Dorothy Sayers on “The Woman’s Perspective”

I was reading a wonderful book earlier this week: The Gospel in Dorothy Sayers, recently released by Plough Books. I’m writing a review that will be published somewhere, hopefully, in the near-ish future. But right now I just wanted to share a quote that I  rediscovered on Monday night. I think Sayers is dead-right in taking aim at the sort of identity-politics that can drive a lot of our own discussions:

“Where, I think, a great deal of confusion has arisen is in a failure to distinguish between special knowledge and special ability. There are certain questions on which what is called ‘the woman’s point of view’ is valuable, because they involve special knowledge. Women should be consulted about such things as housing and domestic architecture because, under present circumstances, they have still to wrestle a good deal with houses and kitchen sinks and can bring special knowledge to the problem. Similarly, some of them (though not all) know more about children than the majority of men, and their opinion, as women, is of value. In the same way, the opinion of colliers is of value about coal-mining, and the opinion of doctors is valuable about disease. But there are other questions–as for example, about literature or finance–on which the ‘woman’s point of view’ has no value at all. In fact, it does not exist. No special knowledge is involved, and a woman’s opinion on literature or finance is only valuable as the judgement of an individual. I am occasionally desired by congenital imbeciles to say something about the writing of detective fiction ‘from the woman’s point of view.’ To such demands, one can only say, ‘Go away and don’t be silly. You might as well ask what is the female angle on an equilateral triangle.’ “

The Gospel in Dorothy Sayers, Plough Books, 2018. p. 162 (emphasis added)


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