Dorothy L. Sayers – Are Women Human?

“What is unreasonable and irritating is to assume that all one’s tastes and preferences have to be conditioned by the class to which one belongs. That has been the very common error into which men have frequently fallen about women – and it is the error into which feminist women are, perhaps, a little inclined to fall into about themselves.”

Dorothy L. Sayers argues that every human ought to be accepted first as a person in his/her own right, with sex considered only when relevant. She had a very personal work-philosophy (saying that all she wanted in Paradise was time, space and tranquillity to work), and always stressed that it didn’t matter what kind of job you did, providing it was your job. Sex is mostly irrelevant to decide if a human being is fit for a job – and she always stressed the humanity of women, and their consequent kinship with, rather then differences from, men. The cold brain, she says, that great and sole true Androgyne, can mate indifferently with male and female and beget offspring upon itself. She also insisted that the job one does defines him/her and his/her relationship with society more than sex does.

She does not say sex is never relevant, or that there can never be any rational disagreement about when it is relevant. But she does deny the frequent assumption that when one is considering a woman it is always relevant.

“When Women write or talk (and they have always talked pretty freely) one gets the impression that Man as such is an open book to them … The great love-lyrics, the romantic agony, the religion of beauty, the cult of the ewig Weibliches, the entire mystique of sex, is, in historic fact, of masculine invention. The exaltation of viriginity, the worship of dark Eros, the apotheosis if motherhood, are all alike the work of man: the Fatal Woman is his discovery (and so, indeed, is the Fatal Man: Faust and Don Juan, Lovelace and Manfred are not of woman born). (Notes on Dante, Purgatory 33)


Dorothy L. Sayers – Are Women Human? on Goodreads

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2 comments

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