Re-Examining Feminism

This weekend I found a copy of Are Women Human by Dorothy Sayers. I don’t think I’ve read any feminist literature – mostly because I’m really not interested in the feminist movement, especially as it is stereotypically portrayed. But Dorothy Sayers sure was smart. She had me laughing out loud at a few spots, and I really appreciated her essays in the book (Are Women Human and The Human-Not-Quite-Human). Here I would like to relay her main point.

Sayers says that radical feminism does more harm than good, and is not a movement that she wants to be associated with. She says that it is meaningless and even ridiculous to say, “A woman is as good as a man.” She says that saying this is as meaningless as saying, “A racehorse is as good as a elephant” – meaningless until you qualify it with “at what?”. A racehorse may win the Derby, but be a lousy log-hauler, and an elephant may be a great log-hauler but lousy at racing in the Derby. Each one has its purpose, and it is ridiculous to insist each should be able to do the other’s task just as well. She uses this picture to illustrate that men and women do have their differences, and therefore we cannot say, “All women can do all the things men can.”

It is true that some women can be great mechanics, but the fact is that women tend to be less gifted in such a trade. If a woman is a great mechanic, she should be permitted to do the job. But we cannot say because she can be a mechanic all women should be able to be mechanics. I, for one, would probably mess up your car instead of helping to fix it. You may make a good mechanic, but I may not.

Sayers says that it is not so much an issue of gender so much as an issue of being human. Women are human too, and have talents and abilities just like men do. These things are part of being human, and both men and women are human. Each should be allowed to use the gifts and abilities they have, regardless of gender.

The danger is when a woman revolts against her husband and God, runs out of the house and says, “I can do anything he can do better,” when either she can’t or else she is not called by God to do so. I believe many women are called by God to stay at home. I also believe that some women are called to work, and do an excellent job in their respective occupations. It therefore is not a matter of gender, nor of pride, but a matter of calling.

So to take a lesson from Dorothy Sayers, don’t try to be an elephant if you’re really a racehorse, and vice-versa. There is no shame in being a woman and being designed to do different things than some men. But do not let that hinder your calling from God.


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