Early modern medical discourse regarding gender and reproduction defined women as naturally inferior to men. Those who accepted Aristotle's theorization of male and female differentiation regarded the female body as an imperfect or monstrous copy of its male counterpart. This essay examines two novellas from María de Zayas's Desengaños amorosos (1647), in which Zayas confronts such patriarchal ideologies. Zayas's work has commonly been understood to challenge patriarchal norms that reinforced male dominance. This essay, however, offers a new interpretation of Zayas's resistance to misogyny by exploring her fifth and ninth desengaños through the critical discourse of disability studies. It argues that the literal blindness of Zayas's female protagonists in these stories combines with the metaphorical blindness of the men who determine women's roles within society in order to dismantle the logic upon which the social constraints placed on women were based. In these novellas, Zayas redefines the category of "monstrous" women as she rejects the idea of natural female impairment.


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pp. 29-58
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