publicly censuring women for behavior that they privately encourage.

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In the poem “Redondillas” by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the speaker criticizes men who condemn women’s impurity or sexual activity. The speaker repeatedly accuses men of being hypocrites because their public discourse about female morals belies their private actions. The speaker’s indignation includes men paying for sex but blaming the women they hire.

“Redondillas” is usually titled “You Foolish Men” in English, based on the first line. The speaker directs their criticism at men who accuse women of being guilty but do not accept that they “cause … the very thing [they] blame.” The speaker offers numerous examples of male attitudes and discourse about women’s sexuality. It is the men who “incite” women to bad behavior and use “guile” to get women to give in to men’s “measureless desire.” Then, when women do “admit” the men, they call them “loose.”

At the same time, men complain that women are misleading them when they stubbornly resist male advances. The speaker calls men arrogant and childish for putting forward this double standard.

Referring to such hypocrisy, the speaker also uses a metaphor about a mirror, commenting on the oddness of a mind that


a mirror and then complains

that it’s not clear.

In various stanzas, the speaker mentions “guilt” and “blame” that men impose on women. For example, they ask who is more to blame in acts of passion,

She who, solicited, falls,

or he who, fallen, pleads?

Criticizing men who pay women for “sin,” presumably meaning sexual activity, the speaker asks who is more to blame for such wrongdoing,

She who sins for pay

or he who pays to sin?

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 1, 2021
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