The Poetry of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Questions and Answers
by Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana

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What does the poem "Foolish Men" mean?

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The poem "Foolish Men" analyzes how patriarchy works to consistently put women in positions of powerlessness and how there is a consistent double standard with regard to the way men treat women. If a woman is submissive and obedient, then she is seen as dumb and childlike and is treated with disdain and subjected to abuse. If a woman chooses to assert herself and be powerful, she is seen as being too belligerent to be loved and is treated with disdain and rejection for that. If a woman is modest, she is criticized for being a "prude." However, if a woman is sex-positive and self-assured in her sexuality, then she is seen as too promiscuous and not "lady-like" enough. The poem strongly emphasizes the ridiculousness of patriarchal society.

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