August 29, 2006
Book Review: Are Women Human? by Dorothy Sayers
Yesterday I sat and read a book by Dorothy L. Sayers entitled Are Women Human? This being a question that has plagued me since birth (being the oldest of four boys with a not necessarily girly mother), so I decided that this might be a good read. It took me less than an hour to get through the three sections. The first is an introduction by a woman I never heard of, but who still provides a good set up for the essays of Sayers.
Precisely because I know little about women, I thought this might be a good read. I think I expected it to be a sort of feminist tract, albeit with a Christian bent (Sayers being a believer).
This is exactly what I did not find. Under the thin garb of arguing for women, what Sayers describes is actually what it means to simply be human. Women are simply the vehicle she is required to use (she died in 1957 so the role of women in society was a BIG argument in her lifetime), to best explain her point of view on the nature of humanity.
Sayers abhorred labels like “feminism” or using generalizations to explain how people will act or behave, or to describe their desires. “Women” do not all want to be housewives, nor do they all want to be mechanics. Women simply want to be human, which is to find your role in God’s world and do it. Not because you must, but because you love to. By this same reasoning, a man who chooses to live at home while his wife works outside the home is not to be belittled either, because he has found (with a term lately come into vogue) his “calling” or “vocation”. Therefore, as human beings we are made to do work, each to his own, not necessitated by gender, but by skill. You know, the whole idea of merit, and working in what one is skilled to do, so long as those skills fit into the boundaries of law and morality? However, it is not moral to say that all women should live at home and be housewives as not all are called to do so, just as men are not all called to work in business or as mechanics or engineers. How boring would that life be, after all if everyone did the same thing because of gender, race, or creed? Sayers says let each do person what he or she both desires to do and present skill for. Don’t use gender (or race etc.) to put people into boxes and predetermine their skill sets.
I think we have seen a movement back that direction of late with women going back to the home, not because of the majority of reasons given, but simply that that is their true vocation and calling, not what they used to do elsewhere.
For those who study vocation, I think it would be an excellent read. And for I as a man, I think it informed greatly on my perception of the role of women in the church (not that I call for female elders or anything, because I don’t) but on how much each individual has to contribute, and how I should not judge if one man finds his church role to be in the nursery rather than teaching a class.Posted by John on August 29, 2006 09:05 PM | Posted to Nonfiction