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Are Women Human?

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,290 ratings  ·  198 reviews
One of the first women to graduate from Oxford, Dorothy Sayers pursued her goals whether or not what she wanted to do was ordinarily understood to be "feminine." Sayers kept in mind that she was first of all a human being and aimed to be true not so much to her gender as to her humanity. The role of both men and women, in her view, was to find the work for which they were ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published 1981 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (first published November 30th 1970)
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Average rating 4.44  · 
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 ·  1,290 ratings  ·  198 reviews


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Cindy Rollins
I found these two essays to be provocative and exceptional which is not surprising as they wer written by Dorothy Sayers. Can't wait to discuss them with Angelina on The Literary Life Podcast. ...more
Amy
I picked up Are Women Human? by Dorothy L. Sayers expecting a rather lengthy and involved discussion on feminism that I would need to re-read several times to fully grasp. Instead I got a volume of barely 75 pages composed of two essays and an introduction so full of common sense that it hardly took any time to read at all. Though groundbreaking as one of the first females to graduates from Oxford and well-known for her work as a writer of fiction and academia, Sayers did not have much to say ab ...more
Mir
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender, ideas
Sayers' answer is, of course, Yes. Her point is that both men and women often argue as if women were an undifferentiated class, inherently different from men (the real humans) and necessarily possessed of a common female set of needs, desires, opinions, abilities, etc. She argues that the first prerequisite of equality is to regard all people as individuals who have different talents and preferences. These gifts, not sex, are what should determine employment and other activities.

To find satisfa
...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
This is a book that contains the two essays that Dorothy L. Sayers wrote on the "Women Question." It is not a well developed theory in the lines of feminist thinkers. (Sayers will be against the usage of the term 'Feminist' anyway.) It is more like a novel writer's observation of the society and her critical remarks.

This is the quote from the book which is central to her arguments:

"...the fundamental thing is that women are more like men than anything else in the world. They are human beings. V
...more
Suzannah
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So great. Spot on and frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious, although I think that the same author's novel Gaudy Night goes into these questions in a little more depth.

I read the two brief essays comprising this volume from Unpopular Opinions, which can be accessed online here.
...more
Trevor
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-theory
This wasn’t really what I was expecting it to be. I was expecting it to be much funnier than it turned out. It wasn’t really all that funny at all. And then I thought it might have a stronger message regarding feminism too – but even that was quite light, really. The second essay, and the one the book isn’t named after, is the better of the two. This is mostly because the second essay does some lovely inversions of gender roles – having men justify their membership of the male sex despite their ...more
Laura Verret
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mckays
This slim collection of essays is basically the We Should All Be Feminists of the 1930s, which is to say that, while tiny slivers of its discussion are dated, the majority of the text is pure, glittering gold.
Jeannette
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am starting to appreciate everything Dorothy L. Sayers has ever written. This is a clear, no nonsense articulation of the role of women and a quick dismissal of all the misunderstandings and popular grievances of feminism. While you read it, you are thinking, “Of course!”
Jonathan
This book comprises three essays -- an introduction by Mary McDermott Shideler, then Sayers' own "Are Women Human?" and "The Human-Not-Quite-Human."

The first of Sayers' essays is a 1938 address to a women's society. In it, Sayers explained why she was not pleased with some contemporary trends in feminism. It would be unfortunate, Sayers argued, if the women's movement made the same mistake that men had been making -- to treat women as a class with a single collective end rather than as individua
...more
Autumn
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
She has some incredible statements in here.

"A woman is just as much an ordinary human being as a man, with the same individual preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences of any individual."

"It is perfectly idiotic to take away women's traditional occupations and then complain because she looks for new ones."

"But there are other questions – as, for example, about literature or finance – on which the 'woman's p
...more
Bronwyn
The "I'm not a feminist but..." thing is quite old, apparently (not that I'm surprised). If this isn't a feminist work though I don't know what is. Such wonderful writings that are still a bit ahead of their time in many ways. The second essay was better and really resonated with me. The first was still very good, but a bit weaker. Really excellent work. Now to read her fiction. ...more
Mark Jr.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, library-book
Short and witty. Not quite up with the times, of course, but still valuable for all that. Pretty weak on the appeals to Scripture or natural law; I was disappointed there. And there seemed to me to be a pretty bald appeal to Western indivudalism. But there were some memorable lines and some important points. Her spoof on what it would be like to be a man who is always defined by his sex ("the first male to do X") was brilliant and thought-provoking. Read this by the fire at the Wade Center at Wh ...more
Justin Wiggins
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Other than reading a few quotes, some letters, a biography, and a chapter from one her Lord Peter Whimsey books, this is the only full length book by Dorothy Sayers that I have actually read.
I really enjoyed her critique of sexism, and her expounded on her high view of women, which is sane, brilliant, and something I greatly appreciate. Let us all be thankful for the amazing women in our lives.
Carmen
But the fundamental thing is that women are more like men than anything else in the world. They are human beings. Vir is male and Femina is female: but Homo is male and female.
This is the equality claimed and the fact that is persistently evaded and denied. No matter what arguments are used, because Man is always dealt with both Homo and Vir, but Woman only as Femina.


This book has much to recommend it. Very interesting.
Rowena
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
Quite witty and thought-provoking.
Annie Monson
An apologist’s argument for the dignity, equality, and responsibility inherent in personhood.

I think if we listen closely to Sayers here, more of us might agree than we think. And from there move towards a society that operates with both strong hands, rather than with one or the other tied behind our back.
Lori
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mary McDermott Shideler introduces us to two essays author Dorothy L. Sayers wrote about women and also provides a few remarks she made in an introduction to another book she wrote. Sayers did not consider herself a feminist although she did believe women should be able to choose a vocation suited to them. She believed aggressive feminism more harmful than helpful. This quick and interesting read shows Sayers' familiarity with philosophy and showcases her Christian faith. ...more
Noninuna
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Are Women Human? is a collection of 2 essays written by Dorothy L. Sayers about feminism in the belief that men & women are equal and should be treated as human on every level of humanity.

When I first seen this book recommended by a Booktuber, I found myself asking out loud, "What do you mean 'Are women human?'?!" because that is a really provocative title if you ask me. However, when I did read it, I can say that this is the 'feminism' that I would totally agree & relate with. The introduction

...more
E.C. Newman
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I nearly underlined everything in this little book. For being about 80 years old, the essays still speak to today.

I understand why some people don’t like the word ‘feminism’. It singles out the female and therefore people believe it only supports the female. By definition this is not true, but humans have a way of twisting words and ideas into the exact thing it’s not.

Sayers doesn’t call herself a feminist. In 1938, she is even concerned about the aggressive feminists and the possible damage t
...more
Cris
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In this slim book, Dorothy Sayers, christian apologist and self-described non-feminist argued at the turn of the 19th century that women had and have the right to pursue any occupation that they are able to perform. She couches this argument based on the common abilities and aspirations of the species regardless of qualifier (vir/femina). Sayers also develops this thesis in part based on a 'work ethic' from other books that says the work is the most important consideration and he who can and wan ...more
Kim
Jun 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great stuff! Dorothy L Sayers claimed not to be a feminist. However, if a feminist is a person who believes that women and men should have equal rights, then Sayers was definitely one. These writings exemplify Sayers: pithy, witty, seriously smart and still relevant 70 years down the track.
Sarah Morgan
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must-read. Written with a Christian world-view during the rise of the feminist movement, this book articulates very well how our society has incorrectly defined women. Women are human, and men are human. Individuals have different quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. But what would it look like if we started thinking of/treating individuals as individuals? Let the one who is most gifted at the work do that work, whether man or woman.

Should be taken in context of Scriptural guidelines and commands
...more
DestroyerbossAOele
This book is totally witty.
Victoria
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
the tea is scalding hot, ladies and gentlemen
Stephanie
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like how the subtitle includes “the role of women” and DS is very “shut up about the role of women!”

I don’t agree with her on everything (she’s more optimistic on where we are headed socially) but her arguments and ideas are blessedly free of generalizations and bad faith.
Kailie
Apr 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Astute and witty indeed!
Betsy
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Two short, thought provoking essays from Dorothy Sayers. She advocates for viewing women as human beings, with more in common than different from men, and individuals, not a "voting bloc." Clever, and full of wit. ...more
Anjanette Barr
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and sassy! This little book is packed with so many things to think about. I just love Dorothy Sayers!
Bill
Jun 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not saying I am 100% on board with her analysis but these essays are well worth reading.
Joseph R.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_2014, catholic
This book has two essays by Dorothy L. Sayers on the role of women in society. Her position is rather straightforward. Men and women are human beings first and foremost, their gender does not constitute a radical divide between them. Women have just as many and as diverse skills and interests as men; pigeonholing women as "the weaker sex" or as "domestic goddesses" does a great disservice to actual individuals who may be more physically fit or less domestically inclined than the common stereotyp ...more
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Co
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113 likes · 38 comments
“A man once asked me ... how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. "Well," said the man, "I shouldn't have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing." I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also.” 534 likes
“In reaction against the age-old slogan, "woman is the weaker vessel," or the still more offensive, "woman is a divine creature," we have, I think, allowed ourselves to drift into asserting that "a woman is as good as a man," without always pausing to think what exactly we mean by that. What, I feel, we ought to mean is something so obvious that it is apt to escape attention altogether, viz: (...) that a woman is just as much an ordinary human being as a man, with the same individual preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences of an individual. What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.” 181 likes
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