Review: Are Women Human?

Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. SayersDorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human?

Dorothy Sayers is best known for her mystery series featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, but she wrote on a lot of other topics too. This short volume contains two of her essays in which she explicitly talks about the role of women in society and the feminist movement as she perceived it in the early 20th century. Sayers’ central point in these essays is that people should spend less time thinking about “women” as a class and more about each particular woman as an individual. She notes that opinions, beliefs, intellect, and abilities vary among women just as they do among men. She also champions a woman’s right to work outside the home if she wants to; both women and men should be able to do work that they enjoy and at which they excel.

I really enjoyed both of these thoughtful, witty essays. Even though they were written many decades ago and the world has changed a lot since then, I think Sayers’ observations remain relevant and interesting. I especially liked what she says about the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. She points out that in the Middle Ages, a lot of the most interesting and important jobs were done in the home — weaving, dyeing, food production, brewing, estate management, etc. These all used to be women’s jobs, and they didn’t become men’s jobs until after the Industrial Revolution, when they moved into factories. I don’t tend to read a lot of feminist theory, but I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the feminist movement — or anyone looking for a quick, humorous, and thought-provoking read!

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