Thursday, March 22, 2012

Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. Sayers

Book Jacket

One of the first women to graduate from Oxford University, Dorothy Sayers pursued her goals whether or not what she wanted to do was ordinarily understood to be "feminine."  Sayers did not devote a great deal of time to talking or writing about feminism, but she did explicitly address the issue of women's role in society in the two classic essays collected here.

Central to Sayer's reflections is the conviction that both men and women are first of all human beings and must be regarded as essentially much more alike than different.  We are to be true not so much to our sex as to our humanity.  The proper role of both women and men, in her view, is to find work for which they are suited and to do it.

Though written several decades ago, these essays still offer in Sayer's piquant style a sensible and conciliatory approach to ongoing gender issues.


I have a new hero!  I ADORE Dorothy Sayers!  Her writing style reminds me of C. S. Lewis (which is the highest compliment I can bestoy upon an essayist).  She is factual, logical, and classy.  When making contentious points or calling out a group of people for being wrong, she is quite polite and never stoops to insults or meanness.  But that doesn't mean her comments don't have bite.  Her intelligence shines through every sentence, and her wit and humor make an interesting read entertaining as well.

Sayers argues that women are human beings just like men.  We ought not be looked down upon, nor should we be exalted.  We are intelligent, we are dumb, we are emotional, we are unfeeling.  Her desire is that everyone, women and men, should be able to do the work they are gifted at, whether it falls within traditional "feminine" or "masculine" gender roles.

All this from a Christian detective-novel-writer who died nearly sixty years ago.  I LOVE HER.  Expect to see many reviews of her books in the future.

I'll leave you with my favorite quote:

"Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were the first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.  They had never known a man like this Man--there never has been such another.  A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as 'The women, God help us!' or "The ladies, God bless them!'; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious.  There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything 'funny' about woman's nature."

Five out of five ladies being awesome human beings.

Release Date:  1971
Reading Level: Grade 6+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently part of Dunlap's collection.

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