Foolish Men

by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The narrator of this poem repeatedly expresses her disdain with the contradictory nature of male sexual expectations of women. She asks,

Who has embraced
the greater blame in passion?
She who, solicited, falls,
or he who, fallen, pleads?

In other words, through these rhetorical questions, Sor Juana implies that men should receive more blame than women when they tempt women to sleep with them. If a man has already "fallen" and then, through his repeated requests and even, perhaps, physical advances, tempts a woman to sin with him, then he is more to blame than she. Further, the narrator says,

Your lover's moans give wings
to women's liberty:
and having made them bad,
you want to find them good.

A woman's freedom seems to fly away when she has sex out of wedlock—presumably she would be considered spoiled goods, morally ruined—and yet men, having slept with women who are not their wives, still want to find themselves virginal and virtuous wives. How can a man expect to find such a wife when he himself has actually "ruined" other women for marriage? She asks,

Why be outraged at the guilt
that is of your own doing?
Have them as you make them
or make them what you will.

Such men are foolish, certainly, because they themselves render women undesirable by acting on their desire. The narrator says that men cannot turn women into sexual beings and then insist that they be virginal; if they want virgins, then they should not tempt women to sex.

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