Monday, July 21, 2014

Awesome People you should know: Laura Cereta

So I am reading my text book for Western Civilization because I have a 5-7 page paper to write and I come across this document: "A Woman's Defense of Learning". It is written by Laura Cereta in the age of the Renaissance. She is writing a letter to one of her male critics who argued that "because her work was so good it could not have been written by a woman". Well...he was dead wrong!

I wanted to include this because it is so awesome!

"My ears are wearied by your carping. You brashly and publicly not merely wonder by indeed lament that I am said to possess a fine a mind as nature ever bestowed upon the most learned man. You seem to think that so learned a woman has scarcely before been seen in the world. You are wrong on both counts...

I would have been silent...but I cannot tolerate your having attacked my entire sex. For this reason my thirsty soul seeks revenge, my sleeping pen is aroused to literary struggle, raging anger stirs mental passions long chained by silence. With just cause I am moved to demonstrate how great a reputation for learning and virtue women have won by their inborn excellence, manifested in every age as knowledge...

Only the question of rarity of outstanding women remains to be addressed. The explanation is clear: women have been able by nature to be exceptional, but have chosen lesser goals. For some women are concerned with (I paraphrase here:) [looks, parties, and] "standing at mirrors, to smear their lovely faces. But those in whom a deeper integrity yearns for virtue, restrain from the start their youthful souls, reflect on higher things, harden the body with sobriety and trials, and curb their tongues, open their ears, compose their thoughts in wakeful hours, their minds in contemplation, to letters bounded to righteousness. For knowledge is not given as a gift, but is gained with diligence. The free mind, not shirking effort, always soars zealously toward the good, and the desires to know grows ever more wide and deep...

I have been praised too much; showing your contempt for women, you pretend that I alone am admirable because of the good fortune of my intellect...Do you suppose, O most contemptible man on earth, that I think myself sprung [like Athena] from the head of Jove? I am a school girl, possessed of the sleeping embers of an ordinary mind. Indeed I am too hurt, and my mind, offended, too swayed by passions, sighs, tormenting itself, conscious of the obligation to defend my sex. For absolutely everything-that which is within us and that which is without-is made weak by association with my sex."

I found this text to be very inspiring and that anyone can achieve success if they work hard at it. It never says that one gender is better than another but that both can better themselves by choosing to apply themselves to learning. I also found it inspiring in the fact that this is the first time that a women ever makes a stand for equality. I hope that you are as inspired as I am!

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