Inspiration From An Early Feminist
24 Sep, 2012
A woman despite all odds forged new paths for womenOne of my primary sources of inspiration has been Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, who was a 17th century nun, poet and scholar, was a bright light among New Spain’s intelligentsia. She lived 47 eventful years (1648-1695).
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz was a playwright, poet, scientist, mathematician and political pundit – she actually corresponded with Sir Issac Newton. It was a rarity for a woman to engage a scholar on math or science at that time, but Juana had a thirst for leaning. Quite remarkably she self taught herself by reading from her grandfather’s library at the age of six or seven! In a relatively short period of time she mastered logic, algebra, Latin and the Aztec language Nahuatl.
Despite her very humble background (an illegitimate child with no dowry) she thrived. Juana was a beauty and coupled with her intellectual prowess attracted great admiration at the vice regal court in Mexico City.
As a Catholic nun, Sor Juana risked all by writing strong rebuttals to sermons by a highly regarded Portuguese Jesuit bishop. She defended her intellectual activity and the rights of women to have access to education.
My admiration for her has always remained a constant throughout my life due in part to her ability to insinuate her “voice” into insights and arguments once reserved for male scholars.
On occasion inspiration comes from a look into history in order to develop your own rigor of thought.