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Are Women Human? Penetrating, Sensible, and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society Paperback – August 6, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 75 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (August 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802829961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802829962
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


The New York Times Book Review "Forthright and commonsensical. Christianity Today Offers pointed and witty arguments for treating women as individuals, not as a homogeneous class."

About the Author

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957) was a lay theologian, Christian apologist, and friend of C.�S. Lewis. Her numerous writings include detective stories centered on Lord Peter Wimsey, studies of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, radio plays such as The Man Born to Be King, and translations of Dante.

More About the Author

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) was a playwright, scholar, and acclaimed author of mysteries, best known for her books starring the gentleman sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

Born in Oxford, England, Sayers, whose father was a reverend, grew up in the Bluntisham rectory and won a scholarship to Oxford University where she studied modern languages and worked at the publishing house Blackwell's, which published her first book of poetry in 1916.

Years later, working as an advertising copywriter, Sayers began work on Whose Body?, a mystery novel featuring dapper detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Over the next two decades, Sayers published ten more Wimsey novels and several short stories, crafting a character whose complexity was unusual for the mystery novels of the time.

In 1936, Sayers brought Lord Peter Wimsey to the stage in a production of Busman's Honeymoon, a story which she would publish as a novel the following year. The play was so successful that she gave up mystery writing to focus on the stage, producing a series of religious works culminating in The Man Born to Be King (1941) a radio drama about the life of Jesus.

She also wrote theological essays and criticism during and after World War II, and in 1949 published the first volume of a translation of Dante's Divine Comedy (which she considered to be her best work).

Dorothy Sayers died of a heart attack in 1957.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Reading this book was thought provoking and fun.
Landon Shultz
In Dorothy Sayers book "Are Women Human," which was a short story on how women were treated in England in the early 1900s.
I especially like the fact that the author absolutely refused to blame any failure on gender.
Bonnie C. Trujillo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
Your first association with the name Dorothy
Sayers will be, naturally, as the creator of the
urbane, noble sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey. If
you've read the Peter Wimsey novels in order, you may have noticed that Sayers invested more and more humanity and depth in him as the series progressed.

Since she revealed so much depth as a mystery novelist, I decided to try her out as an essayist. "Are Women Human?" is a slight pamphlet with an introduction and two essays which can be read in one sitting. As you finish the last page you will find yourself wondering why so little has changed in the last sixty years!

Sayers applied intelligence and humor (excuse me, humour) to her seemingly rhetorical question "Are Women Human?". Her answer, like most wise answers, is simple. Beyond the obvious "of course", Sayers posits that "male" and "female" are only adjectives modifying the noun human. Therefore, humanity is the common denominator, and each human should be judged on the person's individual merits -- creative, lethargic, witty or plodding. Whatever the case may be.

This is a book that should be required reading for every high school student -- young people who are in the process of sorting out all kinds of identity issues. It may not be too late for most adults to benefit from this little gem, either!<P
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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Daniel B. Clendenin on May 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
Are women human? That's the stark question the British writer Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) posed in two short essays written in 1938, and originally published in 1947 in a collection of her essays called Unpopular Opinions. She had more than an academic interest in the question. When she finished Somerville College, Oxford, with first class honors in modern languages in 1915, they didn't yet grant degrees to women.

The gist of Sayers' argument is captured in a quote she takes from DH Lawrence: "Man is willing to accept woman as an equal, as a man in skirts, as an angel, a devil, a baby-face, an instrument, a bosom, a womb, a pair of legs, a servant, an encyclopedia, an ideal or an obscenity; the one thing he won't accept her as is a human being, a real human being of the feminine sex." Such was her radically simple argument, that women be acknowledged as human beings, and only subsequently labeled as a subset of human beings qualified by biology, culture, ethnicity, age, economics, nationality, and so on.

Sayers also made an observation about the Gospels. Women, she noted, were "the first at the Cradle and the last at the Cross." The many women who appear in the gospels, says Sayers, "had never known a man like Jesus--there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as 'The women, God help us!' or 'The ladies, God bless them!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By BooksieDaisy on February 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Containing Two Essays excerpted from Unpopular Opinions, Dorothy L. Sayers

Introduction by Mary McDermott Shideler

"Are Women Human?"

"The Human-Not-Quite-Human"

Dorothy Sayers, perhaps most famous for her detective novels, possessed a delightful wit and piercing discernment. This booklet contains a mere 47 pages, but the content inspires many moments of introspection afterwards.

I have seen her points from these essays excerpted most often in a feminist context, and this is unfortunate. As her reflections are primarily on the essence of humanity, and a defense of woman as belonging to that unique group, men would benefit as well as women in digesting her insights.

Sayers speaks to the dangers of "classing" women, whether in the historical repressive context, or the aggressive feminist movements. She talks about the importance and necessity of work, as it pertains to both the male and female. She gives lucid background on the myth of "women's work," while chastising the modern church for propagating an unfounded role distinction, and much more.

Despite the original copyright on the work being 1947, Sayers' essays are extremely relevant today, and more needed than ever. It is my desire to see a reprint that makes this work more accessible, but in the meantime, it is well worth the market price.

--The Medieval Chick
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jane E. Patton on June 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Sayers is one of my heroes. She is able to integrate a Biblical world view with the dilemmas of life, and bring a sense of humor to it all.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Whalen on June 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
Although Dorothy Sayers broke with tradition by being one of the first woman to graduate from Oxford, she did not self identify as a feminist. She claimed, "...the time for "feminism," in the old fashioned sense of the word had gone past," adding, "an aggressive feminism might do more harm than good."(21) Instead of waving placards and shouting slogans, she simply expressed a worldview that held women as human beings, and lived a life that was true, not to her gender, but to humanity. Miss Sayer believed that God created both men and women with gifts and talents suitable to specific work and it is the role of the individual to find the work that matches their makeup.
Sayers outlines her views on `women as human' in a manner that makes her reader smile and even laugh out loud. By cleverly reversing the stereotypical view of males and females, Miss Sayers uses her wit to point out the silliness of such stereotypes by making us laugh at the picture of man forced to view himself in terms of his maleness:
"...if everything he wore, said or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself...not as a member of society, but merely as a virile member of society. If the center of his dress consciousness were the cod-piece, his education directed to making him a spirited lover and meek paterfamilias; his interests to be held natural only in so far as they were sexual. If from school and lecture room, Press and pulpit, he heard the persistent outpouring of a shrill and scolding voice, bidding him remember his biological function. If he were vexed by continual advice how to add a rough male touch to his typing, how to be learned without losing his masculine appeal, how to combine chemical research with seduction...
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